The Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819 is the most dramatic incident in British political history. Sabre-weilding troops charged 60,000 Mancunians at a rally called to lower the price of bread and demand the vote. More than a dozen people died and some 650 were injured.
This guided tour, staying close to the site of St Peter’s Field in Manchester city centre where the events took place, has been devised by Ed Glinert, political commentator with 30 years’ experience for various leading newspapers, magazines and publishers, who worked with legendary left-wing political journalist Paul Footcombatting injustice for Private Eye.
We go into extraordinary detail, explaining not just the momentous events of the day ...itself, 16 August 1819, but bringing in related events and themes: the birth of the Manchester Guardian; the Cato Street Conspiracy; Tom Paine’s bones; the Six Acts – even Anthony Burgess.
The first few decades of the 19th century, despite being enshrined in public imagination as the elegant age of the Regency, were a time of severe political repression in England. The Conservative government of Lord Liverpool was fearful of the kind of revolutionary activity recently witnessed in France and so decided to stamp out all dissent and free speech.
The government was at war with France which saw Wellington triumph over Napoleon’s forces at Waterloo in 1815.
But as Paul Foot once wrote, the British government also waged war against its own people.
Ed Glinert, who has researched the story for decades, explains the build-up to the events, the violence of the day and the dreadful aftermath as he brings his unique touch to this chilling story.