Blue plaque honour for Mossley’s Peterloo hero

A POLITICAL activist from Mossley who was a key speaker at the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 is to be honoured in his home-town with a prestigious blue plaque.

Inscription for John Knight’s blue plaque

Mossley Town Council has granted £532 towards the cost of the plaque in honour of John Knight after being approached by Mossley Blue Plaque Committee.

Shirley Howard, committee member, and researcher John Fletcher explained to the council the plaque will be placed on the house where Knight was born in Quickwood, Roughtown.

Knight, born in 1762, was a leading member of the Chartist movement and a campaigner for workers’ rights.

He was among a group from Mossley and Saddleworth who marched to St Peter’s Field on August 16, 1819 as tens of thousands gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.

Thousands were killed and injured after the cavalry charged on the unarmed crowd in an attack which later became known as the Peterloo Massacre.

Knight was arrested and released for his role in the event, but later spent two years in prison for continuing to pursue his reformist ideals.

A schoolmaster in Oldham, he married Elizabeth Andrew and they had six children. He died aged 75 in 1838 and 2,500 followed his coffin from Oldham to St George’s Mossley.

Now, the blue plaque is to be installed in Knight’s honour after Mossley Town Council councillors voted to support the project in principle, subject to a formal application being submitted to the next Town Council meeting on April 10.

Peterloo Exhibition

The plaque will be unveiled on August 16, which is the 200th anniversary of Peterloo.

Other sites and people in Mossley honoured with a blue plaque include Victoria Cross recipient Ernest Sykes and Mossley Band Club.

Town councillors also voted to support other community projects by donating grants. They included:

• £5,000 for Mossley Park Skatepark Project, subject to a formal application being submitted, towards the park’s redevelopment

• £500 for Mossley Town Team to assist with planting in top and bottom Mossley

• £300 for Mossley Methodist Church towards the cost of organising and running a holiday club during the Easter Holiday period.

Peterloo is the subject of a headline exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester which opened on March 23 and will run until February 23, 2020.

Entitled ‘Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest’, the exhibition will feature original artefacts from the massacre displayed together for the first time.

The exhibition is part of PHM’s year-long programme exploring the past, present and future of protest.

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