Article dated : Fri, 2nd January 2004
John Fielden was a person of rare stamina and industry and was the leading partner in Fielden Brothers textile business. He played a major part in the building and development of Todmorden in Lancashire where the business was based.
But It is as an MP, radical Parliamentary reformer, social and factory reformer that he is mainly remembered. In 1833 he was elected as Radical MP for Oldham and with William Cobbett became leader of the reform movement in the House of commons.
In 1833, he seconded a resolution to remove Sir Robert Peel from the Privy Council
In 1834, he opposed the New Poor Law and in 1847 promoted the 10 Hours Act, which restricted the employment of children to ten hours per day. Fielden personally believed that a ten-hour day was still too long for children but he supported the proposal as a first step in getting Parliament to move on factory reform. He believed that low wages and long hours had a disastrous effect on the health of workers and as an employer he practised what he preached and paid good wages to his workers. This very radical move does not appear to have affected the business, which was one of the largest textile companies in Britain.
He also publicly supported the Chartist movement (the working class movement for the vote). Campaigned against the payment of compensation to slave owners, was in favour of a national public education system, and supported revision of the Corn Laws. He was known as "Honest" John Fielden
In 1845 he purchased the small country estate of Skeynes near Edenbridge and died there on 29 May 1849. He was buried in Todmorden.