Stalybridge Police Cutlasses

Contributed by Stalybridge Civic Hall

The Cutlasses are on display at Stalybridge Civic Hall - copyright Tameside Museums and Galleries Service

The Cutlasses were used both in the Bread Riots and the Murphy Riots by the Stalybridge PolicThese cutlasses were used by Stalybridge Police Force in the 19th Century to restore peace during periods of unrest. Six of them were purchased in 1830 and the remainder in 1863, the same year as the infamous Bread Riots. The Lancashire cotton famine had caused widespread unemployment and the attempts by local authorities to provide relief were met with hostility. The unemployed were to attend educational classes each day to keep them away from beer houses and were issued vouchers for food rather than cash. The Bread Riots lasted for several days as crowds rampaged through Stalybridge and the surrounding towns. The cutlasses were used again during the Murphy Riots of 1866. Irishman Murphy travelled the country lecturing against the Roman Catholic Church. Fierce disturbances broke out wherever he lectured and his visit to Stalybridge ended in rioting. Amid the disturbances a Murphy supporter was shot, allegedly by a priest.

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