Region Is Fair to All People; HUMAN Rights Are Unlikely to Top Hadrian's Wall and Durham Cathedral in a List of Our Local Historic Treasures. but Regional Amnesty International Rep PETER SAGAR Believes Our Tradition of Fairness for Workers Should Be Recognised with Pride, and Particularly the Part Played by the Man Who Founded the Chronicle

Article excerpt


FAMILIES on Tyneside have shown themselves to believe in fairness, compassion, justice and tolerance.

The North East English heritage on human rights is something which should be cherished by us all.

As far back as the mid-18th Century, leaders became so worried by local fairer-society pamphleteer Thomas Spence he was denounced in Parliament in 1817.

Two years later an estimated crowd of 76,000 packed the Town Moor to protest against the Peterloo Massacre near Manchester.

Workers' rights remained very much an issue for campaigners across the region into the 19th century, leading to the growth of the trade union movement, particularly in the coal industry. This can be traced back at least as far as a meeting of Tyne Water Men and Wear Water men in the woods around Chester-le-Street in 1765.

There were many disasters of course, but slowly-but-surely safety and working conditions did improve.

For a period in the 19th century, industrial wages in the region were among the best in the world.

The region was one of the major centres of anti-slavery action.

Printing for early evidence presented to the House of Commons against slavery was paid for by the Newcastle Society for Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Then there was the towering figure of Newcastle MP Joseph Cowen, founder of your Evening Chronicle.

Mr Cowen fought for many causes such as the extension of the electorate to include working men.

He also encouraged the Cooperative Movement in the region, which had a higher membership per head of population than any other part of the country.

Mr Cowen and his associates also did much to help refugees from the continent, including Italian Garibaldi, and Poles and Hungarians, who were also fighting for their rights at the same time. …


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