FINDING MEMORIALS TO PETERLOO
With the passage of 200 years since Peterloo is is well-nigh impossible to find any tangible evidence of its commemoration.
Several notable figures with connections to the event have statues in Manchester and elsewhere and there are some whose final resting place is know and still visible. There are also a number of blue plaques identifying locations around Greater Manchester in connection with Peterloo.
The locations of all the statues and plaques can be found on the 'Beyond Peterloo'
It was only as recently as 2006 that a movement to ensure that Manchester would finally have a monument.
The Peterloo Memorial Campaign (PMC) group was formed around that time and has worked doggedly to promote knowledge and awareness of The Peterloo Massacre.
Their first 'action'was to replace the euphemistic blue plaque on
the front of The Free Trade Hall with their version of a more
accurate and appropriate red plaque.
The stated belief of PMC was that any monument should, at the very least, meet three specific criteria. A document to that effect was prepared and agreed with Manchester City Council.
This statement required the monument to be Respectful, Informative and Prominent R - I - P.
After years of lobbying and numerous meetings between the PMC and MCC, Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller was appointed to design the monument. Discussions were held between the artist and PMC regarding the imagery to be included in the monument and how best these could be incorporated.
In 2018 the design was unveiled at an event held in Manchester Central Library.
Although the design was, at first, welcomed by many and fulfilled the R.I.P. criteria, it soon became apparent that a significant number of people were dissatisfied that the concept of a 'mound' upon which people could meet and from which crowds could be addressed was exclusive towards people of restricted mobility. Further meeting ensued when a solution to the accessibility issue was sought but, despite various suggestions being put forward, no solution could be found that could be implemented within the time available.
MCC decided to go ahead with the memorial as planned.
During May and June 2019 a movement developed to demand MCC provide retrospective adaptions to the monument to make it fully accessible to everyone.
Manchester City Council (MCC) accepted their suggestion and within a short time a new plaque was installed.
However, the need for a memorial was still pressing.
Manchester's Peterloo Memorial
THE HENRY HUNT MONUMENT, MANCHESTER
After Peterloo local Chartists collected money to pay for a monument to 'Orator' Henry Hunt.
Rev James Scholefield provided a space for the monument in the grounds of his 'Round House' chapel on Every Street, Ancoats.
At the inauguration of the monument On Good Friday 1842, Feargus O’Connor, a self-proclaimed 'Huntite' laid a written account of the Peterloo Massacre beneath its foundation stone.
However the monument lasted less than 50 years.
It was dismantled in 1888 after falling into a dangerous condition.
THE HENRY HUNT MEMORIAL PLAQUE, MANCHESTER
This cast bronze wall plaque commemorates the role of Henry Hunt in the Peterloo Massacre.
In 1908, twenty years after the removal of the ill-fated Hunt obelisk in Ancoats, the Manchester sculptor, John Cassidy, was commissioned to design this plaque as a replacement.
Its size was impressive, measuring 1135 mm x 765 mm
The plaque hung in the Manchester Reform Club on King Street. However, declining membership in the late 20th century led the club to merge with the Engineers' Club in 1967 to form the Manchester Club, but this failed to prove financially viable and was wound up in 1988, the premises becoming a Bar and restaurant.
The plaque was then displayed for a short time in the 'Making of Manchester' gallery in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry until the exhibition was changed. It has since been in storage, awaiting a permanent home.
THE NAMES OF THE VICTIMS IN CENTRAL LIBRARY ATRIUM
During the refurbishment of Manchester Central Library which was completed in 2014 a glass atrium was constructed across part of Library Walk, linking the library with the Town Hall extension. Parts of the new library had been extended into the basement of the town hall extension during the restructuring of the facilities.
When the new atrium was opened, set into the floor were a number of mosaic 'cotton flowers' similar to those in the town hall itself. Amongst these there were 15 which had a red light in the centre and the name of one of the victims engraved around it.
Sadly, there is now explanatory information to draw attention to this tribute or to explain it to those who are unaware of the significance of the names.