The Annual Peterloo March
Peterloo was a critical event in Middleton's past, and the number of people killed and injured, but because ultimately it changed public opinion to influence the extension of the right to vote and give us the democracy we enjoy today. We've discovered that we are part of a long tradition, people have been demanding a fitting memorial for well over a hundred years! Let's make it happen. Currently the only public memorial is a plaque on the side of the Radisson Hotel, formerly the Free Trade Hall. An 1842 obelisk-style monument to the event in Ancoats once existed, but deteriorated so badly it was demolished by 1888.
A 1951 mural in the former Free Trade Hall (sold to the Radisson Hotel chain, who have converted the building into a luxury hotel) still exists in an upstairs corridor, but it, sadly, is as strikingly 'airbrushed' as the plaque, showing washed out, blank banners, protesters apparently viciously fighting amongst themselves, and the cavalry coming to the rescue. We want to see a permanent statue in a prominent position within St Peter's Fields. Such as the proposed design from 1819 of a yeoman on horseback trampling peaceful protestors.
The call for an appropriate public remembrance isn't without precedent. It's been going on since the 1830's! In a 2006 Guardian newspaper poll 269 voted for a greater memorial to this battlefield of democratic martyrdom second only to The Putney Debates. (The Guardian was formed as a direct result of the massacre, and ran a piece 'Battle for the memory of Peterloo' on our campaign).
If Manchester continues to ignore this profound event from its own history, it's hard not to wonder what would the people who lost their lives on the day make of our collective desire to forget them? Manchester City Council have now committed to a new memorial to Peterloo. We continue to lobby for a memorial that isn't of a meaningless or abstract nature.
If you would like to become involved in the project, please visit peterloomassacre.org