The most radical street in Manchester? exhibition on now at the People’s History Museum

20 July-22 September 2019

Go take a look on the 2nd floor at my exhibition on sites of protest and political meeting in Manchester and Salford

Maps available on this page: http://historyofpublicspace.uk/exhibition/

exhibition poster

Part of the #Peterloo2019 commemorations

With contributions by Amanda Rogers, Community Project Officer, Manchester Communication Academy, Harpurhey

Graphic Design by Gray Associates, www.gray-associates.co.uk

Funded by the British Academy and the University of Hertfordshire

Opening event and talk: Saturday 20 July

Drop-in session and fun with maps: Saturday 10 August

Radical roams: Saturday 21 September

For more details see https://phm.org.uk/exhibitions/the-most-radical-street-in-manchester/

Let us know about your radical streets – give us your stories in the guestbook, or feedback at: www.historyofpublicspace.uk/feedback/

Images in the exhibition used with permission from: John Rylands University of Manchester; Working Class Movement Library, Salford; Manchester Archives and Local Studies; Once Upon a Time, Manchester Communication Academy; The National Archives, Kew. Thanks especially to Janette Martin of JRLUM.

me at the exhibition
Thanks to Harriet of the Peterloo Memorial Campaign for taking this photo

Where did people hold political meetings in Manchester and Salford?

The main sites of protest and political meetings in the 19th century included Stevenson’s Square, St Peter’s Field, St George’s Fields (off Oldham Road), and Granby Row Fields (now by the universities). The Chartists held ‘monster’ meetings on Kersal Moor, Salford. The local authorities held civic and anti-democracy events on St Ann’s Square and Ardwick Green.

Democratic societies before and after the 1819 Peterloo Massacre hired meeting rooms in George Leigh Street, Ancoats, and Bibby’s mill, New Islington. Later the Chartists and Socialists had their own buildings, including the Hall of Science off Deansgate (now near where the Museum of Science and Industry is) and Carpenters’ Hall (near the Medlock).

In the later 19th century and 20th century, trade union and female suffrage demonstrations were usually held on Albert Square and Platt Fields.

Who were the Chartists?

The Chartists came after the Peterloo radicals. They were the biggest movement campaigning for the vote for working-class men in 19th century Britain. Working people of all genders and ages were involved. They presented three massive petitions to parliament (a ‘People’s Charter’) in 1839, 1842 and 1848, demanding democracy and reform of the representative system. Though the petitions were rejected, the movement laid the basis for the modern parliamentary democracy today.

Two leading Manchester Chartists lived at number 69 Cropper Street: Daniel and his brother Maurice Donovan. They were delegates to the Chartist National Convention in 1842 and 1848. Daniel was president of the powerloom weavers’ union, who led the ‘plug’ strikes in 1842. He was arrested in 1848 for leading the Manchester branch of the Irish Confederates, who fought to repeal the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. 

Why Cropper Street?

Cropper Street and Back Cropper Street were built off Oldham Road in Collyhurst in the first decade of the 19th century. Cropper Street later became known as Osborne Street. It was in the Irish Catholic area.

The two streets remained isolated from the other streets, separated by St George’s Fields, even in the 1840s. The terraces were cut across by two railway lines. Generations of radicals and trade unionists lived on these streets – do you live there now? Let us know!

Who lived on the street?

No 17

Edward Williams(on)

Batter, signed the 16 August 1819 petition,

Cut with a sabre at Peterloo

No 36

James Cowscroft, aged 23, weaver, 1817 Blanketeer

Signed the 6 August 1819 petition

No 63

Henry Bickerstaff, signed the 6 August 1819 petition

Ann Bickerstaff, age 22, ‘thrown down and trampled on and so much exhausted as to be carried off the field for dead’ at Peterloo

No 65

John Pendleton, aged 24, weaver, 1817 Blanketeer

Elizabeth Pendleton, subscribed to Chartist National Rent in 1839

No 67

John and Edward Philips, aged 24 and 19, weavers, 1817 Blanketeers

Sons of Edward Philips, arrested in 1812 for taking part in a reform meeting

No 69

Daniel and Maurice Donovan, delegates to the Chartist National Convention 1842 and 1848, president and secretary of the powerloom weavers’ union during the 1842 Plug strikes. Daniel was arrested in 1848 as leader of the Irish Confederates.

What was the Round House Chapel?

The Round House chapel on Every Street, off Great Ancoats Street, was built by Reverend Dr James Scholefield (1790-1855). He was a Peterloo veteran, preacher and doctor, and follower of William Cowherd, ‘the founder of vegetarianism’. The chapel opened on the anniversary of Peterloo in 1823. The Working Class Political Union held their meetings here during the 1831 Reform Bill agitation. Trade union and Chartist meetings were held here, as well as a radical Sunday School. A public meeting about the Tolpuddle Martyrs took place there in 1834. 

The Chartists erected a monument to Henry Hunt in the burial ground in 1842. It was unveiled by Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor on the anniversary of Peterloo. Hunt’s monument only survived a few decades before it fell down.

From 1897 to 1963, the old chapel was used by Manchester University for their Settlement, where students lived and volunteered among the working classes. The Round House was demolished in 1986. The foundations and gravestones still exist – go and see them!