Riot site to go under the hammer

The former Environment Agency workshop and two-storey cottage-style building on the south side of the River Avon at East Mills Depot, Southampton Road, Fordingbridge.

The former Environment Agency workshop and two-storey cottage-style building on the south side of the River Avon at East Mills Depot, Southampton Road, Fordingbridge.

First published in New Forest News by , Head of News

A HISTORIC building in Fordingbridge, the site of fierce rioting in 1830, is to be auctioned after the sale was delayed last year.

The East Mills depot, which sits on the side of the River Avon, off Southampton Road, is up for sale with a guide price between £90,000 and £100,000 for the freehold.

The two-storey, cottage-style building and large single-storey garage with parking, formerly part of an Environment Agency depot, is being sold by Clive Emson land auctioneers on February 6 at the Ageas Bowl, West End, Southampton.

Auctioneer Rob Marchant said: “This rare lot was on with us a year ago but had to be postponed.

“At the time there was a lot of interest from potential buyers and we anticipate the same again.

“The location is stunning, by the River Avon and nestling down a gravel lane, with sweeping views to the north across this glorious river valley.

“The buildings may offer potential for conversion or possible redevelopment, subject to all the necessary consents being obtainable.”

In the autumn of 1830, Fordingbridge was the focus of some of the worst disturbances of civil unrest across the southern half of England after labourers felt under threat from threshing machines being introduced to large farms.

The East Mills factory and the iron works at Stuckton, which made threshing machines, were destroyed by about 300 men on November 23, 1830.

A report in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal said: “A number of labourers gathered in the town this morning. Their leader appears to have been a man they called Captain Hunt.

“Witnesses estimated that at its height the mob numbered around 300. From Fordingbridge the men moved on to William Shepherd’s threshing machine factory at Stuckton.”

The men destroyed Mr Shepherd’s house and wrecked the building before going to East Mills factory, where they smashed the windows and destroyed the machinery. After the violence, the men scattered, with many extorting money from various householders.

As a result of the rioting 345 men were brought before Winchester Assizes. Most were handed prison sentences or bound over to keep the peace. Some 67 men were acquitted, but six were executed.

Henry Eldridge and Joseph Arney, from Fordingbridge, and Charles Read, from Breamore, were transported to Australia, although Mr Read was pardoned in 1836.

The riots were known as the Captain Swing Riots.

l Riots details from The History of Fordingbridge by Anthony Light and Gerald Ponting.

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