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"Peterloo director calls for 1819 massacre to be taught " Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2018 12:24 p.m. PST

….in UK schools

"All schoolchildren in the UK should be taught about the Peterloo massacre, according to Mike Leigh, who has directed a film about the little-known Manchester atrocity sometimes referred to as Britain's Tiananmen Square.

Leigh grew up in Salford, a short walk from St Peter's Field, where on 16 August 1819 government forces charged into a peaceful rally by more than 60,000 people who were demanding political reform and protesting against poverty.

Cavalry troops slashed at the crowd with sabres, and an estimated 18 protesters were killed and more than 650 injured, making it the bloodiest political clash in British history…."
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bruntonboy16 Aug 2018 12:30 p.m. PST

Yep completely agree. We focus too much on Kings and Queens and learn nothing of our peoples real lives and struggles in the past.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2018 1:58 p.m. PST

Funnily enough, I did learn about it at school!

A classic case of it all going pete tong. The local officials panicked and sent for the local yeomanry. Being amateurs, the yeomanry panicked and laid into the crowd with their swords. Total cockup. And so unnecessary.

UpperCanada16 Aug 2018 2:58 p.m. PST

Read your E.P Thompson, boys…

Artilleryman16 Aug 2018 3:01 p.m. PST

Indeed it was a big event in the history I did at school. I seem to remember we did more about Peterloo than Waterloo. I think a film is a good idea and Mike Leigh is a good director. However, you have to wonder how balanced it is going to be. As Cerdic says, it was a mess up, not a conspiracy.

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2018 3:08 p.m. PST

@Cerdic "A classic case of it all going pete tong"; please illuminate the uniformed.

I am particularly interested in the pete tong re English relatives with this surname.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2018 4:47 p.m. PST

Pete tong – wrong.

Rhyming slang, innit!

bsrlee16 Aug 2018 4:49 p.m. PST

We even had this in our History lessons in Australia in the 1960's.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2018 8:14 p.m. PST

Yep, I studied it in the 60's as part of the whole Leaders of the Agricultural and Industrial Revolution's" theme that was big in the secondary school history curriculum at that time.

As Cerdic says, it was a complete cockup.

And it was later used in the Suffrage movement as an example of why "the people" needed to run things, not the Aristocracy. There's rather a decent website on the matter;


Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2018 2:09 a.m. PST

The current KS3 curriculum (children around 11-14) includes "-Britain as the first industrial nation the impact on society
-party politics, extension of the franchise and social reform"

I would be surprised if Peterloo didn't feature in that, and there are certainly resources available online which show that teachers do cover the event.

It is not specifically mentioned by name, but the curriculum only says what areas to cover, not the specific events in them.

It is a long time since British history taught mostly about kings and queens. The main exception would be the Tudors, since the individual religious leanings of the monarchs and Henry's desire for an heir affected the whole period.

Lee John Ayre17 Aug 2018 5:08 a.m. PST

It was covered as part of my History lessons in the late 1970s.

tinned fruit Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2018 5:01 p.m. PST

Learned about this in school as well as the Cato Street Conspiracy.

Green Tiger17 Aug 2018 10:09 p.m. PST

I also studied it at school.

arthur181517 Aug 2018 11:23 p.m. PST

A reproduction of a contemporary cartoon of Peterloo (by George Cruikshank, IIRC) appeared in the school history text book I was using for O-Level in 1969.

goragrad18 Aug 2018 1:30 p.m. PST

So the director of a movie wants to have it shown as part of the school curriculum – fancy that…

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Aug 2018 3:21 p.m. PST



Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP19 Aug 2018 2:31 a.m. PST

Another interview with Mike Leigh says that he spent 'five minutes' on it in his O level history. So he did study it, and I should imagine it was substantially longer than 5 minutes. He then bemoaned that even though he lived nearby, they weren't taken there. Perhaps they could have, but since the square was substantially changed even in his time, would he have learnt anything worthy of a day trip?

He perhaps needs to have looked at the actual curriculum before assuming that it is the same as it was even at the time his 20-something aged film crew learnt assuming that they can actually remember what they learnt.

The 'Manchester Histories' charity quoted by the Guardian is promoting awareness of Peterloo and has raised money from the National Lottery to do so, but I couldn't find any request for it to be on the curriculum hopefully they know it already is.

Tom D121 Sep 2018 9:24 a.m. PST

Learned about it in America as well. I'm often bemused when I hear calls for certain events to be taught in school that I learned about 50 years ago. Has the curriculum been dumbed down so much?

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