THE artist behind a mural commemorating the Peterloo Massacre unveiled at a Manchester pub says he hopes it will raise awareness of the historic event among people in the city.

Paul Fitzgerald, a full-time political cartoonist and illustrator, unveiled the artwork that covers Sir Ralph Abercromby public house on 17 November.

The mural is in memory of the 60,000 people who united together in St Peter’s Square on August, 16, 1898 for a peaceful pro-democracy and anti-poverty rally where they were confronted by a cavalry charge.

Paul said: “It has had such an impact on peoples thinking about the relationship between democracy and the state. It did bring back democracy so you can almost see it as one of the turning points of the history of world democracy, especially for Manchester.”

“Not only was it a shocking event anyway, that number of people being killed and injured.”

“When I started the campaign in 2007, the only commemoration was this little blue plaque on the side of the Free Trade Hall that was disgracefully worded.”

“It was a ridiculous euphemism,” said Paul of the original mural, which he says made it look like the crowd were fighting amongst themselves, with the soldiers were painted out to be the saviours.

Paul said: “The memory has been whitewashed and suppressed for two hundred years. It was a really big event, it changed UK and world politics, people came away feeling really defeated by it.”

Paul is also the chair and founding member of the Peterloo Memorial Campaign and hopes the mural will help the people of Manchester to understand what happened in their city and remember the 18 deaths and several hundred who were injured.

Paul and Mike with the mural. (photographs from Paul Fitzgerald)

The Abercromby pub that bears the new mural was saved in 2014 from demolition by Landlord Mike Christodoulou and it is one of the few buildings remaining in St Peter’s Field from the time of Peterloo. When Paul and Mike met they both wanted to create a mural in remembrance.

Every annual commemoration, which Paul helps to run, features high-profile readers who list the names of the those who died. Mike Christodoulou was chosen as a local hero to read one of the names.

Paul, who goes by the pen name Polyp, now hopes to make Manchester aware of what happened nearly 200 years ago in St Peter’s Square through the new mural, which is also centre piece of graphic novel Peterloo Witnesses To A Massacre by Polyp, Poole & Schlunke.

You can find more information at the Petrloo.org and Peterloo Massacre websites.

One Comment

  1. Although Peterloo changed the face of British and global politics, and was a massive landmark in the fight for the vote, at the time people felt defeated by what happened. After the massacre the government bought in even more draconian laws to try and suppress the movement… but in the end, nothing could stop it.

    It’s staggering that such a world changing event, one that took place here in our city centre (right next to G-Mex / Manchester Central) has been ignored for so long, but that now, hopefully, seems to be changing…

    The old, misleading mural referred to in the article can be seen here-

    http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/50ccf23dc2bd423f86274e5b91f4151d/mrh-sherwood-edwards-working-on-a-section-of-his-peterloo-mural-which-b5e405.jpg

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