London Gazette

 

Jack Ludd, Trade Unionist, Speaks Out

July 11, 1885 ·

Friends,

Events of the last few days have moved at such speed that I am having trouble keeping up with ’em. I am in transit at present so this note will appraise you of the situation but not much of the detail I’m afraid. That will have to wait till we meet in person or devise a more secure postal system.

Snatching me in the street is part of a larger plot against us. Whilst I lay in the gloom of a cell; the presses of The Spanner were seized, again under this accursed Special Provincial Powers Act. Not to worry too much on that account as replacement presses are already being prepared. And in secret!

More worrying is the seizure of our subscription records but again we were lucky as principally only the main distribution centres details were taken, and since they are largely factories and business addresses they shall not profit much from that knowledge.

But other union organisers have been seized, and a number charged with spurious charges. It is said that over one hundred people are being held under armed guard at Olympia in London. Many from all corners of the country.

A delegation of supportive lawyers and clergy are planning to visit them tomorrow and will demand to see the prisoners and learn their fates. A solidarity demonstration will be held this weekend at noon on Sunday. Talk to your branch about what act of solidarity you might attempt but save your strength for the strike.

I did learn that some union organisers were de-arrested, and like me are now on the run from the authorities, please help these comrades if you can. The more resources the authorities are forced to put into capturing us the less they will have for other events, and in related news a riot broke out in Peckham.

Police supported by hired thugs from local landowners attempted to evict an encampment of aesthetics who have been living for some months on Peckham Common. Inspired by William Morris and Gerrad Winstanley.

It seems that local landowners had attempted to evict the Artists and erect fences on the common. Hundreds of local women armed with saws and axes descended on the common, drove off the police and destroyed the fences.

I imagine that the officers that released me have been reprimanded by their superiors. They had hoped to arrest us all at once. I suppose they imagine that if they arrest the’ring-leaders’ then the problem will just disappear. How foolish. There will always be others to step into our shoes and carry on.

I quickly decided that I should not return to my lodgings. Troops billeted in Hornsey for the Queens celebration, who were due to return to their barracks in Colchester last week, have remained. There are reports of plain clothes officers loitering in the area, so my neighbourhood is under occupation and I am wanted by the state. I will do my best to avoid them. You all know what to do.

The strategy remains the same. They stand on pillars and look down on us thinking that they are in control, but we can remove the pillars that support them and bring them crashing down.

We will strike with the Union For The Casual Labourer, and we will organise for further struggle.

Jack Ludd
Editor, The Spanner

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