Call to move John Platt statue

COUNCILLORS are calling for the statue of a renowned local businessman and politician to be moved to Dobcross.

Currently, the memorial to John Platt, first unveiled in 1878, stands in Oldham’s Alexandra Park.

But Saddleworth Parish Councillors Luke Lancaster and Max Woodvine feel it should be brought to his Saddleworth birthplace and, once there, should remain there.

A petition to try and move it, with Dobcross Park a suggested location, was launched on Wednesday, September 9. Their campaign has the slogan: ‘Putting Platt in pride of place.’

In a statement, they said: “Saddleworth boasts an illustrious history and the life and legacy of John Platt is a noteworthy feature of that history.

Saddleworth Parish Councillors, Luke Lancaster and Max Woodvine

“Having previously been erected outside Oldham Town Hall, the John Platt statue now finds itself situated at Alexandra Park.

“However, Dobcross, the village in which he was born in 1817, would now provide the perfect ‘forever home’ for his statue.

“The Civil Parish of Saddleworth, unfortunately, has very few statues on public display.

“In putting this statue in pride of place in Dobcross, Saddleworthians will be able to look upon one of their own, and we believe it would be welcomed as a much-valued local monument.”

John Platt made his name as a manufacturer of textile machinery and a Liberal politician.

By the mid-1850s his company had established itself as the world’s largest textile machinery manufacturer, employing a total of about 5,000 people.

Around that time, he was named as the Oldham’s first Liberal mayor, an office he held again in 1861–62.

In 1865 he was elected MP for Oldham, a position he held until his death at the age of 55 in 1872.

John Platt Statue in Alexandra Park

And in 1866 he spoke in Parliament about how the number of people with a vote was in no way representative of the actual number of people in an area.

According to Hansard, the register of what is said in Parliament, he pointed out that of 5,000 adults there were only 69 who had votes, of those only 35 ‘could be properly described as being of the artisan class.

With 35 voters out of 5,000 adult males, who are among the most intelligent and best paid workmen in this country, it could hardly be said that the artisan class is over-represented in my own statistics.

Taking in the borough, the results would be found very much the same.

The population was 107,000 and the voters upon the register are 2,229.

Of the latter, only 150 belonged, properly speaking, to the working or artisan class.

• To sign the petition that calls for John Platt’s statue to be moved, visit www.oldhamconservatives.org.uk/petitions

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