A MAJOR new exhibition about the last armed uprising in English history has opened at Erewash’s museum – two centuries after locals reeling from a cost-of-living crisis grabbed pitchforks and muskets to try to overthrow the government.
The borough found itself dragged into the 1817 rampage as around 300 rebels joined a march towards Nottingham from their Derbyshire villages.
Jobless weavers and miners – many whipped up into a frenzy but including some who were unwilling volunteers – had launched their rebellion in the area around Pentrich.
They press-ganged others to join them on the way but by the time they reached the edge of Erewash on a miserable rain-sodden night the force had begun to dwindle.
Their last stand was at the site of the current Ikea, where they were routed by soldiers of the 15th Regiment of Light Dragoons.
Three ringleaders were hanged for treason and then beheaded. Other rebels were transported to Australia. The government, which had been rocked by food riots in major cities, was later accused of paying a spy to goad the villagers into a revolt so it could wreak brutal revenge as a lesson to malcontents across the land.
Erewash Museum is displaying artworks created for the Pentrich and Wingfield Revolution Group, which has dedicated itself to raising awareness of the uprising.
The exhibition is in the Project Lab of the museum, which is located close to Ilkeston Market Place.
Erewash council deputy leader Councillor Becca Everett, who is Lead Member for Community Engagement, said:
“This fascinating exhibition marks a chapter in history that is little known but which had a long-lasting impact locally. The revolutionaries thought they would be joining at least 70,000 northerners in a march on London but it was all an elaborate lie.
“Those transported to Australia never saw their villages again. All trace of them was erased by landowner the Duke of Devonshire, who had the rebels’ families evicted and their homes demolished.”
Other current attractions at the museum include its Lally Gallery hosting an Ilkeston Photo 2000 display featuring pictures taken by residents. An “Our Queen Remembered” tribute on the first floor continues until the end of September.
On Saturday (16 September) an Enchanted Garden features magical themed craft activities and a special trail from 11am to 3pm. The museum’s beach will also be open if the weather is fine.
Erewash Museum is open Thursdays to Saturdays from 11am to 4pm. Entry is free.