A new presentation telling the story of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, 1819

through the ballads of the time

with Brian Peters, Laura Smyth and Pete Coe


Jun 8: Glossop, Labour Club

Jun 9: Blackburn, Mellor Brook Community Centre

Jul 20: Brampton, Music on the Marr Festival

Aug 2: Stockport, Library (lecture)

Aug 4: Sidmouth Folk Festival

Aug 12: Broadstairs Folk Festival

Aug 20: Whitby Folk Festival

Sep 15: Bolton, Bromley Cross Folk Club

Sep 22: The Place, Bedford

Oct 5: Derby Folk Festival

Oct 9: London, Cecil Sharp House

Oct 13: Abbots Langley, Village Hall

Nov 3: Halifax, Square Chapel Arts Centre


‘The Road to Peterloo’ tells the tale of one of the most notorious incidents in British labour history – the ‘Peterloo Massacre’ in Manchester in 1819 – through some of the many broadside ballads that were printed around the time of the event.  Three singers and musicians from North West England, Pete Coe, Brian Peters and Laura Smyth, begin the story in the early 19th century, sketching out the background with songs of the Napoleonic Wars, the Luddite uprising, and the poverty and hunger suffered by handloom weavers, cotton spinners and other workers.  Ballads written in the immediate aftermath of the carnage, describe the terrible events of the day, when mounted soldiers charged into a peaceful crowd of pro-democracy demonstrators and killed or injured many men, women and children by their indiscriminate use of sabres.  On a more optimistic note, the show ends with songs describing subsequent developments such as the rise of Chartism.  

Laura, Brian and Pete present a trove of freshly-discovered material, sourced partly from Dr. Alison Morgan’s new book ‘Ballads and Songs of Peterloo’, and partly from their own research, with many set to specially-composed tunes.  Between them they offer three fine voices and instrumental skills on concertina, melodeon, bouzouki, guitar, cello and banjo, and add to the mix period dance music from the Manchester area.

We’ll be recording a CD in April.  In the meantime, here are three demos recorded June 2018