Manchester

Peterloo anniversary: Hundreds gather in Manchester

People at the Peterloo commemorations
Image caption The anniversary was marked by songs, poems and dramatic performances

Hundreds of people have gathered in Manchester to mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre.

Performances recalled the pro-democracy gathering of 60,000 people which ended with the deaths of at least 18.

The centrepiece came at 13:30 BST when the names of those killed in a cavalry charge at St Peter's Field were read out.

A new memorial to the victims by artist Jeremy Deller opened this week.

People from across the UK have come to take part in the commemoration.

In one event, From the Crowd, more than 3,000 people participated in "immersive theatre" based on eye-witness accounts.


At the scene - Kaleigh Watterson, BBC News

Despite the rain, hundreds turned out to remember what happened on this spot 200 years ago.

Through poetry, speeches and music, Peterloo was commemorated - and at times, the crowd was asked to join in.

At first, people were confused, with many unsure if they should be singing or speaking, but enthusiasm eventually brought them altogether in one voice.

The performance reflected Peterloo's original purpose of protest.

It nodded at local and national issues, with commentary on the row over accessibility of the memorial and the city's ongoing homelessness crisis sitting alongside references to the financial crash and Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre.

It was moving and emotionally charged, comparing the grievances that drove people to protest at Peterloo with modern injustices, and was a fitting way to remember what happened.


Image caption Louise and Lily Cogher said the gathering was "quite emotional"

Louise Cogher, from Manchester, said she felt "quite emotional" about the gathering.

"When you look around the world and see people still fighting for rights you see how brave these people were," she said.

Gill Brown and Alan Brooks, from Stockport, said they had not heard of Peterloo until a few years ago.

Image caption Gill Brown and Alan Brooks only learned about Peterloo in recent years

"We've forgotten about it for 195 years really, so it's nice to bring it back as it's an important part of Manchester, England and the world."

Jenny Waters, 28, and her husband Robert, also 28, from east London, decided to incorporate the event as part of their holiday.

"Anything like this is important to remember and to bring it to people's attention," she said.

Image caption Jenny and Robert Waters came from London to the gathering

Film directors Mike Leigh and Danny Boyle were among those involved in reading out the names of the 18 people who died, as red smoke poured from Manchester Cathedral.

Other events over the anniversary weekend include screenings of Leigh's film about the massacre and an unveiling of a blue plaque dedicated to John Knight, who was jailed for his part in the rally.

Image caption People were invited to take part in the performance
Image caption Event staff battled the elements to make sure the performance went ahead
Image caption The memorial, designed by Jeremy Deller, opened this week
Image caption The memorial has been the subject of complaints from disabled activists
Image caption Environmental campaigners Extinction Rebellion brought red-robed protesters to the event

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