Peterloo Memorial Campaign Events

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PETERLOO PICNIC - 196th Anniversary Commemoration
1pm - 3pm Sunday 16th August 2015

Join us for the biggest commemoration yet.

There'll be the same banners, marchers arriving, and the powerful reading of the names of the dead, as before, but we then want to try something new - 'The Peterloo Picnic' - thereby completing what the protesters originally set out to do.

We'll be laying out a giant version of the Peterloo 'spiderweb map' (below) on the apron, with picnic blankets marking each of the towns that send marchers to St Peter's Fields. We then want people from those areas to occupy them... with each empty blanket being an invitation for that town to join us in 2016.

2015 Peterloo anniversary map

Lightweight tape will make up the black lines linking all the towns, with Manchester itself marked by our giant Liberty Cap statue.

Manchester Central Conference Centre the centre are being really co-operative and helpful, and have offered the use of the South half of the space for the commemoration, despite them having three events on that weekend.

We have a provisional 'yes' to participate from Maxine Peake, John Henshaw, Dave Haslam, The Lord Mayor (the old civic role, not the new disputed 'political' one) Dr Robert Poole and Sheilagh Lemoine (who's a descendent of one of the original protesters.) Hopefully there'll be more to follow...

We want people to bring a simple meal of bread and cheese, and while they eat and chat our acoustic musicians will serenade them with appropriate songs.

The more costumes, banners, hats, bonnets, shawls, hampers, Liberty Caps, the better! Please bring signs on poles that will indicate the name of your town / blanket!

This year we aim to get the basic idea out there, but in the years leading up to 2019 we'll also be aiming to greatly expand the event and hold a mock election based on policies not politicians. The protesters plans to hold an illegal vote in 1819 was a key and much overlooked reason for why they were attacked so brutally.

There'll be modest amplification this year, as with the numbers expanding, it's become increasingly difficult to hear the ceremony. The event should be finished by 3pm... although there's often other Peterloo events in the city that evening.

Join us! Bring all of the above! And most importantly, bring others!

195th Anniversary, Sunday 17th August 2014

The 195th Anniversary saw a huge increase in numbers, with several high profile supporters joining us for a solemn 'Reading of the names of the dead', a ceremony we now plan to build on over the years.

Each of our guests, together with members of the campaign, read a name apiece, along with as much biographical detail as we could find.

194th Anniversary, Sunday 16th August 2013

We were pleased to have actress Maxine Peake, fresh from her performance of Shelley's 'Masque of Anarchy' join us (along with the Lord Mayor) to read the names of the dead under the Peterloo plaque on the side of the former Free Trade Hall for the 16th August commemoration.

There was a record turnout, and this excellent, accurate piece from the M.E.N. was part of a pretty wide (but very varying in quality) media interest.

There is a video of Maxine reading the names:

Design Day, Sunday 18th August 2013

View the designs and take part in the voting - more about the Designs.

193rd Anniversary, Sunday 19th August 2012

The event generated plenty of media coverage and saw good numbers attending. Council Leader Richard Leese commented to us that Peterloo was a 'minority interest', so let's hope they take notice.

Flowers were laid at the foot of the Liberty Cap. Common or garden ones are totally appropriate.

191st Anniversary Design Competition

We've launched our own Peterloo Memorial Designs on Facebook. This is a place for you to submit your ideas for what the memorial should be.

We want it to act as a resource for the decision making process, as a benchmark... for what can be done, as a democratic input into the process, and as inspiration for artists seeking to create the finished piece.

Please join up and submit your ideas. if you're uncomfortable drawing, find a friendly artist to visualize it for you. If you're involved in a school or college try and involve the students.


The commemoration event this year was a stunning success. Billed as the first time the liberty cap has been raised in Manchester for almost 200 years, the event attracted 200 people.

People marched in along the original routes from Oldham, Middleton and Stockport, carrying replica banners. 20 especially produced modern Liberty Caps were raised on sticks, with music provided by singers from Middleton, who later performed the debut of their 'Peterloo - soldiers on the rampage' at the Angel Pub in Manchester. The crowd then made their way to the peace gardens to lay a Peterloo wreath.

Peterloo Memorial 2009

Speakers included Jim Battle, the deputy leader of the council, and Tony Lloyd MP. Peterloo Chairman Paul Fitzgerald emphasised how crucial it is that the design of the memorial be realistic and informative:

"This area has often been described as sacred ground and it's haunted, we think, by how poorly we've remembered these people. For almost 200 years the memory of Peterloo has been ignored, fudged or whitewashed, so it's crucial, if we want to put these ghosts to rest, that the new memorial changes all that.

The memorial needs to be prominent, realistic, informative and respectful- a design that actually informs people of what happened here, and not an abstract, meaningless block of stone, or once again, we'll have let them down.

Hundreds of people signed the campaign petition demanding that the proposed memorial is "prominent, realistic, informative and respectful".

Peterloo Memorial Procession

Peterloo featured heavily in artist Jeremy Deller's piece 'Procession' as part of the Manchester International Festival, Sunday 5th July, Deansgate. The replica banners and other peterloo memorabilia then featured in the related exhibition at Cornerhouse.

There was plenty of press coverage, including all the local TV stations:
BBC News
Manchester Evening News
Oldham Chronicle

Exhibition at the Central Library

Terry Wyke and Stephen Yates have curated a superb collection of old and new Peterloo memorabilia, on display in the 1st floor exhibition cases. This runs until September 2009.


We pasted a dignified memorial onto the floor very near the location of the speaker's cart, laid flowers, and added to it the mettalic horseshoe shapes as suggested at our design day; one for each person killed.

commemorative flowers and 'plaque'

This sadly didn't last more than a day, though was seen by the large crowd attending that day's superp public Peterloo history walk hosted by Jonathan Schofield.

We then moved on to the busier location of St Peter's Square, and handed out numerous flyers.

campaign members commemorating the anniversary with period banners

BBC local radio was there and we gave an interview. The Council arranged their own photo opportunity but didn't invite us along.


Thanks to everyone who came along and made it a success. There were some great ideas, a few of which are reproduced here.


This was the most popular idea of the day- creating the possibility of a monument that covers a very large area without being prohibitively expensive. The hoofprints could be used independently, or in conjunction with a central monument / plaque.

The hoofprints could follow the paths taken by the cavalry on the day and then collect in a violent looking melee once they reached the area covered by the crowd. The names of those who died could be marked over a wide area by smaller plaques, each of which is visited by the hoofprints.

Other variations on this 'floor' sculpture included:
  • Footprints leading to the site reflecting the different districts who marched into Manchester for the day.
  • Fallen bonnets and caps, very reminiscent of Samuel Bamford's account of the aftermath of the massacre.
  • Fallen, or half fallen banners in the midst of the hoofprints.
  • A fallen or broken sabre.


People felt very strongly that monument should provide a clear description of the event, and that some form of plaque should be used to achieve this.

Liberty Caps

Emerged again and again in the designs, as these were a major part of the banners on the day, and very carefully targeted by the Yeomanry. Read an explanation of this very old and powerful symbol of democracy and freedom


Late in 2007 the Council committed to erecting a statue to Peterloo, and soon after we met with Virginia Tandy, Director of Manchester City Galleries.

They have brought in some specialist consultants to start the ball rolling. We hope to be involved in the decision making. Our bottom line is that the statue follows our set of minimum criteria.

In his blog Council Leader Richard Lees said:

"...And this isn't the end of the matter. The young people from Salford and the Peterloo Memorial Campaign have rightly pointed out that such a significant event in British history ought to have a significant monument to commemorate it. That's something I hope we can do by this time next year."


The Leader of the Council, Lord Mayor, schoolchildren from Salford, assorted media and about a dozen of us from the Campaign group were in attandance as the new plaque was unveiled.

Pictured with the Lord Mayor is Sheila, one of the Group and a direct descendant of one of the Peterloo protestors.


On 16th August 2007 we braved the Manchester rain and with the press and tv crews in attendance taped our proposed new red plaque over the existing one (see both plaques here) and laid flowers beneath.

At the end of the protest we nailed a large waterproof version of the new plaque onto the pavement in St Peter's Square and left flowers next to it.

We only expected this plaque to be temporary - but others added flowers to it (including a beautiful white wreath from the Central Manchester Labour Party) and it lasted until the bank holiday weekend.

While removing the old dry flowers and cleaning it up the other day, we noticed an amazing number of people stopping to read it! We think this is because of the 'someone-died-here flower effect..