Protectionist Corn Laws had existed in some form since the 12th C. and the repeal of 18th century laws curtailed restrictions on foreign grain coming into the country that had been protecting the profits of landowners and British farmers by artificially pushing up the price of bread. Brexiteers and free traderse are you watching. Pudsey Civic Society published a Guide to Pudsey West Yorkshire available in 1988 for the price of 35p. One of the more notable articles recounted the history of the ‘Pudsey Pudding- Pudsey’s Celebration of the Repeal of the Corn Laws 1846. Acknowledging “The History of Pudsey” by Simeon Rayner.
‘The year 1846 will always be memorable in British history as the time when the Corn Laws were repealed. All over the country, but most particularly in the manufacturing districts, there were demonstrations of rejoicing but none of these were more characteristic or racy of the soil than that which took place at Pudsey, where an original and typical mode of celebrating the important event was adopted. A number of Free Traders had formed themselves into what was called “The Little Committee” which met at the house of Mr. John Baker to devise means to celebrate the great event. The outcome of the deliberations of this committee was the determination to provide a monster plum pudding – such a pudding as the world had never seen before.
The pudding was compoised of twenty stones of flour, with suet, fruit, &c. in proportion. The ingredients were divided amongst twenty housewives, who each mixed her share into the requisite consistency, ready for the final blending. Leave was obtained from Crawshaw Mill Co. to boil the monster pudding in one of the dye-pans of the “leadhus”. The pan having been duly scoured, it was filled with water from the spring. The dames then brought their twenty “bowls” containing the mixed flour, fruit and suet, and these were tipped into a large and strong new canvas “poke”- specially made for the purpose- and by means of a windlass that had been fixed over the pan the “weighty matter” was hoisted into the vessel.
For three days and nights the pudding was kept boiling, along with half a dozen smaller ones to keep it company. On July 31st 1846, the puddings were craned out of the huge copper, and placed upon a wherry, lent by Mr. R. Wood. Here the steaming monster sat in triumph, the smaller puddings being around it, the whole forming a solid and substancial evidence of the material idea meant to be conveyed by the recent Act of the Legislature, and the benefits it was believed the people would reap thereby.
A procession was formed, headed by Mr. J.A. Hinings and Mr. Samuel Musgrave, on horseback, and four grey horses were yoked to the wherry containing the puddings, the driver of which, James Wilson, watchman at the Priestley Mill at the time, but who had previously been a sailor, exhibited no small degree of pride in the part he played in the memorable event of that day. Hundreds of persons joined the procession, and thousands of others lined the streets, the livliest interest being shown in the demonstration- even beyond the borders of the town, for visitors from far and wide having heard of the “stir” came to see the “Pudsey big pudding”.
Tickets were sold at a shilling each to those who desirous of dining off the extraordinary pudding, but each guest had to provide his own plate, & knife & fork or spoon. Hundreds of hungry onlookers sat on the walls surrounding the field and once at least these made an ugly rush to get to the tables, but they were kept at bay by the vigilance of Messrs. J.R. Hinings & Samuel Musgrave who, on horseback, kept up an incessant patrol of the ground. The pudding was literally dug out by Mr. Hinings snr, who was armed with a small spade for the purpose. That the dish was of an excellent nature is proved by the fact that some of the guests “sent up their plates” three or four times! After the last of the guests who had paid their shillings had been served, there was still some of the pudding left, and the aforesaid hungry onlookers & others then had their turn, the result being that the last of the “big pudding” was soon safely tucked away, and so ended a remarkable incident in the history of Pudsey.’
Other Pudsey Pudding References
‘Pudsey Town where it was made
In commemoration of free trade
Five hundred people I do declare
Dined off the monstrous Pudding Rare’
Pudsey Bear had a special dessert created, to raise money for the BBC’s Children In Need. Pudsey Pudding, named after the charity’s famous bear mascot, was a poor size when compared to the original.
The Urban dictionary defines ‘Pudsey Pudding’ as ‘someone who takes up much needed space in the living room that could be used for legitimate stoned people.’
My Pudsey Christmas Pudding came from Asda at Owlcoats near the Pudsey railway station – great it was but no silver sixpence.