This afternoon, hundreds of people turned out for the 199th commemoration of the Peterloo Massacre ? and voted for St Peter's Square in Manchester to be renamed Peterloo Square, either for the month of the 200th anniversary next year or permanently. The pressure is now on Manchester City Council to oblige.
Meanwhile, Paul Fitzgerald of the Peterloo Memorial Campaign announced that Jeremy Deller's provisional design for a permanent memorial in the city will be revealed on 31st October at Central Library.
This year, the commemoration focused on the women who created the first female reform societies and on 16th August 1819 marched to St Peter's Field to take part in the huge democracy demonstration which was attacked by the yeomanry leaving 18 dead and hundreds injured.
It's estimated that one in nine of the crowd were women but they made up one in four of those injured in the massacre. Accounts, led by Maxine Peake, were read out of the injuries suffered by the women, as related to a call for a Parliamentary inquiry after the horrific events...
"Mary Black of Manchester was attacked by yeomanry in so savage and brutal a manner that she cannot possibly find words to describe. She was trampled unconscious and on recovering discovered that her feet were dreadfully lacerated and her whole body was one continued mass of bruises. She never perfectly recovered from the injuries she received...
"Margaret Booth of Manchester was ridden down by the yeomanry and so severely crushed and bruised that she was taken off the ground for dead. She was carried to the infirmary and she has lost an eye in consequence of the injury she received...
"Elizabeth Gaunt of Manchester, heavily pregnant, got into a hackney coach for safety when the yeomanry charged. She was violently dragged from the coach by some of the special constables who beat her violently with their truncheons and was then ridden down by cavalry. Covered in blood she was carried into a house where the magistrates were assembled over wine which they appeared to have drunk to the point of inebriation. On her asking for a glass of water they refused with language too brutal and indecent to state, and she was removed by order of the magistrates to the New Bailey prison..."
In there, Elizabeth Gaunt was dragged up flights of stairs, refused food for a day and a half and lost her baby... "Humanity recoils with horror on this foul stain on our national character", the account concluded.
It was all truly horrid stuff that brought the Massacre back to life, recalling what happened in the 'Sacred cause of liberty'. And it's getting brought even more back to life in the Hidden Project by the legendary Red Saunders, founder of Rock Against Racism and a top, top photographer, who is going to recreate the Peterloo Massacre as part of his incredible series of tableaus of 'hidden' working class and radical history.
After the commemoration dozens of people queued in the rain to sign up to be a part of the Hidden Project, either as models, props makers, stage builders, caterers, drivers or just general volunteers...
"The aim of the project is to reproduce important historical scenes involving dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and non-conformists who so often have been hidden from history" Red Saunders explained.
"Tony Benn, the original patron, said that those who see these reproductions will then be able to identify with past generations and gain knowledge that they are part of a worldwide movement that has always existed and must be sustained. What better example of hidden history than the Peterloo Massacre..."
There's a full Salford Star interview with Red Saunders about the Hidden Project - click here
To be involved in the project email firstname.lastname@example.org and check his website to see some amazing images ? click here
There's also a superb short video by Rafe Conn in which Paul Fitzgerald talks about the Peterloo Massacre and his forthcoming graphic novel Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre ? click here
With Mike Leigh's Peterloo film coming out and plans already in the making for the 2019, 200th anniversary of Peterloo, next year's commemoration is going to be huge...
To keep in touch with all developments see the Peterloo Memorial Campaign Facebook page - click here