THE 200th anniversary of The Peterloo Massacre is rapidly approaching and special events are taking place in Tameside where many of the 60,000 pro-democracy and anti-poverty protesters came from.
It was on August 16, 1819 that the peaceful demonstration took place on a huge open area around what is now St Peter’s Square in Manchester.
An estimated 18 people, including four women and a child, died from sabre cuts and trampling and nearly 700 men, women and children were seriously injured.
The massacre, carried out by yeomanry on horsebacks armed with sabres and clubs, occurred during a period of immense political tension and mass protests. Fewer than two per cent of the population had the vote, and hunger was rife with the disastrous corn laws making bread unaffordable.
Historians acknowledge that Peterloo was hugely influential in ordinary people winning the right to vote, led to the rise of the Chartist Movement from which grew the Trade Unions, and also resulted in the establishment of the Manchester Guardian newspaper.
Tameside Local History Forum and the History On Your Doorstep Research Group has organised Tameside’s calendar of events.
An exhibition is currently touring Tameside with colourful embroidered banners and highlighting local people who demonstrated on that day for their right to vote. They have been made by local church and community groups and are on display at:
- Old Chapel Unitarian Church, Dukinfield: Friday, May 10 (1.30pm-3.30pm), Saturday, May 11 (10am-11am) and Sunday, May 12 (10am-noon).
• Victoria Park Community Centre, Denton: Saturday, May 18, Sunday, May 19 (11am-4pm).
• Dukinfield Library: May 21-30
• Droylsden Library: May 30-June 6
• Christ Church, Taunton Road Ashton: June 7, 8 and 9 (times to be confirmed).
• Ashton Parish Church: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, June 14-17 (times to be confirmed).
• Portland Basin Museum: July 16- August 16.
• George Lawton Hall and St George’s Church, Mossley: August 18 – September 1.
• Albion Church, Ashton: September 13 and 14 (times to be confirmed).
• Fairfield Moravian: September 14 and 15 (11am-5pm).
• Ashton Local Studies and Archive Centre: September 17, 18, 19. A talk Tameside Remembers Peterloo by History On Your Doorstep will be on September 18 at 2pm. Booking essential on 0161 342 4242.• St John’s Church, Ashton: September 19-29.
The Free Radicals group is giving a concert at Wharf Tavern, Caroline Street, Stalybridge, on Friday, June 28 (7.30pm for 8pm).
Tickets are £5 and available from Ashton Local Studies Library.
A talk and book signing by professor of history Robert Poole, author of Witness to a Massacre, takes place at Ashton Local Studies on July 3 at 2pm.
Two new books on Peterloo, The English Uprising and Witness to a Massacre, will be available in May and July respectively.
A talk about Peterloo by Kate Booth takes place at Old Chapel Unitarian Church, Dukinfield, on July 10 at 7pm. The banners will also be exhibited.
An exhibition about Peterloo will be held at The Ash Tree, Ashton, throughout August.
Audenshaw Local History Society will be hosting the exhibition at Ryecroft Hall on August 14 (11am-3pm) and it will also be Peterloo Day with the Scallywags Theatre, T-shirt printing, badge making, Peterloo trial, children making banners and other attractions.
Tameside History Forum members will be commemorating the Peterloo Massacre at Ashton Market Hall on August 16 at 1pm, exactly 200 years to the day.
Concert by Stalybridge Old Band at Stalybridge Civic Hall on August 17. Tickets £6 (event to be confirmed).