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Manchester Peterloo Picnic Commemoration 16th Aug

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

GMB To Support Peterloo Massacre Commemoration On Sunday 16th August 2015 In Front Of Manchester Central Convention Complex

A fitting memorial to the martyrs massacred when a mass rally by pro-democracy campaigners was crushed with brutal force is required to mark a world changing event says GMB.

GMB members are being encouraged to support the Peterloo Picnic event in Manchester on the 16th August 2015 and to back the campaign for a fitting memorial to the martyrs of democracy killed in St Peter's Field on 16th August 1819. See notes to editors for copy of press release by Peterloo Memorial Campaign.

Paul McCarthy, GMB Regional Secretary, said "GMB is proud to support the Peterloo Picnic event on the 16th August and to support the campaign for a fitting memorial to the martyrs of democracy who were massacred when a mass rally by pro-democracy campaigners was crushed with brutal force in what is widely recognised as a world changing event. 

In the early part of the 19th century, when less than 2% of the British population had the vote, 60,000 people were protesting peacefully in St Peters Field Manchester for the right to elect their own MP when they were charged by soldiers on horseback cutting them down with sabres, killing 18 people and seriously injuring hundreds more. 

Peterloo was hugely influential in eventually giving ordinary people the vote and leading to the rise of the forerunners of the trade union movement. 

GMB is encouraging members and activists to come along to support this event and bring a simple meal of bread and cheese and take part in the ‘Peterloo Picnic’ which is what the protesters originally intended to do."


Contact: Neil Smith on 0161 627 3062 or 07740 804063 or  Email: or Paul Mc Carthy 07740 804040

Notes to editors

Press release from the Peterloo Memorial Campaign dated 28 July;




Had the 'Sunday-best dressed' 60,000 strong crowd who gathered in St Peter's Field on 16th August 1819 not been savagely attacked by the yeomanry and cavalry, they had planned to listen peacefully to passionate speeches by Henry 'Orator' Hunt and others, to enjoy the music and atmosphere around them, and to eat the food they had brought along.

Tradition has it one protester's life was saved from a sabre cut to the head by the block of cheese he was carrying under his hat for his lunch...

In this spirit the Peterloo Memorial Campaign will be holding a 'Peterloo Picnic' as part of its annual commemoration ceremony at 1pm on Sunday 16th August- the 196th anniversary of the fateful day. A giant map of the routes people from all over the region took to St Peter's Field will be constructed on the plaza / apron in front of Manchester Central Convention Complex (the focal point of the original rally), with picnic blankets and their occupants representing each town, eg Middleton, Oldham, Stockport, Salford, Wigan... and each blanket will be serenaded by our roving musicians!

St Peter's Field itself will be indicated with a giant 15ft 'Liberty Cap' sculpture- the cap being one of the most potent symbols of the day, and a target for the soldiers' sabres.

Participants are invited to arrive at 12:30 and to bring blankets and a simple meal eg bread and cheese. Period dress, eg caps, hats, bonnets and shawls all extremely welcome! Acoustic musicians wanting to sing appropriate themed songs will be warmly received.

Many of those attending will have walked the original routes to St Peter's Field from their respective areas- so far we have confirmed marchers coming in from MIDDLETON, SADDLEWORTH, ECCLES, BOLTON, STOCKPORT, WHITEFIELD, PRESTWICH, GEE CROSS, SALFORD and SMEDLEY.

All enquiries and updates re these walks and their routes should be directed to Martin Gittins who is co-ordinating them- An itinerary of routes and times is available on request.

The commemoration will begin at 1pm, with a solemn reading of the names of the 15 who died, including as much biographical detail as is known for each of them. 15 readers, including-

Maxine Peake (Actor)

John Henshaw (Actor)

C P Lee (Writer/Musician)

Sefton Mottley (DJ/Producer)

Dave Haslam (DJ/Writer)

George Borowski (Musician)

Robert Poole (Historian)

Stella Grundy (Musician/Playwright/Actor)

The Lord Mayor (Paul Murphy)

-will each take a name. One of our guests will also be reading the most accurate reconstruction we have of the speech Henry Hunt began to give as the yeomanry closed in on the central platform and then brandished their sabres before attacking the crowd. 'Open Voice' choir will be singing a recently rediscovered song written in Lincoln Prison by Samuel Bamford, one of the 1819 organizers- which has not been performed in public since the commemoration in 1821.

“For nearly two hundred years the memory of Peterloo has been repressed and whitewashed,” said Paul Fitzgerald, chair of the campaign. “What happened in 1819 still challenges us today to ask tough questions about protecting and deepening the democratic legacy they passed on to us. As we near the 200th anniversary people are gathering not just to honour the names of those who gave their lives, but to loudly demand a prominent, informative and above all unashamed permanent memorial to their courage and determination.”


Contact Paul Fitzgerald 07800 535471


Last year's commemoration attracted an estimated 200 people, reflecting a trend of ever growing numbers since the event began.

The campaign was founded in 2007 to demand a 'Prominent, Informative and Respectful' memorial to be created near the original site. After the group pasted its own newly worded plaque over the shamefully euphemistic 1970's blue plaque on the front of the former Free Trade Hall, this was rapidly replaced by the City Council with a new and accurate red version.

In 2013 the campaign ran an informal and open design competition to begin circulating potential ideas for the memorial.

Richard Leese recently announced that artist Jeremy Deller has been approached to consider creating a permanent memorial, and the campaign has already had an informal and very positive discussion with the artist about the project.

More information-

An A3 print resolution non-copyright and free version of the 'period style' poster attached here is available from us upon request. It is based upon and satirizes genuine anti Peterloo government posters from 1819.

Facebook event page 'Peterloo Picnic'

Twitter @PeterlooMemoria

Please feel free to print our email address as part of the article for those wishing to contact us-

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