Bakers strike so they raise prices

Graeme Clark of Wet Wet Wet

Popped in, Souled Out and going strong 30 years on

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On this day in 1800 Portsmouth’s bakers went on strike over the price of bread.

At that time the price was controlled by magistrates and, bowing to the pressure, they revoked the Assize of Bread allowing the bakers to charge whatever they liked.

The price immediately shot up and meetings were held by local people unable to feed their families at which there were at least seven arrests.

Posters appeared calling on the rich to ‘repent before too late, the time is drawing nigh...you grind us so our children can’t get bread, consider this before you lose your head...the halter’s made, the time is near at hand that you must make your exit from this land.’

Three halters were suspended at the Lion Gate in Portsea with a notice proclaiming: ‘A caution. To the farmers, millers and bakers. Each of you take your choice. The greatest rogue may have the greatest hoist.’

By August the price of bread had gone up again and ‘formidable demonstrations’ took place in St George’s Square, Portsea.

By October, following a successful harvest, the price was reduced – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.