Building the resistance
One of nine images from Red Saunders’ Hidden Peterloo Massacre Tableaux
These were the early days of the Industrial Revolution and Manchester was the centre of the key industry of cotton production. Only the very rich had the vote in 1819. There was not an MP for Manchester. The Corn Laws resulted in bread riots. Mechanisation of traditional industries caused unemployment and starvation, leading to the Luddites’ resistance. The debts from the Napoleonic Wars led to unstable markets for industrial output. Wages were routinely cut. Workers and their families paid the price.
The Tory governments had viciously supressed demands for reform and made trade unions illegal. Yet working people managed to find ways to combine, organise and prepare for change. Hamden Clubs and Reform Unions were formed and the demand for women’s equality was aired.
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 project, through reimagining those events, reproduces 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
Designed and printed by unionised labour. www.kavitagraphics.co.uk and www.rapspiderweb.co.uk