This year marks 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre when over 60,000 people peacefully congregated in St Peter’s Field, Manchester demanding the right to vote, freedom from oppression, and justice.

People from Royton, Chadderton, Failsworth, Saddleworth and Lees, and Oldham travelled to Manchester on 16 August 1819 – it was said that the Oldham contingent was the largest of any group in attendance.

Tandle Hill Country Park provided a great location for the people of Royton to practise their marching and drilling before the event and so remains a significant location with regards to the Peterloo Massacre.

Magistrates wanted to stop the meeting from going ahead and already had an arrest warrant for one of the speakers, Henry “Orator” Hunt. When they watched the people gather on the day, despite it being a peaceful protest, The Riot Act was read out: however, the large crowd failed to hear it. It was at this point that armed cavalry were sent in to disperse, violently, the unknowing and peaceful protesters.

As a result, 18 people were killed and almost 700 were injured. From then on the day became widely known as the Peterloo Massacre. Oldham and its districts suffered both casualties and deaths at the meeting.

To commemorate the anniversary, events are taking place across the borough, as well as Manchester-wide.

For a list of events happening outside the borough, visit www.peterloo1819.co.uk

Oldham-based events:

‘From Waterloo to Peterloo’ exhibition

Saturday 25 May – Saturday 21 September 2019

Gallery Oldham

This exhibition explores what life was like in 1819 using the collections of Gallery Oldham, Oldham Local Studies and Archives and a selection of images from the new graphic novel about Peterloo. 

Peterloo 1819–1920: A Talk by Dr Robert Poole

Wednesday 3 July 2019, 7pm, free

Oldham Library

A timely illustrated lecture on the Peterloo Massacre, with the emphasis on new findings and on connections with the local area. Dr Robert Poole is a Professor of History at the University of Central Lancashire. He has authored ‘Peterloo: the English Uprising’ and has co-authored the graphic novel ‘Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre’.

Book tickets for Peterloo 1819–1920: A Talk by Dr Robert Poole

The Songs and Ballads of Peterloo with Dr Alison Morgan

Wednesday 24 July 2019, 1pm, free

Gallery Oldham

This talk takes place in the 'From Waterloo to Peterloo' exhibition.

No booking required.

Tour of the ‘From Waterloo to Peterloo’ exhibition with the Curator

Wednesday 14 August 2019, 1pm, free

Gallery Oldham

Explore the stories of Oldhamers at Peterloo.

No booking required.

Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre – author talk

Wednesday 14 August 2019, 6pm, £5

Oldham Library

Dr Jacqueline Riding – former curator of the Palace of Westminster, Director of the Handel House museum, author and historical film advisor – specialises in 18th century history and art and has authored ‘Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre’. To commemorate the anniversary of Peterloo, Jacqueline will be in conversation with Amy Concannon – Curator at Tate Britain, responsible for art from the period 1790–1850. 

This special event will be followed by a free screening of Mike Leigh’s film ‘Peterloo’ which Dr Jacqueline Riding was involved with as historical adviser.

Book tickets for Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre

Film screening of ‘Peterloo’

Wednesday 14 August 2019, 7.15pm, free

Oldham Library

From acclaimed Director, Mike Leigh, ‘Peterloo’ is an epic portrayal of the events surrounding the infamous Peterloo Massacre.

Before the screening, historical advisor to the film, Dr Jacqueline Riding will be in conversation with Amy Concannon, Curator at Tate Britain.

Book tickets for film screening of ‘Peterloo’

Peterloo Picnic in the Park

Sunday 18 August, 12noon–3pm, free

Tandle Hill Country Park

Join us in the park with your picnics and commemorate Peterloo. There will be lots of family-friendly activities to take part in, including:

  • Book signing with Graham Phythian author of ‘Peterloo: Voices, Sabres and Silence’.
  • Poetry with Dr Robert Poole
  • Trail and quiz with Royton Historical Society
  • Crafts and games with Oldham Play Action Group

The event will also be supported by the Royton Townswomen’s Guild, Music for Young People and Oldham Amateur Radio.

Peterloo – The Aftermath by Sheila Goodyear

Wednesday 18 September 2019, 7pm, free

Oldham Local Studies and Archives

The Peterloo Massacre is a defining moment in British history. But how was it viewed at the time? Sheila Goodyear explores the aftermath of Peterloo and how the massacre influenced the path of reform for decades to come.

No booking required.

Final tour of the ‘From Waterloo to Peterloo’ exhibition with the Curator

Saturday 21 September 2019, 1pm, free

Gallery Oldham

A last chance to explore the ‘From Waterloo to Peterloo’ exhibition with our social history curator.

No booking required.

Peterloo – The Aftermath by Sheila Goodyear

Monday 30 September 2019, 7pm, free

Oldham Library

The Peterloo Massacre is a defining moment in British history. But how was it viewed at the time? Sheila Goodyear explores the aftermath of Peterloo and how the massacre influenced the path of reform for decades to come.

Book tickets for Peterloo – The Aftermath by Sheila Goodyear

Activism in the Archives

Tuesday 1 October 2019, 2pm, free

Oldham Local Studies and Archives

Oldham has a long history of activism stretching back to the early 19th century. In this workshop Caroline Knight delves into Oldham’s archives to bring to light the stories of Oldham’s activists. See the original documents telling the story of Oldham activists’ contribution to history.

Book tickets for Activism in the Archives