Friday, 3 October 2008

peterloo massacre memorial

Plans are afoot (or should that be ahoof?) to create a fitting memorial in Manchester to the victims of the Peterloo Massacre. The idea is to create a series of granite bricks in the pavement, representing horses’ hooves converging on the hustings.

I think it’s a great idea. We were filming in Manchester for Timelines a couple of years ago, and the site of the massacre, St Peter’s Fields, is so ruthlessly modern: it’s a broad swathe of brick pavement under the looming arch of the GMex – it has lost all sense of the past – I think a subtle reminder underfoot of that memorable day would be brilliant. Watch the clip to get an idea of St Peter’s Fields today:

(To watch the whole of my Timelines report on the Peterloo Massacre, click on this link to Timelines TV).

The group behind for the new memorial are meeting at Manchester Town Hall on Saturday October 18th. It’s an open meeting to raise support – more info here. There’s lots of interesting material on their website, including different suggestions for the style of memorial (a lesson’s worth of resources there for interprations of Peterloo). Oh, and a great story about how they got Manchester City Council to change the wording (and the colour) of old blue plaque, from this:

To this:

Interesting, no? Radically different interpretations. (Although don’t read too much into the colour change – red is apparently used to commemorate events, blue to commemorate people).

Final note – a letter in The Times a couple of days ago:
“Whether the masses at Peterloo were ready for the vote is, of course, a matter of opinion”.
Good old Thunderer. Two hundred years on, and plus ├ža change.

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