Plaque unveiled old at Luddite pub

Shears landlord Paul Black (centre left) and Max Rathmel (Spen Valley Civic Society) with members of the Frayed Knot Society.
Shears landlord Paul Black (centre left) and Max Rathmel (Spen Valley Civic Society) with members of the Frayed Knot Society.

A plaque has been unveiled at a Spen pub that used to be a important spot for Luddites.

The Shears Inn, in Halifax Road, Liversedge, was a meeting point for Luddites around 1811-1812 before the failed attack on Cartwright’s Mill in Rawfolds, which resulted in 17 men being tried and hanged.

The message on the plaque, installed by Spen Valley Civic society, reads: “This historic pub stands on an ancient route, a Roman road, then a packhorse way and 1740 the turnpike from Wakefield to Halifax.

“Owned by the Jackson family whose cropping shop was further up Halifax Road, the building became an alehouse in 1803. Landlord James Lister was also a sheriff’s officer.

“The Shears’ beer was popular with thirsty croppers. When newly-invented machines replaced their skilled manual jobs some croppers met in an upstairs room here.

“They took the oath of secrecy and plotted to destroy the machinery to save their livelihood.

“In April 1812 Luddites attacked Cartwright’s Mill at Rawfolds. The attack failed and 17 men were tried and hanged in York. Their families were left destitute.

“By 1820 the job of cropping by hand had gone but “to come a cropper” and “Luddite” live on.”

The plaque is part of a wider project on Luddites undertaken by the Spen Valley Civic Society, which will include two further information signs and the publication of a Spen Valley Luddite trail that will tie the spots together.