There is no ‘bucket list’ - Lynne and I are both well, thank you – but we have arrived at a point in our lives where we have the time, the money and the good health to indulge in a passion for travel. We know how lucky and privileged we are to be able to do this, and we know it won’t last for ever, but while it does…..

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Lichfield: City of Philosophers

When a sunny September Saturday follows the worst August I can remember, why not visit somewhere? And where better to go on my sunny September birthday than Lichfield? As the city’s favourite son, Samuel Johnson said: ‘I lately took my friend Boswell and showed him genuine civilised life in an English provincial town. I turned him loose at Lichfield.’

Leaving the car in the Friary Car Park we walked passed the site of the former Friary. ‘That’s a big entrance to a small park,’ Lynne remarked as we failed to notice the slabs in the grass marking the locations of the cloister and nave. Founded by the Franciscans in 1237, ruined by Henry VIII in 1538 and razed for the sake of the motor car in 1928, the minimal remains were ignored by us in 2017.
Reaching the centre of the old city we continued down Bore Street, where Georgian buildings are considered ‘recent’, and paused for a cappuccino and a slice of Bakewell tart.

Bore Street, Lichfield
We turned left to the Market Place, where the market was in full swing.
Lichfield Market
Samuel Johnson called Lichfield a city of philosophers, but its 1,300-year history has inevitably involved darker moments. In this square in 1612, Edward Wightman had the dubious distinction of being the last person in England to be burnt at the stake for heresy. Johnson, born 100 years later in the Age of Enlightenment, overlooks the market with an air of serious concentration – or perhaps depression.
Samuel Johnson looks down on Lichfield Market
Samuel Johnson was born on 18th of September 1709 in the five-storey house opposite the market. The house, now owned by Lichfield City Council, is the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum.

Samuel Johnson's house, Lichfield
Despite their large house (though the rooms are small) the Johnson’s were what Theresa May might call ‘just about managing.’ Family life was centred on the basement kitchen, though whether there was always a zombie by the fire contemplating an apple is open to conjecture.

The Johnson's kitchen
Michael Johnson, Samuel’s father, was a bookseller and his office was on the ground floor.

Michael Johnson's office

Samuel was born in a room on the first floor.

The room where Samuel Johnson was born, Lichfield

Like many of our PM’s ‘just about managing,’ the Johnson’s weren’t and the birth of a second child plunged them into debt. Samuel, however, managed to attend Lichfield Grammar School and proved an exceptionally able student. After school he worked for his father until in 1728 his aunt died and left enough money to send him to university. He spent just over a year at Oxford, again proving himself able, but the money would not cover his expenses and he had to leave.

He tried teaching, but getting a job without a degree was tricky, and when he succeeded his strange tics and gesticulations (posthumously diagnosed as Tourette’s Syndrome) did not help.
Johnson's London
Johnson and Garrick exhibition, Johnson's House, Lichfield

In September 1734, his friend Harry Porter (so nearly a wizard!) died. In July 1735 he married Porter’s widow Elizabeth. He was 25, she was 46 and had three children, but fortunately she also had money. Johnson set himself upon in his own school, but it only attracted three students and quickly failed. One of those students was the 18 year-old David Garrick.
David Garrick by Johan Zoffany
(Zoffany seems to follow us around from India to Hemmingford Grey in Cambridgeshire)
Johnson and Garrick became friends and in 1737 they set off for London together to make their fortune. They survived many difficulties, Johnson narrowly avoiding debtor’s prison more than once, but eventually Johnson became the leading literary figure of his generation and Garrick the leading actor.
Dr Johnson's Dictionary
Samuel Johnson's House, Lichfield
The top two floors contain an exhibition on the life and times of Johnson and Garrick.
We left Johnson’s house and the Market Square passing the statue of Johnson’s biographer James Boswell who has stood here since 1908. Johnson’s dictionary is only of historical interest, his writings, though once popular, are now rarely read, his plays little performed, and he seems best remembered by Boswell’s Life of Johnson (1791). I read the first 80 or 90 pages of Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1786) and gave, up partly because of Boswell’s convoluted prose, and partly because I could no longer stomach his hero worship; Johnson, it seemed, could not break wind without it being an act of wit and wisdom. ‘Get a life,’ we might say to Boswell today, but of course he did - Johnson’s.

James Boswell, Lichfield Market Square
We headed for Conduit Street and turned left into Dam Street, both reminders that Lichfield has enjoyed piped water since medieval times. Dam Street is pleasantly quaint, although some side streets resemble museum reconstructions - but they are real.
Off Dam Street, Lichfield
The Dam itself forms Minster Pool. The end of the Dam is known as a ‘speakers corner’ but we only saw a couple of buskers, a young violinist and cellist competing stoically against the ringing if the cathedral bells.

The Dam, Minster Pool, Lichfield
The best aspect of Minster Pool is the view across it to the Cathedral.

Lichfield Cathedral across Minster Pool
Across the road from Minster Pool is Beacon Park. Sports pitches and a golf course cover most of its 70 acres, but the Museum Gardens area has flowerbeds, seats and statues. Lichfield Parks department should feel pleased with their floral display, but their 19th century predecessors could have had a rethink about the ugly little satyr in the central fountain.
Beacon Park, Lichfield
Beyond the flowers is a statue of Edward Smith, Captain of the Titanic. It was well known that Smith was a native of Hanley (the commercial centre of Stoke-on-Trent) and Hanley council commissioned the statue but changed its mind when the Titanic sank; Lichfield had a park in need of a statue and seized the chance to acquire one at a knock-down price. It is a good story, but unfortunately untrue; the work of Lady Kathleen Scott (widow of Scott of the Antarctic), the statue was commissioned by Lichfield City Council in May 1912 as a memorial to Captain Smith and all those who died.
Captain Smith by Kathleen Scott (plus young wedding guest)
The park is adjacent to the registry office and the obvious place for wedding parties to take photographs. The former Probate Court next-door occupies the site of David Garrick’s childhood home which was demolished in 1858.

Lichfield's former Probate Court and the site of David Garrick's boyhood home
Almost opposite is the house of Erasmus Darwin. Difficult to photograph, close behind a high wall and higher trees, it is an independent museum dedicated to the remarkable career and progeny of its former owner.
Erasmus Darwin's House, Lichfield

Born 1731 in Nottinghamshire (so a generation younger than Samuel Johnson) Erasmus Darwin established a medical practice in this house in 1757, remaining here until his second marriage in 1781.

Not only an outstanding doctor – Darwin turned down an invitation from George III to become the king’s physician – he was a remarkable polymath, an inventor, scientist, social reformer and poet. The displays explore all aspects of his life with plenty of hands-on exhibits for younger visitors.
Lynne gives Erasmus Darwin some wise advice

The popularity of his poetry has not proved lasting, but his most important work, Zoönomia, a two-volume medical work dealing with pathology, anatomy and psychology contains ideas which his grandson Charles Darwin would develop more fully… ‘Would it be too bold to imagine, that in the great length of time, since the earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages before the commencement of the history of mankind, …that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament, which THE GREAT FIRST CAUSE endued with animality…’

Darwin was a member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, an informal dining club and learned society which met regularly, sometimes in his house in Lichfield, from 1765 to 1813. Being informal, there is no definitive membership list but the inner circle included Darwin, James Watt and Matthew Bolton, Joseph Priestley (the discoverer of Oxygen) and Josiah Wedgwood, while associates included the engineer James Brindley, the botanist Joseph Banks, American polymath Benjamin Franklin, astronomer William Herschel, printer and designer James Baskerville and artist Joseph Wright of Derby.
Lunar Society members and some of Erasmus' inventions
Erasmus Darwin House, Lichfield

Erasmus Darwin was also an enthusiastic procreator, fathering 5 children by his first wife, two more by the governess he employed after his wife died and a further seven by his second wife - plus alleged unacknowledged offspring.
The Darwins intermarried with the Wedgwoods for several generations. Charles Darwin, was the offspring of Erasmus’ son Robert and Josiah Wedgwood’s daughter Susannah. Charles Darwin married a cousin, so both his wife and mother were Wedgwoods.
Erasmus Darwin's consulting room
and an exhibition covering his interests in geology and plant biology
Erasmus Darwin was also the grandfather, via Frances, a daughter from his second marriage, of Francis Galton. Galton was a great scientist and mathematician, inventor of the statistical concepts of correlation and regression to the mean, the founder of meteorology and the inventor of a method of classifying fingerprints. His reputation was posthumously ruined by his interest in eugenics (a word he coined), though he would have been appalled at what was done in the name of eugenics several decades after his death.
We left Erasmus Darwin’s house via his herb garden and emerged outside the cathedral, an ancient, if rather grubby, building with three spires, a distinction it shares only with Truro among British cathedrals.
Lichfield Cathedral
The Kingdom of Mercia ruled central England (though with varying borders) from the 6th century until being absorbed by Wessex in the late 9th century. At first a pagan kingdom, King Peada accepted Christianity in 653 and in 669 Saint Chad established the episcopal see at Lichfield, some 8 miles from the Royal Capital of Tamworth. The first, wooden, church was built in 700 to house the relics of St Chad and replaced by a stone Norman Cathedral after 1085. The present structure was begun in 1195 and completed in 1330 (it was a long job).
I was impressed by the 113 statues on the façade (and no, I didn’t count them) and delighted to see one of them holding a model of the church, a sight common in orthodox churches but rare in western Europe. I was disappointed to discover that a) all but five original medieval statues were replaced in the 19th century and b) the figure below is King Henry III holding a model not of Lichfield but of Westminster Abbey.
Henry III with Westminster Abbey, Lichfield Cathedral façade
The nave was being prepared for a charity performance in the evening…
Nave, Lichfield Cathedral
…but the quire looked less purple.
Quire, Lichfield Cathedral
The Chapter House, completed in 1249, is an impressive circular building…
Chapter House, Lichfield Cathedral
…with one of Lichfield’s few remaining medieval frescoes.
Medieval fresco, Chapter House, Lichfield Cathedral
Outside the Chapter House St Chad gospels are not on display. Dating from around 730, like the similar Lindisfarne gospels, the book has 236 pages, four of them illuminated. It also has some interesting marginalia – agreements and contracts had special force if written in a Holy Book – including the earliest known (8th century) writing in old Welsh. Periodically the book is closed to give it a rest from the muted light of the cathedral, so all I have is a photo of the binding which dates from 1962!
St Chad  Gospels, Lichfield Cathedral
The shrine of St Chad is at the east end. Whether the saint’s bones are still there after 1,300 years and the destruction of the shrine by Henry VIII is a moot point.
St Chad's Shrine, Lichfield Cathedral
On the southern wall is a plaque commemorating Erasmus Darwin, though he is buried elsewhere. ‘His speculations,’ it says, ‘were mainly directed to problems which were afterwards more successfully solved by his grandson Charles Darwin, an inheritor of many of his characteristics.’ Which I think is faint praise; he was worth more than that, but at least it shows the C of E has no problem reconciling religion and evolution.
Erasmus Darwin's memorial, Lichfield Cathedral
And that ends our trip to Lichfield. From a handful of people in the seventh century to 4,000 by the time of Samuel Johnson, Lichfield now has around 30,000 inhabitants making it one of England’s smallest and least spoilt cities. Though it hides in a region which sees few tourists, it is well worth a look.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Manchester: Chinatown and the Peterloo Massacre

I should point out right at the start that the only connection between Manchester’s Chinatown and the Peterloo Massacre is geographical proximity. The 1820 massacre had nothing to do with a Chinese community that only came into being in the 20th century.

A small Chinese community existed in the 1920s, its members mostly working in laundries. Post-1945 labour shortages prompted a relaxation of immigration rules and many more were tempted to exchange warm, humid Hong Kong for cool, wet Manchester.
Chinese Pavilions by the car park
Manchester Chinatown
They settled, as their predecessors had done, in the narrow streets north east of the city centre, in a rectangle bounded on the east and west by Portland Street and Mosley Street, and on the north and south by Princess Street and Charlotte Street. Not quite 200m long by 150 wide, Manchester’s Chinatown may be tiny but is claimed to be the second biggest in the UK and the third biggest in Europe.
Decorations, Manchester Chinatown
The first Chinese restaurant opened in Mosley Street in 1948 and was followed by Chinese banks, supermarkets and many, many more restaurants.
Chinese Supermarket, Faulkner Street
Of Greater Manchester’s 2.7m people, only some 30,000 are of Chinese origin. Most do not live within Chinatown - it would be horribly overcrowded if they did - but the majority of the people you see here are Chinese, as are most of the businesses. Even those that are not happily adopt a Chinese face.
Betting shop, Manchester Chinatown
The Chinese have a reputation as enthusiastic gamblers
Wherever the Chinese go – and they go everywhere – their businesses cluster into a well-defined area. The Chinatowns of Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City are vast compared to any in Europe, but the UK has Chinatowns in Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds. With any other ethnic group it would be called a ghetto and there would be talk of ‘lack of integration’ and dark mutterings about ‘no-go areas’, but that rarely happens with the Chinese, indeed there is a degree of semi-official recognition. Manchester’s paifang (ceremonial gate) was a gift from Manchester Council to the Chinese community in 1987 to mark Manchester’s twinning with Wuhan.
Paifang, Manchester Chinatown
Although Chinese restaurants are ubiquitous in the UK, from the Sea Palace in Penzance to The Great Wall in Lerwick, the best are often in Chinatown districts. We have eaten in The Red Chilli in Portland Street before and were keen to do so again. They specialise in Sichuan and Beijing dishes - a pleasant change from Cantonese - and on Saturday lunchtime most of the clientele was reassuringly Chinese.
Pan fried pangansiun fish (better known as basa) with sliced chilli and red peppers, strips of pork with sweet and spicy sauce and tong choi with crushed garlic had the genuine flavours of China rather than the simplified technicolour version of most Anglo Chinese restaurants - and as we only drank tea the bill came to less than £30 (almost 3 times what it would have cost in China, but so what...)
The Red Chilli, Manchester
Our previous visits to Chinatown have been to the Chinese visa office in Mosley Street; the object of this trip, apart from lunch, was a walking tour of the Peterloo Massacre site.

Having, as usual, a little time to spare, we popped into the conveniently situated Manchester Art Gallery. ‘Women and Children; and Men Loitering’ (sic) is an exhibition of photographs by Shirley Baker, shot in the 1960’s and early 70s during slum clearance projects in Manchester and Salford. They provide a fascinating record of a time that feels recent to us (Lynne and I were in our teens in the 1960s) but looks long ago. They were grim monochrome photos of a grim monochrome age, we thought, lightened only by the occasional smile on a child’s face. At the end were a few colour photos; the subjects had not changed but colour made life appear cleaner and pleasanter, particularly when the sun was shining.

Shirley Baker (1932-2014) Photographer and Lecturer
Photo borrowed from the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society (Thank you)
You can see many of the photographs on their website

We also found some paintings we have not seen before and saw a few old favourites, including Julius Caesar Ibbetson’s A Distant View of Llantrisant Castle which in August 2010 inspired Manchester, Llantrisant and Beijing, the second of the 360 (and counting) posts in this blog.
At 3.00 we, and fifteen or so others, rendezvoused with. Jonathan Schofield outside the gallery. After finishing this post (but not before!) I recommend you click the link to his website. Jonathan is a tour guide, writer, broadcaster and professional Mancunian with a reputation for ‘knowledge, wit and passion.’ Following the recommendation of a friend (Thank you, Christine) we thought we would try his Peterloo Massacre anniversary tour.

Jonathan Scholfield reading from Shelley's Masque of Anarchy outside Manchester Art Gallery
The poem, written immediately after the massacre, was promptly banned
What follows is a description of Jonathan’s tour and of the events of the 16th of August 1819. I have, of course, reconstructed the tour largely from memory and as Jonathan has a reputation for accuracy, any historical or geographical errors are mine. The events unfolded in the area covered by the aerial photograph below. 
Manchester, north east of the city centre
The Chinatown rectangle is in the top right-hand corner, the paifang crosses Faulkner Street at its Junction with Nicolas Street, The Red Chilli is on the corner of Nicholas and Portland Street. The events of the Peterloo Massacre took place in the south and central parts of the map
A major economic downturn followed the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Chronic unemployment and even famine were exacerbated by the 1815 Corn Laws which kept the price of wheat artificially high to the benefit of rural landowners and the disadvantage of the general populace.

The government favoured rural landowners because it was elected by rural landowners. Firstly only the well-off could vote and secondly the distribution of Parliamentary seats had ignored the huge population movements of the industrial revolution. Newly important cities, like Manchester and Liverpool, had no representation while over half the House of Commons was elected by ‘Rotten’ and ‘Pocket’ Boroughs like Old Sarum in Wiltshire, where seven voters, returned two MPs.

Radical politics was on the rise, particularly in Lancashire where the cotton industry created a huge proportion of the nation’s GDP but where the workers saw little of the wealth. Insurrection was in the air and revolution close when the Manchester Patriotic Union invited the well-known radical orator Henry Hunt to be the main speaker at a mass rally at St Peter’s Field on the 16th of August 1819.

With this in mind Jonathan led his tour up Mosley Street, turned left and approached Kennedy Street from the north. Here there is the unusual sight of three adjacent pubs, The Waterhouse, The City Arms and The Vine.

The Waterhouse, The City Arms and The Vine in Kennedy Street, Manchester
None have any direct connection with the events of 1819, but The Vine is one of the few surviving buildings once used as cotton weaving workshops. The upper floors, well-lit by the standards of the time, would have housed the looms, while the ground floor pub would have provided an extra source of income. The City Arms was the same but the upper storeys have long gone.

A closer look at The Vine, Kennedy Street, with the loom weavers' workshops above
Those heading for St Peter’s Field from the north, between 6 and 10,000 from Oldham 3,000 each from Bury, Middleton and Rochdale and smaller contingents from elsewhere, would have passed down Cooper Street or Mosley Street, then lined with the houses of the well-to-do. The 16th of August 1819 was a hot summer’s day (the same could not be said of the cool, blustery 19th of August 2017!) so some might have paused at the Vine or the City Arms for a little rehydration, but not too much; the instruction from leading radical Samuel Bamford were that the ‘meeting should be as morally effective as possible,’ the demonstrators should exhibit ‘cleanliness, sobriety, order and peace’ and carry ‘no weapons of offence or defence.’ They could not have stopped at The Waterhouse, which only became a pub when Wetherspoons put together three late 18th century houses and an office.

Cooper Street, down which the demonstrators would have marched -
and the other side of the Waterhouse across Princess Street
We walked past the cenotaph into St Peter’s Square.

Past the cenotaph and into St Peter's Square, Manchester
In my ignorance, I had assumed the St Peter’s Square was the site of the massacre. It was not, having only become a square in 1907 with the demolition of St Peter’s church - Manchester's new commercial centre no longer had sufficient residents to form a congregation.

The ‘square’ is an elongated rectangle, its centre dominated by St Peter’s Metro Link station.

The Metro Link Station and the east side of St Peter's Square, Manchester
While on the east side are the mid-20th century Central Library and Town Hall Extension.

The Central Library and Town Hall Extension, west side of St Peter's Square, Manchester
Continuing south across Peter Street we walked down Mount Street past the Midland Hotel. To observe proceedings the magistrates had gathered at a house where the Midland Hotel spa now stands. Looking from the spa windows you would see only the other side of Mount Street, but in 1819 they were looking over open ground. St Peter’s Field was not part of a city plan – there was no plan - Manchester’s haphazard development had just not yet claimed it.
The Midland Hotel, Manchester with Mount Street on its left
If the organisers were hoping for a peaceful demonstration, the magistrates were expecting violence if not insurrection. They had intercepted a letter from Joseph Johnson, secretary of the Manchester Patriotic Union inviting Henry Hunt to an earlier, cancelled, meeting. Johnson wrote ‘Nothing but ruin and starvation stare one in the face, the state of this district is truly dreadful, and I believe nothing but the greatest exertions can prevent an insurrection. Oh, that you in London were prepared for it.’ The magistrates had drawn their conclusion.

We gathered outside the Manchester Central Conference Complex at what was once the south-east corner of St Peter’s Field. From here we looked west towards the hustings, two carts lashed together, from which Henry Hunt would speak. The Radisson Hotel occupies that spot now, on the 1819 map (below) it was at the end of the line of Constables.

Looking west along Windmill Street from what was the South East corner of St Peter's Field.
The Radisson Hotel, the large building on the right of Windmill Street covers the spot where the hustings stood
The magistrates watched the banner waving crowd arrive, seeing men in their Sunday best and columns of women dressed all in white. Frightened by its size, 60,000+  is now the generally accepted figure, the magistrates deployed a double line of Special Constables (men sworn in for the day) through the crowd to the hustings and charged Chief Constable Jonathan Andrews with walking down that line and arresting Henry Hunt and the rest of the platform party. Andrews, understandably, declined.

Map of the Peterloo Massacre site, 1819

Having foreseen this eventuality, troops had been held in reserve. The magistrates sent a message to the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry in Portland Street and the 15th Hussars near Quay Street.

Sir, … I request you to proceed immediately to no. 6 Mount Street, where the magistrates are assembled. They consider the Civil Power wholly inadequate to preserve the peace.

When the note reached the Yeomanry, Captain Hugh Birley and 60 of his men drew their sabres and galloped towards St Peter’s Field. Birley was a mill owner and his yeomanry were recruited from local tradespeople; all were amateur soldiers and few were skilled horsemen, even when sober which, by some accounts, they were not.

In Cooper Street a woman ‘came into contact with one of the horses’ as the report disingenuously put it and her son was thrown from her arms and killed. Two-year-old William Fildes became the first victim of the Peterloo Massacre.

Arriving at the field the Yeomanry were tasked with escorting Andrews' deputy through the crowd to make the arrests. They managed this, but exactly what happened next is disputed. It is easy to see how amid the press of a huge, angry crowd, sitting atop frightened, rearing horses, the amateur soldiers lost their nerve. They began slashing indiscriminately with their sabres.

Print of the events on St Peter's Field produced by radical publisher Richard Carlile 

At this point the 15th Hussars arrived. They were told the crowd was attacking the Yeomanry, but as the disciplined regulars pushed forward their perception changed. ‘For shame! For shame! Gentlemen: forbear, forbear! The people cannot get away,’ one of their officers is reputed to have shouted at the Yeomanry. I suspect his actual language was more pithy.

St Peter's Field has completely disappeared, but the 1819 map shows a rectangular enclosure on the north edge of the field just below Dickenson Street. That enclosure is the wall seen above. It surrounds the Quaker Meeting House, though that was not built until 1830.
The Hussars cleared the field in ten minutes without further casualties. The number of dead was disputed but the usual list has fifteen names. It includes the unfortunate William Fildes, two special constables, one sabred in error, another killed by a mob two days later, and several who died of their wounds in the following days or weeks. Some 600 were injured, many of them later refused treatment in Manchester Infirmary.

We walked to the Radisson which incorporates the former Manchester Free Trade Hall, built to commemorate the repeal of the Corn Laws. After the Yeomanry were cleared of all wrong doing, the day’s events remained controversial in Manchester. For many years the only memorial was a blue plaque on wall of the Free Trade Hall, its wording strangely muted.

 The site of St Peter’s Fields
Where on the 16th of August 1819
addressed an assembly of
about 60,000 people
Their subsequent dispersal
by the Military is remembered as

In 2007 it was replaced by a more forthright red plaque.

Red memorial plaque, Free Trade Hall, Manchester

The dead are also commemorated in Library Walk, between the Central Library and the Town Hall Extension,…

Library Walk, Manchester
where fifteen red centred stars on the floor bear the names of the victims.

Memorial to two-year-old William Fildes, Library Walk, Manchester
In St Peter’s Square a cross stands where the altar of the church once was…

The site of St Peter's Church, Manchester
…and the victim’s names are temporarily attached.

Peterloo victims remembered on the St Peter's Church cross
John Tyas, the Times journalist covering the meeting, was on the platform and so was ‘accidentally’ arrested. Unable to file his report, the story was covered only in the radical papers. One of them coined the word ‘Peterloo’. The suffix -loo was popular after Waterloo (like -gate after Watergate). The 15th Hussars had fought at Waterloo and so had John Lees who was sabred to death in the massacre, so the name was particularly apposite. Peterloo was not the only event of its type and even though the sporadic rioting that followed resulted in more fatalities it was far from the worst, but its name has made it the best known.


Sir Hugh Birley was booed in the streets of Manchester for the rest of his life. He was buried in St Peter’s and now lies beneath the Metro Link so Manchester’s citizens ride over him daily, which is justice of a sort.

Henry Hunt and others were tried for sedition and received short jail terms. Men can be jailed, but ideas cannot and eventually (and it took a while) the radicals' demands were met.

The Great Reform Act of 1832 abolished rotten boroughs and granted Parliamentary seats to the new cities. It also doubled the suffrage to about 20% of adult males, a small step in the right direction.

The Corn Laws were not repealed until 1846, a belated and inadequate response to the Irish famine, but still welcome.

John Edward Taylor, a businessman who witnessed the massacre was moved to found the Manchester Guardian, a newspaper that would ‘zealously enforce the principles of civil and religious Liberty ... warmly advocate the cause of Reform ... endeavour to assist in the diffusion of just principles of Political Economy and ... support, without reference to the party from which they emanate, all serviceable measures.’ Now simply The Guardian it may sometimes fall short of those ideals, but gets far closer than most of the shameless propaganda sheets that masquerade as our free and fearless press.


My thanks to Jonathan Schofield who led a fascinating historical walk. Now would be a good time to look at his website.