Ski Club visit to the Peterloo Massacre Sites, 5th November 2017

Reporter: Brenda Smith

When I joined the Club many years ago I thought I had signed up to join a like minded group who were keen to ski. I have been totally misled.

THE GROUP HAS LEADERS (AKA) The Committee who do not like standing still. We have to go on a long arduous and some less, walks. We are expected to play golf. Go to parties and even garden parties. And last but not least a walk around Manchester on a bright but not hot Sunday to discover all about the history of the City and to be educated.

This year our walk was to learn about the Peterloo Massacre. We assembled promptly at 10.15.

Twenty nine or so intrepid explorers and one very well behaved small dog outside the Central Library and beside the cross which is the only remains of the church that stood on the site and gave its name to the fields surrounding it where the assembly was to take place, to be greeted by our enthusiastic guide for the morning, Ed.

He certainly knew his stuff and took us all around the area explaining what went on where.

To our amazement, we entered the lobby of the Midland Hotel which stands on the site of the assembly. I don’t really think the well healed clientele had ever seen anything like our group and certainly not in the middle of their posh hotel.

Off out of the back door to find where the demonstrators set up the hustings for the speakers to address the gathering of about 60,000 people who had all walked, from far and wide to attend the meeting, clad in their Sunday best. A more peaceful and respectful ‘mob’ as you would wish to meet.

We were then alarmed as we could hear what seemed like a group of horses. Where are the Hussar’s coming to cut us down in our prime? No, it was hundreds of little girls dressed in pink sparkles rushing to be first in line for Britain’s got talent auditions. On we go. This time after a few important stops we entered the Radisson Blue hotel. More nonplussed guests, though no one stayed to find out why we were there.

The pub on the right is where the militia waited to be summoned into action.

We also saw the prison, now defunct, where the rioters were taken after they had been arrested. The pub and the prison are the only places that are where they were on that fateful day. The prison has been bought by Ryan Giggs and friends and will be turned into something profitable! Our guide knew everything.

Onwards and upwards to the Rylands Library. To our shame I don’t think that any of us has ever visited.

One of the last places to be visited was an area alongside the Central Library where a memorial pavement had been laid to remember the people who died on that day.

Then well informed but in need of refreshment we followed Alan Brown phone in hand, who claimed he could lead us to Gostos where we were to have lunch. To be fair he did get us there but missed the entrance when it was directly in front of him.

After a filling lunch all that was left for us was to find our way home using trams trains and cars. Not for us the toil of walking home as was the case for the poor people who assembled in St Peter’s fields that day.

Thanks to Barry and Jonquil for arranging our visit, we will wait with great anticipation to see what part of Manchester we will be exploring next year.