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Hundreds attend Peterloo commemoration and monument unveiling

HUNDREDS gathered in Manchester on Friday for the unveiling of the Peterloo monument to mark the 200th anniversary of the massacre.

More than 500 people assembled to commemorate the events of August 16, 1819, when 18 protesters demanding the vote were killed by the yeomanry.

At 1.30pm — the exact time that Manchester’s magistrates ordered the yeomanry to attack — the names of the Peterloo dead were read out, and eighteen plumes of red smoke were released, one for each victim.

The monument, designed by the award-winning architect Jeremy Deller, resembles a speaker’s podium, featuring 11 concentric steps that display the names of the marchers, as well as the towns or villages they marched from.

It also includes arrows pointing in the direction of other massacres in history, such as the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in South Africa and Bloody Sunday in 1972.

“It was a high point in 1819 of people being able to express what they wanted and what they needed from society,” said Sheila Lemoine-Abrams whose radical activist great-great-grandfather, John Barnish, was at Peterloo.

Other commemorations took place in the day, such as an unveiling of a blue plaque in Mossley Town to the Peterloo participant John Knight.

Mr Knight, whose plaque labelled him “A Thorn in the Side of the Establishment,” was a renowned orator and radical reformer.

Events also took place to commemorate local rally participants in the Greater Manchester areas of Stalybridge, Droylsden and Ashton.

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