Cinderloo 1821-2021

A guest blog post from the Cinderloo 1821 group

The Cinderloo Uprising took place on the 1st and 2nd February 1821 when around 3,000 miners and their families protested against a proposed drastic pay cut on the cinder hills at Old Park, Dawley, now the Forge Retail Park near Telford town centre. The resulting conflict with the local Yeomanry led to two fatalities, many injuries and, following the trial of nine men, Thomas Palin was hanged outside Shrewsbury Prison for ‘felonious riot’ in April 1821.

To mark the 200th anniversary of this significant event in Telford’s history, the Cinderloo 1821 group are planning a major spectacle: Cinderloo Voices. With ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings the group is organising the world’s first socially distanced riot.

The group is appealing to people to get involved:

“We want people to make a short recording, 10 seconds max, stating something they would like to change. This can be done quite simply with your own phone or by calling to record over the phone.”

Full instructions for how to make sound and video recordings and then email them to the group can be found on the project website here.  

The sounds will be combined with images and video as part of an audio-visual light show of the events 200 years ago that will be broadcast in a central Telford location and streamed through local social media channels when Covid restrictions allow.

The Cinderloo Voices performance will launch a series of activities throughout 2021.  Read on below to find out more about the group’s past activities and future plans. All images are expandable at the bottom of this page.

Cinderloo 1821 is a diverse group of people with interests in art, local history and social justice who came together to try and understand the geography, culture and politics of the communities that form the heart of the new town today. 

Many people who live in the area are still not aware of Cinderloo and the group aims to change that to ensure that the men, women and children who stood up for the rights of working people are remembered. 

Social justice is one of the key project themes, and it is not difficult to find resonances with issues facing people today such as workers’ rights, role of essential workers, equality/Black Lives Matter, migration and food poverty. 

Another theme makes links with the landscape of 200 years ago by highlighting the coming together of “lost communities” and recognising Telford’s industrial heritage beyond the Ironbridge Gorge. 

Since the group formed in 2018, it has run art workshops, poetry, music and film performances, talks and heritage walks, including a fantastic misguided tour at Blists Hill Victorian Town. 

This work has been supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Wrekin Housing Trust, local parish councils and Age UK Shropshire Telford and Wrekin.  The group has worked closely with Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Telford and Wrekin Council, Wrekin Local Studies Forum, Shropshire and Telford Trades Council and other partner organisations. 

Historic England grants enabled the group to set up an education programme in partnership with Participate Contemporary Artspace CIC.  The team of artists has worked with nine Telford primary schools (over 400 children) and developed downloadable resources and an interactive art walking guide.

The project has attracted interest not just from the local area, but across the UK and around the world. It has inspired many artworks, poems, books, zines, songs, films, maps and research. 


Several guest writers have contributed “Postcards” to Cinderloo focusing on different aspects of the story, such as the impact of the French Revolution, information about other protests and riots from the time, Government surveillance, spies, propaganda and fake news.

Three members skilled in family history research have traced descendants of the eleven men, who died or were arrested, to far flung corners of the world including USA, Australia, Argentina and Dawley.  You can find a list of surnames associated with the 11 men here – is your name among them?

People have contacted Cinderloo1821 with information to help with research.  This included a fascinating report on the Gittins family back to the 17th century by John M Smith of North Carolina, who was delighted to find he was related to Thomas Gittins. 

The group is excited that Telford and Wrekin Council has agreed to name the railway bridge at Central Park – the Cinderloo Bridge. It is located close to where Tom Palin lived, on the Silkin Way joining North and South Telford. Watch out for further details very soon.

Towards the end of the year, people will be able to come and see all the art work and historical research at an exhibition in collaboration with The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust at the Footprint Gallery in Jackfield Tile Museum.

You can read more about the project at

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