Group gets £66,000 to celebrate UK’s ‘last revolution’

The Butterley Gatehouse plaque which commemorates the Pentrich Revolution of 1817.
The Butterley Gatehouse plaque which commemorates the Pentrich Revolution of 1817.

A Pentrich and South Wingfield history group has been awarded a £66,000 grant for a project to commemorate the UK’s most recent revolution.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is backing the Pentrich and South Wingfield Revolution Group’s plans to mark the bicentenary of a little known chapter in British history.

The ambitious project, which will run from April 2017 to December 2018, is centred in the Amber Valley but will extend across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Organising committee chairman John Hardwick said: Commenting on the award, John Hardwick, Chair of the Organising Committee said; “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident the project will engage local communities and raise awareness of the Pentrich Revolution establishing a legacy for future generations.

“This is an endorsement of the efforts of our group, all of our partners and local councils who have planned Pentrich 2017 over the last two years.”

At a time of high unemployment and extreme poverty amongst the labouring classes, the Pentrich Revolution 1817 was one of the last popular risings against a repressive government fearful of an English version of the French Revolution.

On June 9 that year, more than 300 men set out for Nottingham from villages on the Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire border thinking they were part of a larger revolt.

Unbeknown to them, a government agent had encouraged the plan and, ambushed by troops, the marchers fled and many were arrested.

Although it failed, it was representative of a rising tide of radicalism in the 19th Century which eventually resulted in universal male emancipation, the rise of the trade union movement and fairer employment laws.

A series of 15 local walks and permanent information boards have been devised to follow the route taken by the revolutionaries, and on Sunday, June 4, there will be a walk in period dress following the revolutionaries’ route towards Nottingham.

Other activities include a guided walk through South Wingfield on Friday, June 9, commemorative event with dramatised retellings of the story on Saturday, June 10, and a series of exhibitions.

There will also be two international conferences at Derby University—on June 9 and over the weekend of July 21-23—and a living history project in schools this autumn.

Local craft groups are currently working to produce a banner and a quilt commemorating the revolution, which will go on permanent display.