Selma and Pentrich

I missed Selma on its release (and have only just seen it on BBC 2 tv).  The film brings some stunning moments from the past to life – of government spying & brutality, of racism, of fear, of defiance.
Some controversy over the portrayal of President Johnson’s politics and actions – a shame the film couldn’t be more positive about him.
Still the big story – people denied political rights, people putting themselves at some risk from government sides and brutality.
Similar to the Hampden clubs / Luddites of 200 years ago who started marches on London, including the one from the industrial villages in Derbyshire such as Pentrich, who marched 200 years ago this June.
There would have been the same discussions over the problems life presents, how they have no power to get things changed, and how the actions they might be taking will be dangerous.  Even discussions when they’d realised they were being spied upon.
There are limits to the parallels.  Unlike the Southern Christrian Leadership Confrence, the rebels from 200 years ago were not non-violent, although their weapons were basic and not significant enough to make them do anything but run when they saw government forces ahead.
There are books and plays on the movements of the day – but not films.  Just don’t give such a movie to Mel Gibson.

Alan Dance

Local novelist, Alan Dance talking about his historically based novels at Nottingham Central Library, Angel Row.
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Having explored stories of the Luddites and Chartists, based on Narrowmarsh and Banner town, his recent book explores the disaster at the Chilwell shell filling factory.

A Case of History Repeating

So “A History of Britain” is being re-run on BBC. And “World at War” on Yesterday, which is of course, a re-run channel.
And it is good to be reminded of how much Britain was in to being part of Europe, whoops, the Roman Empire, cos of the wealth generated through trade. The Romans were everywhere of course, but not particularly interested in what is now Nottingham city centre.
The series skimped the last century, which I guess was the spec anyway, but what a shame they gave that bit of our story to Andrew Marr (made worse by giving him all of mankind next).
The World at War is terrific too but probably suffers most from being made before the full extent of Britain’s ability to read Germany’s communications was fully understood. But told a lot – so much so that The Battle of Britain only got one-third of one of the 26 episodes.
Important though. And the N Post paid tribute to a local Polish Spitfire pilot who died this week.
The longest serving British PoW has also died and yesterday, the Mirror paid tribute to the last of the Jarrow marchers. Kevin Maguire wrote

The authentic history of Britain isn’t the reign of King This and Queen That.
It is the history of protest and struggle for the right to vote, a job, a decent income, home, to join a trade union, free speech and a fair trial.

20130106-124525 PM.jpgThe latest Robin Hood movie by Ridley Scott echoed some of this. Richard the Lionheart doesn’t get the write-up he gets elsewhere, although his actual death was much more futile than shown in the movie. The movie works in protests about rights and tries to tie in with the Magna Carta.
Actual Nottingham – aka Banner Town – has certainly seen a lot of that.
Hopefully it’s a story we can work up as part of the lottery bid of Robin Hood and the Rebels, Nottingham Castle and the Rebellions.
I hope they make a sequel to the latest Robin Hood movie.
But if they don’t, there’s scope I’m sure for a TV mini-series about the rebellions of Nottingham. Cheese riots, Luddite campaigns, abandoned revolutions, burning down the Duke of Newcastle’s palace, chartist strikes, a Chartist MP et al.

Radical history walk

Terrific tour of Nottingham city centre with Roger Tanner telling the tales of the radical history of Nottingham.
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Nottingham became important because of the castle controlling the river Trent.
But the innovation in textiles, and the nature of the businesses set-up led to a city with skilled workers that have more say than most. Combine that with a huge expansion in people working and living in the city, and a refusal to expand the city to meet the demand, led to a city ready to rebel more than most.
“Banner town.”
Food riots. Including the famous cheese riots where The Lord Mayor seeking to stop disturbances in the narrow Peck Lane, who then couldn’t avoid a large cheese rolled down the alleyway.
The Paine-ites and the Democrats, inspired by early stories from the French Revolution, leading to Nottingham being the only home city to be garrisoned. And welcoming the Communards to Kirkewhite Street in the Meadows after the counter-repression.
The Luddites, including the failed revolt, for which only the Pentrich village decided to carry on regardless of government counter-action.
The Chartists, seeking one man one vote. And initiatives like the first working-man’s library in Narrowmarsh. The week of disturbance in August 1842.
Protests at St.Mary’s church, packing with poor people in humble clothes to embarrass the rich.
Previously the scene of John Fox challenging the vicar’s sermons and forming the Quakers, initially as an armed revolutionary group.
The Owen-ites. And the first meeting of the First International in Wheelergate (need to check the definition of first meeting).

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And amid all this talk of rebellion, students at New College Nottingham were singing the twelve days of Christmas.