Peterloo massacre period art

The events of the 1819 Peterloo massacre still echo in politics today, with our right to protest, strike and protect our city’s heritage under threat from elites. This year’s commemorations feature speakers, music, a talk on media democracy – and a protest to save the historic Britons Protection pub from developers.

This Sunday (14 August) trades unions and the People’s Assembly will commemorate the 1819 Peterloo massacre of parliamentary reform protesters by leading a march beginning at 12.30pm from Piccadilly Gardens to St. Peter’s Square. Speeches from some of the Left’s biggest names begin in the square at 1pm, including Jeremy Corbyn, Maxine Peake and Ken Loach.

After this, there will be music from Joe Solo, Claire Mooney and Gerry O’Gorman, and a discussion on media democracy (details TBC)..

The Peterloo Memorial Campaign (@peterloomemoria) are organising a protest against the proposed ’Apex Tower’ development.

Tuesday 16 August marks the actual anniversary of the Peterloo massacre, and sees the annual Reading of the Names of the Dead ceremony from 5.30pm at the Peterloo Memorial in front of Manchester Central. But this year’s memorial reading will be followed by a protest at 7pm outside the Britons Protection, to save the pub from the threat posed by the towering ‘Apex’ development reported in The Meteor earlier this year.

The pub is one of the few remaining city centre buildings that stood near the site of Peterloo in 1819, and it is said that its name has connections to both the Peterloo uprising and the refuge it provided for people hiding from recruiters for the Napoleonic Wars of 1803–1815. It is also a Grade II Listed Building, one of the reminders of Manchester’s architectural and social history.

A map showing the street layout of 19th Century Manchester and location of the Britons Protection (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

And yet, a Planning Application has been submitted that would sandwich the pub between two skinny glass towers if approved by Manchester City Council. You can see the sheer scale of the development in contrast to the pub building in the image below.

Artists impression of the Apex Tower development. Source: Manchester Planning Portal

So far, over 211 objections have been sent via the Council’s online planning portal, and the development will soon come before the planning committee. Chair of the Peterloo Memorial Campaign, Paul Fitzgerald, said:

“We urge the council planning committee to do the right thing. The placing of such an overwhelmingly tall, incongruous tower jammed right up against this deeply historic pub would be a gross insult to our democratic heritage. It, and the second tall building proposed for the other side, will turn the cherished beer garden into a grim, dark workhouse exercise yard, with some picnic tables in it, threatening the financial future of one of Manchester’s best loved and most significant pubs. 

“This ridiculous development has already been nicknamed ‘Flat Stanley’, and is the subject of widespread derision and outrage. If it goes ahead, it’ll become a laughing stock, symbolizing overseas investment in the city arrogantly trampling on our local history.

“We invite everyone who opposes this absurd plan to join us for the annual Peterloo commemoration, and then the demonstration at the site, where they can make their feelings known. Let’s show the spirits of those who died at Peterloo that we still care about – and will act to protect – their memory.”

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Feature Image: Wikimedia Commons

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  • Katy Preen

    Katy is the Production Team member for Ethics, Governance and Compliance, and is a member of the Trans Journalists Association. They like to report on politics, environment and data stories. Katy has lived in Manchester since 2001.

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