The Peterloo 2019 Project
On 16th August 2015 I saw actor Maxine Peake read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘Mask of Anarchy’ at Manchesters’s Albert Hall which was then going through a refurbishment programme. The fact that there was a certain amount of disarray, due to building works, only added to the atmospheric staging of Shelly’s poem which was done by Peake in a candlelit stage setting. The memory of that Peterloo memorial reading has stayed with me. How a summers day in 1819, with an almost carnival atmosphere ended in tragedy, but which became a catalyst for societal change.
I was therefore delighted to receive the press release below which announces funding for The Peterloo 2019 Projectproject to celebrate this momentous event in Manchester’s history
Manchester Histories and People’s History Museum have been successful in securing an almost £70,000 development grant* from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Peterloo 2019 project, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.
On 16th August 1819 in St Peter’s Fields, Manchester government troops – including local yeomanry, charged a crowd of around 60,000 people who’d gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation resulting in the deaths of an estimated 18 people and the injury of over 650 others. 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of what became known as the Peterloo Massacre, an event widely acknowledged as a significant moment in the history of public protest and which has become synonymous with the struggle for democracy and the fight against political repression.
Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, Manchester Histories (MH) and People’s History Museum (PHM) will work in partnership with Manchester City Council, Historic England, University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University as well as a host of other partners and individuals across Greater Manchester to develop Peterloo 2019, a project that will commemorate one of the most important episodes in the history of Greater Manchester.
The grant of £69,200 will enable the partners to kick-start the further fundraising needed and begin to develop a substantial programme of activity around the pertinent themes of protest, democracy and freedom of speech. Initial plans for the Peterloo 2019 project include producing new learning resources for children and young people, creating a dynamic web portal and GPS triggered walking app to tell the story of Peterloo; training a crack team of volunteer Peterloo experts who’ll be helping run creative events at venues and festivals across Greater Manchester; launching the Peterloo Descendants: My Family Tree with historian and genealogist Michaela Hulme. With opportunities for the public to get involved at every stage.
The Peterloo Cultural and Public network group were formed in 2014 by MH and PHM with regular meetings being held for anyone to contribute their ideas to Peterloo 2019. Anyone wanting to be part of future events should sign up to the Manchester Histories mailing list at www.manchesterhistories.co.uk.
Maxine Peake, actor and Patron of Manchester Histories, said: “It’s wonderful news that the Manchester Histories project and the People’s History Museum have been given funding by the Heritage Lottery. This is an event in history that needs that needs huge recognition. It is what shaped us as a city and as a nation. It is not just a story of local interest but International interest too.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Manchester City Council, said: “We look forward to working with Manchester Histories, the People’s History Museum and our other partners in developing this project to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Peterloo. Support from the Heritage Lottery Fund is a very welcome boost, which will help us to interpret the protesters’ world-changing legacy for today’s Mancunians.”
Karen Shannon, CEO Manchester Histories, said: “The Peterloo Massacre plays a significant role in the history of Manchester, and being able to take a lead on developing the commemorations of this important event, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund is a great privilege for Manchester Histories.
“We want more people to be aware of Peterloo and explore some of the parallels of what happened then with what is happening in today’s society, not just in Manchester but also globally.”
Jenny Mabbott, Head of Collections and Engagement at the People’s History Museum, said: “As a moment in time Peterloo was to shape the democratic future of all, being a catalyst not only for working-class politics, but for the engagement of women in the suffrage movement. Through a dedicated learning programme we’ll be inviting people to explore Peterloo’s cultural and political themes, which are as relevant today as they have ever been. The events that took place at St Peter’s Field on 16 August 1819 are etched into the DNA of Manchester, and, as the home of idea worth fighting for, we are delighted to be a partner in Peterloo 2019.”