Published on 8th September 2017 by

The Peterloo Massacre was England’s Tiananmen Square. On August 16th 1819, tens of thousands of cotton spinners and their wives and children gathered in St Peter’s Fields in central Manchester to hear the fiery words of a radical orator called Henry Hunt, preaching revolution and equality. With orders to arrest him, a radical militia on horseback and sabres drawn charged into the middle of the crowd. Hundreds were brutally wounded, and 11 men, women and children died. This is the story of the aftermath, recounting the events of one particular inquest held in an Oldham pub into the death one of the casualties, John Lees, a young spinner and veteran of Waterloo. Using the original transcripts of the trial, the film depicts the courtroom battle between the proponents of the “official version” and a campaigning radical London lawyer, who took on the might of the British State and turned a tiny back room of a pub into a national trial. What unfolds isn’t just a compelling courtroom drama, but a riveting picture of a nation on the brink of revolution, and the way the forces of law and order work to hide the truth. Documentary first broadcast in 2003.

Content licensed from DRG.

Produced by RDF Productions.

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