Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Sunday, 16 August 2009 10:16 UK

Events to mark Peterloo Massacre

Artist's impression of the Peterloo massacre
Up to 15 people were killed when peaceful protesters were attacked

A series of events marking the 190th anniversary of a bloody chapter in Manchester's history, the Peterloo Massacre, are taking place.

Up to 15 people were killed and 700 injured when militia attacked pro-democracy campaigners at St Peter's Fields on 16 August 1819.

Campaigners were marching into the city on Sunday to meet outside Manchester Central to honour those who died.

Music, poetry readings and exhibitions are also taking place in the city.

In 2007, campaigners won their battle for a plaque marking the fact people lost their lives.

A previous blue plaque made no mention of casualties.

With the council's announcement of plans for a memorial in St Peter's Square, this is a crucial year for Peterloo
Paul Fitzgerald, Peterloo Memorial Campaign

Plans are currently under way for a permanent memorial in the city as part of the redevelopment of St Peter's Square.

Paul Fitzgerald, of the Peterloo Memorial Campaign, said there was an "underground reservoir of passion" about the "much-neglected event in Manchester's history".

"With the council's announcement of plans for a memorial in St Peter's Square, this is a crucial year for Peterloo," he said.

"As we near the 200th anniversary, it's vital we put an end to the long and shameful tradition of neglecting or whitewashing the memory of this turning point in the history of democracy."

Anyone with an interest in the history of the event is invited to take part in the commemorations.

Artist's impression of the Peterloo massacre
The Peterloo Massacre is an infamous chapter in Manchester's history

Campaigners were marching from Oldham and Middleton on Sunday, following the original marching routes of 1819, before raising 20 liberty caps on wooden poles.

The red and gold liberty cap is an ancient symbol of political freedom and was targeted by the cavalry during the Peterloo Massacre.

Councillor Jim Battle, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council was among those taking part in the event.

He said: "Manchester has a proud history of fighting for democracy, freedom and justice and is a legacy we will continue to commemorate and honour, ensuring future generations learn about the city's radical past."

A crowd of at least 60,000 campaigners gathered peacefully on St Peter's Fields in 1819 to demand the reform of Parliamentary representation.

But local militia on horseback charged the protesters and cut them down with sabres.

The exact number of people killed has been a matter of historical debate, but experts say the number is about 15, with between 400 and 700 people injured.

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