Peterloo Massacre Memorial
In collaboration with Jeremy Deller Manchester, United Kingdom 2018–2019
Client: Manchester City Council
This memorial was designed in collaboration with the artist Jeremy Deller and was commissioned by Manchester City Council. The memorial commemorates the two-hundredth anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, an important event in the history of political reform in the UK, where a crowd of sixty thousand people, gathered peacefully to protest about parliamentary representation, were charged by soldiers on horseback, injuring seven hundred and killing nineteen people. The event took place at St Peter’s Field in the centre of Manchester. The memorial is located in the square in front of Manchester Convention Centre, close to the site of the event.
The design proposes a celebratory and colourful memorial built in stone, incorporating granites, sandstones, slates, and marbles from all regions of the UK. The names of those who were killed, as well as the names of the villages and towns around Manchester, from which the protestors came to the gathering in St Peter’s Field, are carved onto the vertical faces of the memorial steps. The horizontal surface of the steps has inlaid decoration, with imagery associated with Peterloo. The circular design within the top of the memorial, as well in the centre of the flat circle at the base, marks other events from around the world, where peaceful protest has been violently broken up by the state. The memorial effectively acts as a compass, connecting itself not just to the immediate environment close to the Peterloo site, but to greater Manchester and, ultimately, the rest of the world.
The artist’s intention was that the memorial would be used as a place of meeting and protest, particularly on the anniversary of the massacre. The stepped shape suggests a burial mound – a place to commemorate the dead – but is also intended to invite people to walk on it, to stand, and sit on it together. The design of two interlocking circles, one of which is stepped and the other flat, was made so that everyone can stand on the stones of the memorial. Nevertheless, an important part of the project during the public consultation process—and since its completion—has been the protest of access groups in Manchester, who have campaigned to have the design altered to make it fully accessible to wheelchair users. Discussions about changes to the memorial, in order to accommodate these wishes, are ongoing.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Manchester City Council
Caruso St John Architects
Adam Caruso, Peter St John
Rod Heyes, Livia Notarangelo, Frederik Kaufmann, Yuxin Wu
D.J. Lingard & Associates Ltd
Maybern Planning & Development Ltd
Conlon Construction Ltd
Mather & Ellis Ltd