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Posted by guest on 22nd February 2011 at 04:34 PM
Battle of Bexley Square: Part Two

by Tony Flynn
edited by Mike Heap

In this second and final video about the Battle of Bexley Square, we hear in further detail more about the incidents that caused the day to go down in Salford's history.

The marchers approached Bexley Square with their petition only to find it cordoned off by around 200 policemen who had no intention of letting anybody into the square. They turned their backs on them and awaited further orders.

Major Godfrey, the Chief Constable of Salford, then ordered for two dozen mounted policemen, who were out of sight from the protestors, to enter the square with batons drawn and push them back.

There followed a ferocious and brutal attack on the marchers who tried to fight back, the policemen in the square also drew their batons and joined in the assault, aided by several plain-clothed policemen.

One of the protestors described the square as being a battlefield with the marchers pushing, pulling tring to avoid the swinging batons of the police and the terrifying hooves of the horses in an effort to escape from the fighting.

From an upstairs window in the Town Hall, a Councillor Harding witnessed the fighting and pleaded with the Mayor to stop it as many innocent people were being injured. He was told by Mayor Jackson that the police were only carrying out their duties in the name of law and order.

Edmund (Eddie)Frow was arrested and sustained two stiches in his hand during the fighting but more shockingly had his nose broken by the police whilst in custody in the police cells.

A week later a trial was held at Saford Magistrates Court, four men, Eddie Frow, George Watson, Albert Lister and William Roberts all received prison sentences ranging from five to one months in Strangeways Prison with hard labour adding insult to injury.

Incredibly at the trial, Major Godfrey said on oath that at no time did the mounted policemen draw their batons or did the policemen in the square!

Eight other men were bound over to be of good behaviour for twelve months on their own recognisances of 5.

Walter Greenwood was on the march and describes the fighting in graphic detail in Love on the Dole, a classic story of working class life in Salford.

Edmund Frow who was a lifelong Socialist eventually became the curator of The Working Class Movement Library in Salford with his wife Ruth.

Jimmy Miller or Ewan MacColl as he later became, achieved fame as a songwriter famous mainly for writing the Salford anthem, Dirty Old Town and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

I have to say that I have read about MacColl and there is no denying that he was an excellent singer/songwriter and committed Socialist, however stories circulated about him.

It was known that the Special Branch and M15 were keeping tabs on him because of his political beliefs, however I found it strange that he joined the Army in July 1940 and then deserted in December the same year, why? Also why was he not prosecuted after the war?

He could have declared himself a conscientious objector and helped with non combatants in such work as ambulance work or fire fighting duties etc.

That is my only quibble about the man, the main issue is that the Battle of Bexley Square should not be allowed to be forgotten when brave men went to prison for their social convictions, so let us have a whip round for that long overlooked plaque in the square.

Related Links

To view Video One click here
Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by Salford lad  8th March 2011
Your right Tony T, this is amongst the best if not the best videos on SOL, keep on giving us this Salford history.

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by Tony T  8th March 2011
Brilliant work Tony and Mike. Very informative, well presented and well put together. Keep up the good work SOL.

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by Broomy  7th March 2011
Great stuff Tony. C'mon-----what is it about Ewan McColl?????

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by Tom Paine  28th February 2011
I think if you look in the history books and the newspapers of this period 1931 they all refer to it as The Battle of Bexley Square, would you have preferred it if innocent people had been killed as at Peterloo? As for dicrediting sevicemen, I think that you are being a bit to sensitive to say the least.

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by Sally Salford  28th February 2011
I think its a bit dramatic to call it a Battle?, no one killed, no one maimed? The word Battle,discredits the servicemen who serve in the military. Peterloo was much more brutal,put it in perspective for God sake.

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by DICK TURPIN WIYOUT THE MASK  26th February 2011

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by Paul Kenny ( member )  24th February 2011
Its so good that someone is recording this stuff Tony - its absolutely at the root of the culture of Salford - keep it up.

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by Graham WALKER  23rd February 2011
Great story. You have convinced me to get a copy of Love on the Dole and read it. I'm sure I touched on it at school (Hope Hall), but it would be good to read again as history may repeat itself sooner than the Government think.

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by Casey  23rd February 2011
Hear!! Hear !! Flynny glad to see your socialist colours flying at last, your mam and dad who no doubt planted the seeds of "question everthing" will be proud of you, keep the good work up and if the good old BBC decide to do a documentry on it, who else but Salfords own " true voice" to give it to em

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by Salford lad  22nd February 2011
Excellent stuff, that Flynn'y sails a bit close to the wind with his views on the police!, anyway I too will gladly chip in with a donation for a plaque for these men.

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by CaroleAnne ( member )  22nd February 2011
Don't you think it would be brilliant if the BBC, when they move to Salford, remake the film 'Love On The Dole', using genuine Salford actors and actresses to play the parts!

Report as offensive or innapropriate Comment by weasteman ( member )  22nd February 2011
Great local history Tony, as you say this should be remembered and a plaque put up in Bexley Square, I am up for a whip round.

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