London Riots: a Long HistoryBy Carolineld
It was apparently a tradition for London's apprentices to attack bawdy houses on Shrove Tuesday. (A reminder that tradition is not always a good thing.) In 1668, these attacks erupted into five days of unrest. Up to 40,000 rioters were involved and the disturbances stretched from Poplar to the West End. Fifteen of those involved in the Bawdy House Riots were convicted on charges of high treason, perhaps inspired by the increasingly political slogans of the rioters; four of them were hung, drawn and quartered.
Deptford saw violent unrest about dockyard chips in 1786 - these were offcuts of wood the dockyard workers were allowed to take home. It proved to be a rather expensive perk, since 'chips' could be up to six feet long. When the dockyard bosses tried to end the perk, workers were so angry that first one party of soldiers, then a second, and finally 'all the troops from the Savoy that could be spared' were needed to restore peace.
In 1809, the Old Price Riots lasted for several months - triggered by a rise in the price of theatre tickets. On the first night, calling in soldiers and police only inflamed the situation; protests then continued nightly but were apparently largely good-natured with little damage to property. (The frugal rioters took to arriving at the theatre only for the second half of the performance, when prices were reduced.) The protests only ended when theatre manager John Kemble reduced ticket prices to their old levels and apologised.
The March 1919 Battle of Bow Street saw large numbers of American, Canadian and Australian servicemen fighting the police following an attempted arrest over a game of dice. Canadian soldiers, unhappy at not having returned home many months after the First World War had ended, would riot again at Epsom on 17 June, killing a police officer.
Perhaps this long and varied history (there's a fuller list here, many much better-known) will also remind us that the causes of and solutions to riots can be too complex for instant answers. For the moment, let's just hope that London soon becomes calm and safe again.
These articles might interest you :
Since I originally wrote this post three years ago, the bridge pillars I consider here have been promised a new neighbour. Work is well underway on the new... Read moreThe 22 August 2011 by Carolineld
ARCHITECTURE, CULTURE, HISTORY
Sadly, I missed the display of vehicles from this year's London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. However, here's a look back at my visit to this fabulous event in... Read moreThe 07 November 2011 by Carolineld
Did you know that The Tower of London is almost 1,000 years old and was built by William the Conquerer as a result of the Norman Invasion of 1066 as a palace an... Read moreThe 27 October 2013 by Jennyallworthy
BOOKS, CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT
Two years after I wrote about the London Stone, it is still imprisoned in its Cannon Street cage. Surely it deserves better treatment than this!Imprisoned in a... Read moreThe 13 March 2011 by Carolineld
If you ever feel nostalgia for simpler times, when there were fewer distractions and less crime, then this century-old advice to tourists will sweep it away. Read moreThe 30 October 2011 by Carolineld
Machete Hettie (left) and Sarah Higgins after Big Comedy Conference in London last nightA week ago, I mentioned in a blog that I had got a message from “a... Read moreThe 01 December 2013 by Thejohnfleming
A small, unassuming Georgian building behind Regent Street, the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory is not among London's most well-known. Read moreThe 03 November 2013 by Carolineld
CULTURE, DESTINATIONS, HISTORY
MOST POPULAR FROM CULTURE
- Century-old Portland Gas & Coke building set to be demolished by Brianlibby
- A Meditation on Golf: What Would Dad Think about Liberty National? by Bbenzon
- Anglicans -- mostly literary, some musical by Praymont
- The Feather Fan of Tutankhamun by Egyking