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The 1842 General Strike, also known as the Plug Plot Riots, the strike started among the Staffordshire miners and soon spread through the country affecting factories, mills and coal mines from Dundee to South Wales and Cornwall.
The strike was influenced by the Chartist movement - a mass working class movement from 1838 - 1848. After the second Chartist Petition was presented to Parliament in April 1842, Stalybridge contributed 10,000 signatures. After the rejection of the petition the first general strike began in the coal mines of Staffordshire. The second phase of the strike originated in Stalybridge.
A movement of resistance to the imposition of wage cuts in the mills, also known as the Plug Riots, it spread to involve nearly half a million workers throughout Britain and represented the biggest single exercise of working class strength in nineteenth century Britain. On 13 August 1842 there was a strike at Bayley's cotton mill in Stalybridge, and roving cohorts of operatives carried the stoppage first to the whole area of Stalybridge and Ashton, then to Manchester, and subsequently to towns adjacent to Manchester, using as much force as was necessary to bring mills to a standstill. The movement remained, to outward appearances, largely non-political. Although the People's Charter was praised at public meetings, the resolutions that were passed at these were in almost all cases merely for a restoration of the wages of 1820, a ten-hour working day, or reduced rents.
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