Audio Recordings: Agricultural Trade Unions & Ascott Martyrs

Agricultural Trade Unions & Ascott Martyrs Part 1 – Pamela Horn (1987)
Agricultural Trade Unions & Ascott Martyrs Part 2 – Pamela Horn (1987)

This is the recording of a talk to the WLHS given by Pamela Horn on 13th October 1987 [ Society programme here ]. Pamela Horn is an experienced former teacher of economic and social history in higher education who has produced an impressive corpus of well-researched and well-written studies on aspects of British social history which are highly accessible to a wide readership.

In her talk Pamela Horn gives an account of the rise and fall of the National Agricultural Labourers Union from its foundation in 1872 to its demise in the late 1880s, focusing particularly on the Wychwoods story.

She recounts how significant the local villages of Milton, Ascott and Lyneham were in the early days of the Oxfordshire District of the Union. In particular she outlines the importance of Joseph Arch in stewarding the Union to its early success.

The talk covers the activities of the Union in supporting local demands for improved pay and hours. These activities included support for strike action where farmers and landowners were unresponsive. Other activities are also covered, such as support for hardship, organising important social events and support for migration and emigration.

Pamela also gives an account of the Ascott Martyrs story of 1873 when 17 women of Ascott were sent to Oxford gaol for “picketing” for up to 10 days with hard labour. The talk concludes with a summary of the successes of the Union and the reasons for its decline and eventual demise.

Janet Wiltshire, WLHS treasurer and a descendent of one of the Ascott Martyrs, comparing notes with another descendent sitting on the memorial seat in Ascott in 2016