Gallery Oldham need some help to locate a missing banner from the Peterloo massacre.
They are asking everyone to dig around their attics, rummage through their cupboards and check their sheds and join the hunt for this precious Peterloo artefact.
This year marks 200 years since people from all over Greater Manchester and Lancashire marched into Manchester to protest for the right to vote. Over 60,000 men, women and children walked to St. Peter’s Field to listen to Henry Hunt speak about parliamentary reform.
Each group brought with them a banner, lovingly handmade from any spare cloth or silk that they could find.
The banners were painted with slogans and would have made an eye-catching display as they were held up high and accompanied by bands of music.
These banners were a symbol of pride amongst the different neighbouring towns and villages. They also helped people to know who to follow after the meeting to prevent getting lost.
The banners acted like colourful umbrellas often used by tour guides today.
Currently there is only one known surviving banner from the Peterloo Massacre, which is on display at Touchstones Rochdale.
Many banners were destroyed by the authorities during the Massacre as they were seen as symbols of protest. Accounts tell of the soldiers targeting the people carrying banners shouting, “Have at their flags!” as banners were viewed as trophies by the cavalry.
Intriguingly, in his 1921 book ‘Three Accounts of Peterloo’, Francis Bruton wrote that there was another surviving banner – one from Chadderton.
This banner had been displayed in the old school at Healds Green for many years, but its owner then moved to Blackpool and its whereabouts became unknown.
As part of the Peterloo Bicentenary, Gallery Oldham want to track this banner down.
So, do you have a relative who moved to Blackpool in the early 1920s? Or have any family ties to the Peterloo Massacre? If you do and you think you might know where the missing banner is make sure you get in touch with the Gallery.
The Chadderton flag was made of green and white silk.
It’s about 3.5m long by 2.5m wide and it bore the words “Chadderton Political Union, United we stand, Divided we fall, No Corn Laws, Universal Suffrage, Vote by Ballot and Labour the Source of wealth”. On the reverse side was a pair of clasped hands.
Sean Baggaley, Senior Curator at Gallery Oldham, said “The banner may be nothing much to look at after 200 years. It might be faded, rolled up and perhaps even torn and moth eaten. But it has irreplaceable historic importance.
To find this banner would be absolutely amazing and we really hope to track down its whereabouts.”
Oldham Council Leader, Sean Fielding, said “This banner symbolises the bravery of local people who protested for democracy 200 years ago.
“The banner seems to have vanished from history, but I would urge people in Oldham, Blackpool and across the North West to get searching in the hope that we can locate this fascinating piece of history.”
If you think you’ve found the banner, get in touch with Gallery Oldham by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0161 770 4742.