Where Will You Meet Your Cinderloo?


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The Peterloo Massacre of 1819 was one of the landmark events on the path to gradual social reform in Britain. Fifteen people were killed, and some seven hundred injured, when troops were ordered to attack a large public demonstration in Manchester.

In the wake of the costly Napoleonic Wars, and in the midst of rapid industrialisation, poverty and inequality were rampant in Britain. The authorities were genuinely fearful of public unrest and radical movements were stamped on with brutal efficiency.

In what is now Telford, just eighteen months after Peterloo, a smaller but very significant protest march was held by miners and ironworkers, supported by their families and neighbours. In the event, two men were shot dead by the Shropshire Yeomanry with many more injured. Nine men were arrested and two were sentenced to death.

This took place on slag heaps known as Cinder Hill or the Cinder Hills. Hence the name ‘Cinderloo’, after Peterloo (which in turn was an ironic play on ‘Waterloo’).

This is the area where I was born and raised, but we knew nothing of it. Until recently it has been a sadly neglected episode. History is indeed written by the winners.

Now, however, a group of local historians, artists and community activists is working towards a major commemoration on the 200th anniversary of Cinderloo in 2021. There will be various events along the way, all with the aim of establishing Cinderloo as a cornerstone of local and national pride.

Below I have placed a couple of useful links for further awareness of the story (though there is a shameful lack of detail in what was recorded at the time).

My role so far has been to write a ballad: Farewell Tom (Sam Hayward’s Blues).

Tom Palin was the man eventually hanged. Sam Hayward was initially sentenced to death as well, but his sentence was commuted to prison with hard labour. The ballad is written as if in Sam’s voice.

I am indebted to the brilliant singer and performer Mary Keith (of Mary and the Mudlarks amongst other musical fineries) for putting a tune to the poem and recording it. At the start of this post is the link to the song, with the ballad itself below. Listen and follow the words (there have been a few slight changes since Mary’s recording but nothing major)!

Farewell Tom (Sam Hayward’s Blues)

 In hard labour I sweated on the day that they hanged him,

the morning dawned dark with skies grey and coal-grim:

so different it was on the day that we marched

and stood strong together while the yeomanry watched.

Mr Eyton was there, with his magistrates’ crew,

but we held our heads high, for our cause it was true.


Now they’ve dandled Tom Palin from the end of a rope,

to teach us our place and abandon all hope.


Times had never been harder, our tables were bare,

but the ironworks owners just didn’t care;

the colliery lords too had tried every way

to warm their fine houses by cutting our pay.

Enough was enough and the word went around:

“in Dawley we’ll gather, then we’ll stand our ground

on the Cinder Hills of Old Park. We’ll make a good show,

our voice must be heard before coal and iron flow!”


Now they’ve dandled Tom Palin from the end of a rope,

to teach us our place and abandon all hope.


From all over we walked, from each yard and pit,

five hundred set out, the flame it was lit

and scores more joined in as we strode along,

with wives, grandparents, children all in the throng.

When the slag heaps by Botfield’s were ours to command

there were three thousand souls with one clear demand:

“you cannot slash our wages, we are poor but we’re proud!”

So when Eyton read the Riot Act it left us unbowed.


Now they’ve dandled Tom Palin from the end of a rope,

to teach us our place and abandon all hope.


Determined we were to have bread or blood,

we gave not a fig for old Colonel Cludde.

So he ordered his yeomen to grab Hassall and me,

but Tom Palin and pals soon set us both free.

You’ve not seen piles of clinker shifted so quick

as the stones rained on yeomen so fast and so thick!

But instead of retreating, Cludde’s voice could be heard:

“Open fire!” and the first shots killed young Billy Bird.


Now they’ve dandled Tom Palin from the end of a rope,

to teach us our place and abandon all hope.


Tom Gittins, mortally wounded, the next was to die,

with many more gunshot ‘midst wild hue and cry:

we scattered and ran from their horses and guns,

those cruel gamekeepers and fat farmers’ sons.

They rounded up nine of us, we were soon in the dock

with all pronounced guilty – now there was a shock!

“Felonious riot” hung round Tom’s neck and mine,

with a swing on the gallows at the end of the line.


Now they’ve dandled Tom Palin from the end of a rope,

to teach us our place and abandon all hope.


Some worthies came forward and pleaded compassion,

so the powers-that-be said: “this is our ration –

Hayward can labour ‘longside the other seven,

whilst Palin is bound for Hell or for Heaven”.

Word came to us soon of how Tom met his death,

jolting for minutes whilst the crowd held their breath.

“Farewell Tom!” had echoed as he waited to drop,

the bravest among us, the cream of our crop.


Now they’ve dandled Tom Palin from the end of a rope,

to teach us our place and abandon all hope.


Like Peterloo’s field, eighteen short months before,

our Cinder Hill battle was just part of a war,

a justified struggle against all that is rotten,

and Tom Palin’s name will not be forgotten:

in hope we’ll stand together to banish all fears

whether it takes two hundred or two thousand years!


Links to the Cinderloo story:




A big thank you to Pete Jackson and to Andrew Howe for welcoming my input to the Cinderloo project.


Ted x

April 2nd 2018












  1. Great post Ted. Look forward to hearing more on this. I’ve just written a poem called ‘Tom Palin at Cinderloo’ which is set to music by Whalebone for a new project, Understories. Which we will be performing later this year. So we’ll join you on the barricades, comrade.


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