Caruso St John and Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller’s new Peterloo Memorial has been completed in Manchester’s city centre amid controversy over its accessibility
Construction workers quietly uncovered the monument this week in time for the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre; however there was no unveiling event to mark the occasion.
The colourful memorial – two interlocking circles of granite and marble – has faced controversy after disability rights campaigners protested over the lack of wheelchair access to its stepped platform.
Responding to the outcry at the time, Deller said he had taken responsibility for ‘not considering enough the needs of people in wheelchairs’.
He added that he hoped that, ‘once the memorial is built, there might be a way to adapt it’.
As the project was unveiled, Caruso St John said the access group’s campaign for wheelchair accessibility was ’an important part of the project’ and discussions over how to change the memorial remained ongoing.
The Peterloo Massacre took place at St Peter’s Field in Manchester on 16 August 1819 when cavalry charged into a crowd of up to 60,000 peaceful protesters rallying for parliamentary reform, killing 18 people and injuring hundreds more.
The architect and artist design team were commissioned last year to design the memorial ahead of the 200th anniversary of the deaths.
While one of the monument’s circles is flat, the other is stepped and intended to be used as a platform for potential meetings, with names of places that the protestors were from carved into the vertical faces of the steps.
The horizontal stone surfaces have inlaid decoration with imagery associated with the Peterloo massacre, while the stepped form is also suggestive of a burial mound.
Two centre points within the circles mark the direction of other events from around the world where peaceful protest has also been broken up by the state.
Start on site 2018
Completion date August 2019
Architect Caruso St John
Artist Jeremy Deller
Client Manchester City Council
Structural engineer DJ Lingard and Associates
Planning consultant Maybern Planning and Development
Main contractor Conlon Construction
Stonework contractor Mather and Ellis