One of nine images from Red Saunders’ Hidden Peterloo Massacre Tableaux
The working and living conditions of the working class were dire and they had no political means to effect change. Tory governments had brutally repressed trade unions. In 1817 a petition was organised, to be taken by volunteers to the Prince Regent (substituting for the mentally ill George III). They planned to walk to London, carrying a blanket for warmth at night. These Blanketeers assembled at St Peter’s Fields on the 10th March 1817 with 12,000 supporters. As magistrates read the Riot Act, hundreds of Blanketeers escaped, pursued by cavalry. 200 were arrested in Stockport, 200 made it to Macclesfield, 50 got to Leek and a few to Derby. It is thought that one made it to London and handed the petition to Lord Sidmouth, the Home Secretary. Nothing came of that effort.
The Peterloo Massacre
On August 16th 1819 tens of thousands of working people – men, women and children – walked from surrounding towns to the centre of Manchester to hear the call for the right to vote.
The local ruling class unleashed the constabulary and mounted Yeomanry on the peaceful crowd. At least 18 people were killed, including children, and around 650 were severely injured.
The Hidden Project shines photographic light on great moments in the long struggle of working people for democracy and social justice. The aim of the project, through reimagining those events, is to reproduce important historic scenes involving the dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and non-conformists who have so often been hidden from history.
Red Saunders is a professional photographer who combines his photographic practice with cultural, musical and political activism. Images copyright Red Saunders 2019. Further information, reading list and full credit list of supporters and volunteers: www.hiddenpeterloomassacre.com . For further information firstname.lastname@example.org
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