The experience of Owenite socialism and anti-socialism in Halifax, 1829-1845

Cross, Simon (2007). The experience of Owenite socialism and anti-socialism in Halifax, 1829-1845. Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society, 15 pp. 91–111.


This paper presents a reconstruction of how Owenite Socialism emerged in Halifax. In 1829, the first Owenite co-operative society was formed at a private house in the town and over the following decade Owenism gained such prominence that, in 1840, debates about Owenite socialism attracted thousands. The emphasis of this study is on socialism in Halifax, rather than Halifax socialism, and so it seeks to situate and examine the broader local experiences and reaction to socialism. In doing so, it recognises recent research that suggests socialism engaged actively in the public sphere, not least in the working class contest for social science and development of radical culture, and that more detailed and exploratory local studies are still required. In response to such need, this study uses a specially developed Historical Geographical Information System, which contains around ten thousand entries about socialist activities nationwide, and detailed research from the local newspaper archive.

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