Mossley honours those who fought for our rights at Peterloo

MOSSLEY honoured those who fought for justice and equality over the weekend when the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre was commemorated.

Blue plaques were unveiled at the birthplace of John Knight and at The School House where Mossley Chartists, inspired by Peterloo, fought for universal male suffrage.

A couple of dozen hardy history lovers braved torrential rain for the unveilings which began at Quickwood Cottage on Roughtown Road, Knight’s birthplace.

John Fletcher researched Knight who spent his life fighting for equal rights and better worker conditions.

He gave a short talk about Knight’s life and a broadcast from his musical ‘Threads’.

Knight had been on the platform at Peter’s Field with Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt.

The plaque read: ‘John Knight: Thorn in the side of the Establishment 1763-1838’.It went on: “Born at Quickwood, Roughtown, and laid to rest at St George’s Parish Church, Mossley, Knight was a local and national hero who worked tirelessly, with significant periods of loss of his personal freedom, to lead the fight for workers’ rights and is the cause of universal suffrage.

“He was one of the leading organisers of the public meeting at St Peter’s Field, Manchester, on 16th August, 1819 which ended in the tragedy known as ‘Peterloo’.”

The group then proceeded on foot to the School House on Carrhill Road for the second unveiling.

Shirley Howard, a local historian and researcher, gave a short speech on the front step of the former school.

This plaque had the following inscription: “The School House. Local Chartists met here on 14th August, 1848 to progress their aims of having in place a legal ‘People’s Charter’ to ensure universal male suffrage.

“Their campaign which involved strikes, riots and sabotage eventually succeeded in 1918 after a series of reforms over the years.”The group stopped briefly at the George Lawton Hall to view a mural created by students from Mossley Hollins High School to commemorate the Chartist movement in the town.

The final destination was St George’s Church where a wreath was laid at Knight’s grave by Cllr Frank Travis, chair of Mossley Town Council, with a blessing made by Father David Warner.

And the group also had the chance to view in church the impressive Peterloo exhibition which featured a large array of banners made by community groups to mark the 200th anniversary and also the battle for universal suffrage.

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