Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Forgotten Riot Takes Its Place in History

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Forgotten Riot Takes Its Place in History

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

A riotous time is being lined up for a market town this summer. A pounds 24,640 grant has been awarded to mark a riot in Hexham market place in 1761.

More than 50 people are thought to have been killed and hundreds injured after soldiers opened fire on protesters.

But compared to a similar disturbance involving the military and crowds of protesters in Manchester in 1819, the Hexham riot is little known.

The Peterloo Massacre, as the Manchester riot became known, resulted in the loss of 11 lives - far fewer than the Hexham violence.

Now the Local Heritage Initiative scheme is giving Hexham Community Partnership the money it needs for a plaque in memory of the victims.

A commemorative day is being planned for June 19.

It is likely to involve a re-enactment, costumed events, the reading of the Riot Act and the unveiling of the memorial.

There will also be workshops with schools and Hexham people, projects involving artists from the area to build up a picture of the event, and a guidebook.

It is hoped the commemoration will become an annual event.

The aim is also to work with community groups to trace the descendants of those who died.

The riot took place on March 9, 1761, and was one of a series of protests across the North over the introduction of a system of balloting to select men for three years' military service.

The project is part of the community partnership's regeneration drive for Hexham.

Regeneration manager Karen Donaldson said the events of 1761 were a vital part of the area's history.

She said: "This was one of the most significant riots of the time, but people now don't know much about it. It is a big story and a very tragic story needs to be told.

"Heritage is often undervalued, but it is extremely important. It is what visitors come to find out about.

"We want to give a sense of what happened, when people resisted a system which would have meant breadwinners being taken away from their jobs or land and leaving families to survive as best they could. …

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