Thursday, 31 October 2013

Randwick 1832

Randwick 1832
An earlier posting on this blog entitled ‘Weavers and Workhouse Walk’ contained a section on the scheme used to alleviate poverty in Randwick in the early 1830s.
We thank the Stroud District (Cowle) Museum Service for giving us permission to make transcripts of the two documents that follow. Copyright resides with the Stroud District (Cowle) Museum Service. Thanks also to Alice Butler for making the transcriptions.
As the plan which has been pursued among you for the last six weeks is entirely new, and as few even among those who have been most benefitted, could
explain it to an enquirer, I have determined to give you a printed letter, which you can first read yourselves, and then lead to any one who may want to know what Christian work Mr. GREAVES is about.
You may remember we came amongst you early in December, when we found almost the whole neighbourhood in a state of physical want, and moral degradation, such as I shall not attempt to describe, neither shall I say how much of this was the necessary consequence of waste, extravagance, and profligacy. When times were good, I fear you never thanked God for then present mercies, but perhaps like the prodigal, you wasted your substance in riotous living, so when hard times came, you were not prepared to meet them. The depth of your misery then, we fear, is attributable to yourselves; but as your merciful God and Saviour will not that any of his children should want the absolute necessaries of life, so he stirred up his faithful Ministers to make an earnest appeal to him in behalf of those who thus suffered, and it is in answer to their prayers, that this plan was put into my mind, and that sufficient energy was given, to try the execution of it; to God then and to God alone, belongs all the glory for whatever good has been done, or evil prevented; so love and praise Him all ye people. When I first met you assembled on the Camp Green, you were almost famishing, without any decent apparel to go forth in search of work; you were idling not from choice it is true, but this idleness added greatly to your misery; you were completely wretched, and none seemed at hand to help you. You asked me to furnish you some occupation by which you might get food for your suffering wives, and crying children; but having neither land nor money of my own, I thought it were impossible to relieve so great a multitude; we had already laid our as much as we could spare, in materials intended for clothing, purporting to give them you by degrees; but your wants were so urgent that you offered to work for them immediately, - I consented to this, and promised that every man should be supplied in exchange for time (he could have done worse with than lose it) with potatoes almost sufficient to feed his family, and that the surplus value of his labour should be paid in excellent articles of clothing. Numbers came to me, and your neighbours, hearing there was corn in Egypt, came to earn a portion also, but none of you had any tools, so I was obliged to purchase considerable stock. I set you to a labour for the public good, and you did so cheerfully in the highways and byways as sons of the soil, seeing clearly enough that you would derive even more benefit from this than the rich; they have not to fetch water, and they can ride over a bad road, while poor men and women must walk, winter and summer, over rough stones, through mire and clay, or up and down such steep ways as are dangerous to the infirm, the aged, and the children. Six weeks hard labour, with only potatoes for your food, and not a drop of fermented liquor of any kind, has somewhat changed your neighbourhood and yourselves; and many among you now come into the house of God, wearing the appearance of decent, healthy, happy labourers. My plan has not quite satisfied the Parish Officers, as my object was not the reduction of the Poor Rates, but to relieve the poor themselves. I therefore firmly insisted that your small allowances should be continued to you, even while you were working under my direction, but if we live until next Winter, I trust and hope, the Parish will have its full share of benefit from all we are doing. Another objection has also been made, which is that the advantages of working on this plan, are sufficiently great to make you careless, and even reluctant to seek work elsewhere; this inured me to make the experiment of paying you all off, thus urging you to strive to provide for yourselves. Only a few went forth were able to get more than two or three days' employment, and the rest pressed me most earnestly to provide them occupation a little while longer, offering again to
work only for potatoes, if we cannot go on furnishing them with clothes: but I doubt not the Giver of our mercies will enable us to do this, and thus to fulfil that sacred duty which as a God of love he has imposed upon us.
And now my good friends I finish in the words of the holy men of old, - "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together, for he has regarded the poor when he cried, the fatherless, and him that had none to help him."
I am, in the bond of universal love, Your Christian brother,
Randwick, Gloucestershire March 18th, 1832

Personal Decency promoted, AND IMMORALITY CHECKED,

Exchanging Men's idle time for the Blessings of Food and Raiment. Randwick 1832.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________ For 2 days, Child's Shift Cloth.
The Man who cannot find Work may have Employment, as a public act, on the following comparatively beneficial Conditions - (Food.)
A Basket of potatoes for one day's work.
Six Quarts of Soup, for one ditto. One Quart to be delivered daily to his Wife.
For 8 days' work, a Sunday Hat.
3 ditto, Calico for a Sunday Shirt.
1 ditto, A large coloured Neck Handkerchief. 12 ditto, Pair of excellent Shoes.
4 ditto, Pair of knitted worsted Stockings.
12 ditto, Sunday Waistcoat.
2 ditto, 4 ditto, 2 ditto,
2 ditto, 1 ditto, 6,7,or
Shirt Cloth. Pinafore for Boy, made up,
Flannel Petticoat.
Leather Cap.
8 ditto, Pair of high Shoes
30 ditto,
13 ditto,
12 ditto,
6, 7, or 8 ditto,
Frock, according to length. 3 ditto,
6 ditto, 1 ditto, 4 ditto, 6 ditto,
A workman's Smock-
A common round Hat. Russia-Duck Trowsers. Flannel Belt.
under Waistcoat.
A working Waistcoat.
days, A good single Bedstead.
6 ditto, Three Straw Mattresses.
5 ditto, A Blanket.
12, 14, or 18 ditto, A Pair of ditto.
7 ditto, Rag Cover for the Bed.
6 ditto, One Pair of strong warm Sheets.
When the Man works for his Wife and Children, he may have
For 8 days, A Pair of Women's Shoes 2 ditto, Cloth for a Shift.
1 ditto, Apron
2 ditto, Stockings.
1 ditto, Neckhandkerchief.
3 ditto, Flannel Petticoat.
6 ditto, Upper ditto
6 ditto, Gingham Gown and Lining. 1 ditto, Cap.
8 ditto, Straw Bonnet.
14 ditto, Duffle Cloak.
Tools, for the Labour on Land.
6 days for a Pickaxe.
4 ditto, Spade.
5 ditto, Broad Shovel. 4 days for a Rake.
No. 1, - The Labourer may give the number of Pays with intervals, as it may best suit with his other engagements, - the dole object being the employment of his idle time in some publicly useful act.
No. 2, - The sample of each thing is to be shown to the Man before the engagement for work is made.
No. 3, - Nothing to be delivered till three Days after they are earned.
No. 4, - As it is wished that every Person in the Village should have his or her hair cut to promote external decency, a Hair-Cutter is employed to go from House to House for this purpose.
No. 5, - Not more than one Basket of Potatoes to be delivered to a single Man, and two to a married Man per Week, that they may have the more Clothing.
No. 6, - The Boys are to have a quartern of Potatoes per Day, for Stone-breaking. - Each Man after his work must claim a Randwick Token which is a round piece of Metal, impressed on one side with the words "Practiced Christianity," and "Randwick" on the reverse.
15 ditto, ditto, ditto, 1 ditto,
A Packet of Garden Seeds.
for a Child. Worsted Stockings.
2 ditto,
14 ditto, Sunday Jacket and Trowsers. 5 ditto, Gingham for Girl's Frock.
For 18
1 ditto, for the loan of Garden Tools for a week. 1 ditto, One Cwt. of Coals, delivered at Ebley.
Books of Religion
days, A Bible. ditto, Prayer Book. ditto, Testament. ditto, Hymn Book.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ypres: “City of Peace”

Season of mists and melancholy, really,
Wandering through Hansel-Gretel woodcut Bruges,
Driving through the Fields of Flanders,
Ghosts crawling cross the brown-ploughed landscape,
Through Sanctuary Wood, Railway Wood, Polygon Wood,
Around the Messines Crater and Hellfire Corner.

I was looking out of the window,
Skimming Ivor Gurney’s Severn poems,
Then reading Owen and Sassoon,
Underneath the Menin Gate,
(“Pro Patria, Pro Rege”,
Or Owen’s “old lie”?)
Before I saw the names of the Glosters
Among the other 100,000 or so names,
For whom “The fortune of war gave no known grave”,
 “Their names liveth for evermore”,
Like the Singhs from the Punjab,
Who gaze in reverence at their ancestral VCs;
They stand there, scanning the Portland Stone,
The stone of choice for the imperial 20’s,
When, unbeknown, the British Empire
Was already approaching vanishing point,
When widows, sisters and tearful parents,
Would follow the paths of Kipling and Conan Doyle
With table-top messages to the glorious dead
Of our island race, its dominions and colonies;
Spiritualists and mediums radiating across the ether,
Across the regiments of newly hewn gravestones,
Across the adamantine Portland Stone,
(Shakespearian trope in an uncertain age)
To where the bones of the young lay in fields
That were not the fields of England,
Where the rusting, rotting detritus of the war
Lay waiting to kill, blind or maim again,
Or fill the varnished cases of private museums,
Shells, gas masks, belts, insignia, helmets, caps,
Machine guns, rifles, pistols, bayonets, field glasses,
Barbed wire, mortars, boots and uniforms,
Old Curiosity Shoppes, with bandaged mannequins
Standing side by side with a grinning Oliver Hardy,
And red capped garden gnomes standing sentinel
By the fox holes’ brackish water and muddied trenches,
Seven Euro entry, payable to the rich hard-faced man
Who still does well out of the war.
As Paul Nash said,
“I have seen the most frightful nightmare of a country
More conceived by Poe and Dante than nature...
Sunset and sunrise are blasphemies.”
But in re-built Ypres, see St. George’s Church,
And the museum’s filmic exhibitions,
(English soundtracks and German subtitles),
The Last Post,
That every night
“Sends goose pimples down my back”,
Said the barman at the Menin Gate.
And this is how they are remembered
At the rising of the sun and the going down of the same,
But what will happen when the waters rise?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Going on Strike

I hated the way they looked at me,
Back in 1973,
The day after our ASLEF strike:
There was hatred in their eyes as I trudged
Along the platform to the signal;
It was a long walk, I can tell you,
Me in me uniform, billy can in me hand,
Them in their suits, Telegraphs in their hands,
Watching me walk along that long platform,
Billy can in my hand.

After what seemed to be an hour or so,
I reached the security of the cab,
Where I wanted to turn and shout out loud:
“OK, Let’s start at the end of the last century,
With the Dock Workers’ Strike of 1889,
It showed that zero-hours unskilled workers
Could protect themselves against wage cuts,
And that manual labour did have dignity,
Like on the canals and wharves around Stroud.

And what of Nineteen-Hundred-Eleven?
The Triple Industrial Alliance!
Nostalgic name from Edwardian days,
Railway workers, dockers and miners,
Joined in union solidarity,
Protecting families, wages, lodgings and homes,
Before the Great War claimed them for its own.

The Triple Industrial Alliance!
Defender of the working class after the war,
Against wage cuts and longer working hours,
At the forefront in the General Strike,
In coalmine, railway station and dockland,
Thinking of others apart from themselves.

And what of the Welsh Hunger Marchers
In the Great Depression of the thirties -
Receiving help and succor as they walked
Through west-country working class towns,
On their poor, solemn, path to London;
This is all beyond your understanding,
And your capitalist consciousness.”

But the whistle blew:
The flag was green, not red,
And all of this was thought,
Not said.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Great Money Trick from 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists'

To be performed by the illustrious Spaniel in the Works Theatre Company at the esteemed Prince Albert on the centenary of publication of 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists', April 26th 2014. There will also be, ladies and gentlemen, for your profit and pleasure, readings, more theatre, and a  book sale, as well as Sam Clark-Stone's disco- nickelodeon.
What more could you ask for?

“Money is the real cause of poverty,” said Owen.
“Prove it,” repeated Philpot.
“Money is the cause of poverty because it is the device by which those who are too lazy to work are enabled to rob the workers of the fruits of their labour.”
“Prove it,” said Philpot.
Owen slowly folded up the piece of newspaper he had been reading and put it in his pocket.
“All right,” he replied. “I’ll show you how the Great Money Trick is worked.”
Owen opened his dinner basket and took from it two slices of bread, but as these were not sufficient, he requested that anyone who had some bread left should give it to him. They gave him several pieces, which he placed in a heap on a clean piece of paper, and, having borrowed the pocket knives of Easton, Harlow and Philpot, he addressed them, as follows:
“These pieces of bread represent the raw materials which exist naturally in and on the earth for the use of mankind; they were not made by any human being, but were created for the benefit and sustenance of all, the same as were the air and the light of the sun.”
“Now,” continued Owen, “I am a capitalist; or rather I represent the landlord and capitalist class. That is to say, all these raw materials belong to me. It does not matter for our present argument how I obtained possession of them, the only thing that matters now is the admitted fact that all the raw materials which are necessary for the production of the necessaries of life are now the property of the landlord and capitalist class. I am that class; all these raw materials belong to me.”
“Now you three represent the working class. You have nothing, and, for my part, although I have these raw materials, they are of no use to me. What I need is the things that can be made out of these raw materials by work; but I am too lazy to work for me. But first I must explain that I possess something else beside the raw materials. These three knives represent all the machinery of production; the factories, tools, railways, and so forth, without which the necessaries of life cannot be produced in abundance. And these three coins” - taking three half pennies from his pocket - “represent my money, capital.” “But before we go any further,” said Owen, interrupting himself, “it is important to remember that I am not supposed to be merely a capitalist. I represent the whole capitalist class. You are not supposed to be just three workers, you represent the whole working class.”
Owen proceeded to cut up one of the slices of bread into a number of little square blocks.
“These represent the things which are produced by labour, aided by machinery, from the raw materials. We will suppose that three of these blocks represent a week’s work. We will suppose that a week’s work is worth one pound.”
Owen now addressed himself to the working class as represented by Philpot, Harlow and Easton.
“You say that you are all in need of employment, and as I am the kind-hearted capitalist class I am going to invest all my money in various industries, so as to give you plenty of work. I shall pay each of you one pound per week, and a week’s work is that you must each produce three of these square blocks. For doing this work you will each receive your wages; the money will be your own, to do as you like with, and the things you produce will of course be mine to do as I like with. You will each take one of these machines and as soon as you have done a week’s work, you shall have your money.”
The working classes accordingly set to work, and the capitalist class sat down and watched them. As soon as they had finished, they passed the nine little blocks to Owen, who placed them on a piece of paper by his side and paid the workers their wages.
“These blocks represent the necessaries of life. You can’t live without some of these things, but as they belong to me, you will have to buy them from me: my price for these blocks is, one pound each.”
As the working classes were in need of the necessaries of life and as they could not eat, drink or wear the useless money, they were compelled to agree to the capitalist’s terms. They each bought back, and at once consumed, one-third of the produce of their labour. The capitalist class also devoured two of the square blocks, and so the net result of the week’s work was that the kind capitalist had consumed two pounds worth of things produced by the labour of others, and reckoning the squares at their market value of one pound each, he had more than doubled his capital, for he still possessed the three pounds in money and in addition four pounds worth of goods. As for the working classes, Philpot, Harlow and Easton, having each consumed the pound’s worth of necessaries they had bought with their wages, they were again in precisely the same condition as when they had started work - they had nothing.
This process was repeated several times; for each week’s work the producers were paid their wages. They kept on working and spending all their earnings. The kind-hearted capitalist consumed twice as much as any one of them and his pool of wealth continually increased. In a little while, reckoning the little squares at their market value of one pound each, he was worth about one hundred pounds, and the working classes were still in the same condition as when they began, and were still tearing into their work as if their lives depended on it.
After a while the rest of the crowd began to laugh, and their merriment increased when the kind-hearted capitalist, just after having sold a pound’s worth of necessaries to each of his workers, suddenly took their tools, the machinery of production, the knives, away from them, and informed them that owing to over-production all his store-houses were glutted with the necessaries of life, he had decided to close down the works.
“Well, and wot the bloody ‘ell are we to do now?” demanded Philpot.
“That’s not my business,” replied the kind-hearted capitalist. “I’ve paid your wages, and provided you with plenty of work for a long time past. I have no more work for you to do at the present. Come round again in a few months time and I’ll see what I can do.”
“But what about the necessaries of life?” demanded Philpot. “we must have something to eat.”
“Of course you must,” replied the capitalist, affably; “and I shall be very pleased to sell you some.”
“But we ain’t got no bloody money!”  said Philpot
“Well, you can’t expect me to give you my goods for nothing! You didn’t work for nothing, you know. I paid you for your work and you should have saved something: you should have been thrifty like me. Look how I have got on by being thrifty!”
The unemployed looked blankly at each other, but the rest of the crowd only laughed…