Benjamin_Haydon_-Rev Hugh Hutton addresses Meeting_of_the_Birmingham_Political_Union 16 May 1832.jpg
Benjamin_Haydon_-Rev Hugh Hutton addresses Meeting_of_the_Birmingham_Political_Union 16 May 1832.jpg


This oil-sketch by Benjamin Robert Haydon depicts the 'Meeting of the Unions on NewhalI Hill' on 16 May 1832.

It is a record of an open-air meeting convened by the Birmingham Political Union in support of the Great Reform Bill of 1832.

The site, Newhall Hill in Birmingham hosted no less than eleven meetings between 1817 and 1837. The location was perfect for the purpose due to its proximity to the centre of Birmingham, within easy walking distance from the many workshops in the town. The site was a disused rock-sand quarry which formed a perfect amphitheatre, bisected by 'Miss Caroline’s Canal', a private branch of the Birmingham and Fazeley navigation commissioned in 1809 by Caroline Colmore to facilitate the transportation of the sandstone blocks to building sites around the midlands.

This particular meeting, held on 16 May 1832, served to celebrate the recall of Earl Grey as Prime Minister after a failed attempt by the Duke of Wellington to form a Tory government designed to introduce a diluted version of Parliamentary reform. Grey accepted the office on the condition that King William IV would
create new peers to carry the Bill through the House of Lords.

In contrast to two recent meetings on the site demanding reform, the mood this time was celebratory. The Rev. Hugh Hutton is seen opening the meeting with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the success of Reform. The vast audience of reputedly 50,000 attendees echoed Hutton's fervent 'Amen, Amen!'
Also pictured is Chairman Thomas Attwood who took over proceedings after Hutton’s introduction.

Hayden was unsuccessful in obtaining sufficient £1 subscriptions from reformers to execute the final version of the oil painting, so the painting hanging in Birmingham Art Gallery remains a sketch.