Wednesday, 7 September 2016
TODAY, Melvyn Bragg explores the radical movements that sprang from the North - Chartism, the campaign for women's votes, anti-slavery protests, the birth of the Labour Party. The programme begins outside Manchester's Midland Hotel where Mr Rolls met Mr Royce. It's also near the site of the Peterloo Massacre - one of the defining moments in British social history. People had gathered here in their thousands from the city and surrounding towns and villages - protesting for parliamentary reform. fifteen were slain and hundreds wounded by charging cavalry troops. Melvyn visits what one contributor Dr Robert Poole describes as Democracy Wall - it runs alongside of the nearby Quaker Meeting House - many people were crushed against it at the time of the Massacre. The wall is the only structure left from the period. The massacre inspired the poet Shelley to write the Masque of Anarchy, part of which is read for us by the actor Maxine Peake.
Melvyn goes on to describe the rich history of dissent nurtured in the north - the women's suffrage movement, the campaign to abolish slavery, chartism, and the founding of the Independent Labour Party.
Why the north?
Was it Methodism, the size of the population, the isolated landscapes, the topography of the cities or even the weather?