Peterloo Memorial Campaign News
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.
191st Anniversary Design Competition!
We've launched our own Peterloo Memorial Design Competition 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.
190th ANNIVERSARY EVENT
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
BBC local radio was there and we gave an interview. The Council arranged their own photo opportunity but didn't invite us along.
MEMORIAL DESIGN DAY, 5TH JULY
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.
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
A NEW STATUE
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."
A NEW PLAQUE
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..