Recent events

Recent events – since summer 2013:

The hectic schedule of events was beginning to give way to a more leisurely autumn. Shared space with Ex-Libris and the Secular Society at the Green Festival in September saw the first print of the book almost sold out, but there were a few left for the Local History Fair at Mansfield library a week later and the Ex-Libris book sale the weekend after that.

In October a second print order arrived from Russell Press days before giving a talk at the annual conference of the Society for Co-operative Studies at the co-operative hotel in Gilsland Spa, Cumbria, and the Co-operative News gave a lengthy report of it.

The school, New Lanark

The school, New Lanark

At the conclusion of the SCS conference Christopher and his partner Richard made their way to Lanarkshire for an overnight stay at the New Lanark Hotel, located in one of the old mill buildings in the World Heritage Site of New Lanark.

An illustration of the interrior of the school established there in 1813 by Robert Owen is included in the book on page 144. The next day copies of the book were put on to the shelves at the mill bookshop.

November was the month when Nottingham’s 5 Leaves Bookshopnew independent bookshop was  opened by Ross Bradshaw in Long Row, and within weeks the sales of the book were level with those at the Tourism Centre and Waterstones.

It was fitting that the book should be on sale here, given the importance of access to independent sources of knowledge recorded in the book’s chapters on socialism and chartism.

It was in November that the Nottingham Women’s History Group invited Christopher to speak at their meeting on ‘women infidels, socialists and chartists’, and it was one of those meetings that both the author and the audience seemed to derive enjoyment.

In January a visit  to Rochdale led to the extended and improved Pioneers Museum taking 10 copies of the book for their bookshop.

In February the Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Labour History Society hosted a talk by Christopher on ‘Infidels, Atheist, Secularists’, based upon his research for the book, at a well attended meeting at the Mechanics Institute.

Illustration by Paloma Pedrera

Illustration by Paloma Pedrera

In March James Walker, the Literature Editor of Left Lion, interviewed Christopher, and his excellent edit (and this superb illustration by Paloma Pedrera) can be seen in an extended version here.

The Nottingham chartists, who sought to launch a newspaper of their own, who read aloud from newspapers at their meetings, and were involved with the Operatives Libraries of Nottingham, would be proud to see their efforts replicated in Left Lion a century and a half later.

Site of the Democratic Chapel

Site of the Democratic Chapel

On the first Sunday in June, 67 people gathered in the Market Square for a historical walk – ‘In the Footsteps of the Chartists’. This combined elements of a previous Chartist Walk arranged by Roger Tanner and the 2013 Secular Walk, and was held under the auspices of the Notts and Derbyshire Labour History Society. This large crowd strolled through Hockley and the Lace Market, stopping enroute near the sites of Mary Smith’s ‘Star’ coffee rooms, James and Martha Sweet’s house, the House of Correction, the Rancliffe Arms and many more sites in the history of Nottingham’s radical past.  After 2 hours 65 walkers made it back to the Market Place, a casualty rate of only 2, which Roger and Christopher took to be a sign of overall good health and an appreciative group of people.

More books were sold at the History and Archeology Day at Lakeside and the Lowdham Book Fair in June, and at  the Cuba Organic Garden Party in July, at the Society for Co-operative Studies conference and the Ex-Libris book sale in September. In October the books were on sale at the Leicester Secular Hall during the talk by Dr Laura Schwarz on Infidel Feminism.

And that’s all for now folks. Apologies to those who have hosted book stalls and perhaps been missed from this account, and to those individuals and organisations (such as the Nottingham Trades Union Council) whose assistance has been valuable but has found no other acknowledgement in these pages. And I cannot end without a special mention of Philipp (you know who you are) and Loaf on a Stick Press without whom this book project and its associated events are unlikely to have taken place.

Christopher Richardson.

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