Manchester's fight for affordable food, free trade and its legacy.
The 1815 Corn Laws (otherwise known as the Bread Tax) limited international trade on cereals like wheat and maize. This was meant to protect British landowners against foreign competition, so that British producers could keep their prices high. In effect it pushed the price of bread so high that many people could no longer afford to buy it. Twenty three years after the Corn Laws came info effect, a group of Lancashire men formed the Anti-Corn Law League. Most of the men came from the emerging mercantile class, whose businesses relied upon international trade. The League started with a small group of men but the campaign grew quickly. Their campaigning machine included large numbers of events, petitions, and publications. After eight years of petitioning parliament, the Corn Laws were repealed in 1846,
Broadside celebrating the Repeal of the Corn Laws, 3 Aug 1846
Free Trade Hall Interior, 1865