Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Samuel Bamford Obelisk in Middleton commemorates Peterloo leader
Samuel Bamford, Middleton Cemetery behind St Leonard’s Church.
One years’ imprisonment for treason in Lincoln gaol was the fate suffered by Samuel Bamford for leading the Middleton contingent on 16 August 1819 to St Peter’s Fields, Manchester where armed cavalry charged on a peaceful pro democracy crowd of 70,000 demonstrators, killing at least 18 and seriously injuring over 700 people. The ‘Peterloo Massacre‘ is now annually commemorated in a ‘Campaign for a fitting memorial to the martyrs of democracy.’ See www.peterloomassacre.org
Bamford was born in Middleton on 28 February 1788 and became a weaver and then a warehouseman but it was as a radical poet and writer that he became best known and his Passages in the Life of a Radical (1840-44) is regarded as a historically important guide to the conditions of the working classes after 1815.
Bamford was convinced after Peterloo that the superior physical power of the state would always overcome radical militancy and although he continued to campaign for radical reform he opposed any activism involving physical force.
Bamford died on 13 April 1872 and was given a public funeral that was attended by thousands. The huge obelisk memorial to him that was paid from public subscription was unveiled at Middleton Cemetery in 1877 and includes an inscription: ‘Bamford was a reformer when to be so was unsafe, and he suffered for his faith.’ Sadly Middleton Cemetery behind St Leonard’s Church, much of which was erected in 1412, is now quite badly overgrown.