The Rebecca Riots

Monthly Meeting 4th September 2014 – Mark Muller

Beca 100

Photo by Colin Thomas

Mark Muller gave a most interesting talk featuring the Rebecca Riots.   It is hard to imagine that only 175 years ago women worked in the fields, picking stones for payment of 4 pence per day, the men the princely sum of 6 pence.   He explained the cause of the riots was not for the imposition of toll gates, those were accepted, but the addition of more gates on lesser roads used by the farming communities for the transportation of goods and in particular lime an important form of fertilizer.   Early in the reign of Queen Victoria, the social strata consisted of the very rich and the very poor, the latter working hard to keep their families from the workhouse just surviving on meagre rations.   From the picture Mark drew one asked the question, “have things really changed”?   It is small wonder the poor took action, in the form of the destruction of the tollgates throughout South Wales.   Much like today the press had a hand in the reforms which took place.   We may not have the threat of the workhouse but it was easy to draw some parallels between life 175 years ago and today.

Penny Thomas