Peterloo: drama, poetry, music and songs

Still proud of their role in playing music at the St. Peter’s Field demonstration there are accounts of the  Stalybridge Old Band’  experience on the day of the Massacre on.

http://www.stalybridgeoldband.org/page2.htm

http://www.ibew.org.uk/misc59.htm

The aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre led to many pieces of poetry and songs, as commemorative ceramics. The most famous is Shelley’s The Masque of Anarchy. This has inspired Kirsty Martin’s Rise Like Lions

https://naturalvoice.net/songs/rise-like-lions

Although not written until after the events of the day the episode featuring the Massacre in the Lancashire Cotton Pageant in 1932 featured a man reading from the poem from the platform.  http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1111

Peterloo has continued to inspire cultural production and will be a key part in the activities in Manchester this year. Alison Morgan’s book Ballads and songs of Peterloo being published in May will provide a rich source for those who wish to play them.

Matthew Arnold’s Peterloo Overture

In the lead-up to the 150th Anniversary Matthew Arnold composed Peterloo Overture for orchestra in 1967. In 2009 it was arranged for choir and orchestra by Ben Parry, and first performed on 13 September 2014 on the Last Night of the Proms. Sir Tim Rice wrote the programme notes: ‘When honoured with an invitation to write some words to Sir Malcolm Arnold’s beautiful and moving Peterloo, I turned to Shelley’s ‘The Masque of Anarchy’ as an inspiration. …. Not surprisingly, the poem was supressed and was not published in Britain until 1832, ten years after Shelley’s death.’ Rice goes on to mention the massacre of  the entire 150 Jewish community in York in 1190 , and the mass slaughter at Passchendaele in 1917. ‘Sir Malcolm’s wonderful music superbly portrays the conflict between patriotism and liberty and the hope and failure of ideals, so often destroyed by wilful incomprehension of the unfamiliar.’

http://www.fabermusic.com/repertoire/peterloo-choral-version

The music has also been transcribed for brass bands.

In July 2010 the Lancashire Youth Symphony Orchestra performed The Peterloo Overture at the Music for Youth Festival in Birmingham.

The Oldham Tinkers

North West musicians Pete Coe, Brian Peters and Laura Smyth  have been working on a music project The Road to Peterloo to bring the importance of this event into the public eye.

https://www.petecoe.co.uk/2018/08/30/the-road-to-peterloo

Their Facebook page contains the beginnings of 2019 events at which they will be playing.

https://www.facebook.com/roadtopeterloo

Peterloo. Track on the Oldham Tinkers CD. The words are at:

http://www.oldhamtinkers.com/peterloo.html

The group will be supporting a talk by Alison Morgan on 2 August in Stockport.

Recordings of pieces about Peterloo

waterloopeterloofront

Waterloo:Peterloo 1968 (Argo ZFB 68) featuring Frankie Armstrong, John Faulkner, Brian Pearson, Denis Turner and Terry Yarnell with Sandra Kerr, Jim O’Connor and Peggy Seeger

Peterloo Massacre by the Manchester based group Peterloo Massacre https://www.facebook.com/peterloomassacre

Peterloo. Edward Genereux’s parody of ABBA’s Waterloo can be seen at:

http://www.amiright.com/parody/70s/abba216.shtml

Peterloo Massacre lyrics are on Raymond’s Folk Song Page website:

http://www.raymondfolk.com/page/Peterloo+Massacre

Peterloo. Track on Edward II’s album, Manchester’s Improving Daily (of Manchester Ballads

http://edwardthesecond.co.uk/store/#!/Manchesters-Improving-Daily-16-track-CD-and-book/p/60238179/category=0

http://edwardthesecond.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/EDII_book_FINProof1.pdf

St Peter’s Field on Disc 2 of Anticapitalist Roadshow CD

http://www.redmagic.co.uk/anticap/index_files/cd.htm

In 2016 Matt Hill (Quiet Loner) discussed ‘Writing a song about Peterloo has proved difficult.’

https://museumsongwriter.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/writing-about-peterloo

John Peel and Peterloo

tractor-townhead1

The Tractor CD (OZITCD118; August, 2011) features tracks from various artists including Tractor, Geoff Higginbottom, Mark Dowding and Chris Harvey and the Oldham Tinkers.

‘In 1973, John Peel paid for Tractor to go into the studio and start recording various songs about the Peterloo Massacre, something close to John’s heart as he had worked in a cotton mill in Rochdale before becoming a DJ.

Another one of John Peel’s favourites was the Peterloo song performed by The Oldham Tinkers. Jump forward to 2003 and John Peel and Chris Hewitt start working on finishing the Peterloo project started in 1973 expanding it to become a Various Artists CD.

Sadly, John Peel died before the project is finished, but Chris Hewitt continued to put the project together.’

http://www.spaceritual.net/tractor/peterloo.htm

Other cultural activities

It is inevitable that over the decades the emphasis on remembering Peterloo has been based in Manchester.

In 1994, for example, Mike Harris was commissioned to write a play for the City’s Drama Programme. He researched the events at the Working Class Movement Library. In September the play The Peterloo Massacre was performed by volunteers. The audience found themselves being ushered here and there about the auditorium which became the stage. The period of the play was extended to cover the exciting years of 1817-1820, not just the episode of the Peterloo Massacre. At one moment they became a crowd of hungry hand-loom weavers and at another, part of the admiring throng watching Queen Caroline set out on the coronation journey.

This was a history re-lived, performed in modern (or almost!) dress which allowed the similarity between many of the episodes of that period to become recognisable as part of our own experience. ‘ (Edmund and Ruth Frow. The Peterloo Massacre: A Community Play. Working Class Movement Library Bulletin No.5. 1995. pps. 72-3)

29 October 2008. The Black Sheep paid homage to the Peterloo martyrs by singing protest songs on the site of the massacre.

http://www.onthisdeity.com/16th-august-1819-%E2%80%93-the-peterloo-massacre

  1. The Red Saunders’ Hidden Project sought to re-create the Peterloo Massacre in photo tableaus. Fundraising events were held.

http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=4730

November 2018. Red Flag Walks featured events commemorating Peterloo up to 2017.

https://redflagwalks.wordpress.com/tag/peterloo-masscare

 

About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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