Buckley's Strike Timeline

1934, December:   The Wade Estates paid their workers a Christmas bonus of 8d per ton of cane cut.  Other estates paid only 3d per ton cut.  Some estates refused to pay any bonus to their workers.

1935, January:       There were cane fires on several sugar estates near Basseterre.

1935, 20 Jan:         Estate workers from all over the island attended a Universal Benevolent Association meeting called by its Secretary,  Joseph Nathan.  He advised them that since there would be no increase in the price of cane for the 1935 crop, the planters would not be in a position to give a wage increase and that the wages in force in 1934 should be accepted.  This advice was disappointing to many and some workers left the meeting saying that the UBA had been bribed.

Meanwhile Thomas Manchester attempted to persuade the estate owners to institute an annual bonus and to make their agreement public before the start of the crop.  However the planters refused to commit to this idea.

1935, 28 Jan:         Cane cutters at Buckley’s estate asked the manager, E.D.B. Dobridge for wages of 1/- per ton.  Dobridge refused and the workers went on strike.

The strikers marched to Shadwell Estate and persuaded the workers there to join them.  By noon, the marchers numbered between three and four hundred and had arrived at Brighton.  Mules and cattle which were harnessed were taken out and the gear damaged to prevent any use being made of the carts.  In the early afternoon the march had reached Lodge.  The owner, Phillip Todd informed the approaching workers that they were trespassing and told them to leave.  Todd was struck down but he called for a shotgun.  The marchers attacked him, broke his gun, beat him and forced him and his servants into the house.

At Willettes, the overseer was seized and ordered to produce a bill so that the working gear of the carts could be disabled.

Major Duke and eight armed policemen overtook the march at Estridge, and arrested five of the leaders.  The crowd then numbered two to three hundred.  It was expected that following the arrests it would disperse but Major Duke was instructed to keep his men on the alert.

1935, 29 Jan:     Very few workers reported for work, except at Estridge and Bellevue Estates.  Another large demonstration took to the road and headed west.  At Saddlers the marchers stopped outside a shop and ordered a labourers, Jonathan Moore to join them.  When he refused, he was struck on the head with a metal pipe.

At West Farm Estate workers were ordered to down tools.  At 3.00 pm a large crowd invaded Buckley’s yard.  Dobridge attempted to warn them off with his shot gun.  He fired hitting some of the demonstrators with pellets.  The crowd became infuriated.  The police arrived on the scene and the strikers demanded that Dobridge and Pond, his overseer, be arrested for shooting at them.

At 5.00 p.m. Major Duke left the area to report to the Governor.  He requested the deployment of the Defence Force and the Defence Reserve. 

Meanwhile Magistrate Bell went into Basseterre and returned with Rev. Williams of the Moravian Church, Thomas Manchester and Victor John of the Workers League and Clement Malone, a member of the Executive Council.  The crowd listened to Manchester’s plea for order and many left with him but a significant number stayed behind.

The Defence Force and the Defence Reserve, the latter carrying live ammunition, were despatched to Buckley’s Estate

At 6.00 p.m. the Governor asked that a warship to be sent to St. Kitts from Bermuda and requested reinforcements from the police force in Antigua. The Riot Act was read.  Stones were thrown at the armed forces.

From 6.15 to 7.00 p.m. the armed forces attempted to direct the crowd away from Buckleys on to the main road.  The police were unable to control the crowd and after repeated warnings, shots were fired.  Three men were killed and eight wounded.

At. 9.30 p.m. all was quiet.

1935, 30 Jan:   At. 2.30 a.m. The Lady Nelson arrived in St. Kitts with the
additional men from Antigua.

That morning large groups of men were still calling out workers to strike.  Cane fields in the vicinity of Basseterre were burnt.

1935, 31 Jan:   The HMS Leander arrived in St. Kitts.
 
THE VICTIMS OF 1935 Labour Riots

DEAD
Joseph Samuel
John Allen
James Archibald

INJURED
Alfred Rogers
Cyril Tyson
William Fowle
Samuel Woodley
Ellsworth Selkridge
Charles Moving
Olive Allen
Virginia Greaux
Joseph Williams







 
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