Shropshire Star

Cinderloo 1821: Riotous battle behind the fish counter which left three dead

A team working to raise awareness of one of Shropshire's most dramatic events of the 19th century – a "felonious riot" which left several dead – has tracked down descendants of the key players from around the world.

Pete Jackson, who chairs the Cinderloo 1821 group, looks at work by school children which forms part of the Cinderloo exhibition.

A community group called Cinderloo 1821 has been organising activities to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a pitched battle between over 3,000 striking miners and two Troops of the Wellington Yeomanry Cavalry amid the slag heaps at Old Park in what is now Telford.

The strikers let fly with a fusillade of stones and clinker and the soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Cludde opened fire.

A painting by Dave Auger depicting the Battle of Cinderloo.

At least two rioters – 18-year-old William Bird, of Coalpit Bank, and Thomas Gittins, of Lawley Bank – were killed, and many wounded, in the standoff on February 2, 1821.

Thomas Palin was subsequently hanged at Shrewsbury jail for riotous assembly, the fall guy for what became known as The Battle of Cinderloo, in an echo of the Peterloo massacre, itself an ironic echo of the then recent Battle of Waterloo.

An exhibition about Cinderloo is running until December 5 at the Museum of Iron in Coalbrookdale, and plans are in hand to round off the commemorative events with a sound and light show in Southwater, Telford, in February.

The bicentenary activities have included researching the events and the principals, and involving local primary school children.

Pete Jackson, who chairs the Cinderloo 1821 group, looks at work by school children which forms part of the Cinderloo exhibition.

Pete Jackson, who chairs the Cinderloo 1821 group, said: "We have researched the family lines of 12 men who were arrested, two of whom were shot dead, and one was hanged. We have managed to trace 10 direct descendants dotted around the world, including somebody in Australia, somebody in Virginia, somebody in Argentina, and somebody in Chorley.

"It has been really exciting for people to realise that their families were involved. We have had three people doing the family research, and they have done an amazing job piecing together evidence and checking out names and lines."

He said the descendants had reacted positively, being pleased to discover their family was involved on the side of fighting for improved conditions.

Tom Palin, the executed man, was not married and had no children, but through his brother's line he has been shown to be related to Salopian Ian Palin.

One of the prize exhibits in the display is the uniform of Colonel Cludde.

The uniform of Lieutenant Colonel Cludde, who led the troops on that fateful day 200 years ago.

"We believe it hasn't been on show before. It was loaned by Peter Holt from Orleton Hall, his five times grandson, who still lives in the same home Colonel Cludde occupied at the time. We believe this is what he would have worn on that day in 1821."

On that fateful day the Riot Act was read by a magistrate, Thomas Eyton.

A portrait of Thomas Eyton who read the Riot Act.

"Andrew Davies from Market Drayton is his four times grandson."

Artwork at the exhibition tells the story of what happened, and there is a display of work by local primary schools.

A charcoal drawing by Pete Mannering.

A feature of the exhibition is to relate those events and times to modern-day Telford – a new town which of course did not exist at the time of Cinderloo – and reminding Telford folk of an aspect of local history they may not have been aware of.

"Over two centuries the furnaces, the pits, and the coal mines, have been wiped away by the new town development, so it's also about thinking about what Telford was like before Telford, and telling the story of a whole collection of communities that Telford effectively brought together," said Pete.

Andrew Naylor's drawing relates the events to their modern setting – note the shops in the background.

Tom Palin is thought to have lived at the old community of Hollinswood, and to have been buried at Shifnal thanks to a sympathetic vicar.

"William Bird, who was shot, we found was buried at Wombridge church in an unmarked grave."

As for the exact location of those events of 200 years ago, the landscape has naturally much altered.

Pete says: "My line is that it was behind the fish counter at Sainsbury's on the Forge retail park."

The exhibition, for which admission is free, runs until December 5 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 11am to 3.30pm, and at weekends from noon to 2pm.