Monday, 13 August 2018

October 24th 1981 ...... a banner, a cause and a march ... one I remember

Now the thing about a demonstration is that it has a short life in the popular memory.

Walking up from All Saints
If the aim of the demonstration is successful then it is pretty much forgotten in the serious detail of implementing the changes it called for, and if it fails then it quickly slips into obscurity.

Of course there are memorable exceptions like the historic March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 at which Dr King delivered the “I Have a Dream" speech, and all of us will be able to pull out another.

As for the rest, at best they merge together, get mixed up or become a blur.

In St Peter's Square
But for me, many of them stay fresh because I took the pictures, ......... lots of them covering a dozen or so
demonstrations  during the 1970s and into the next decade, covering protests over nuclear weapons, rising unemployment, cuts in public expenditure and those nasty little wars which killed many and left both the victorious and defeated no better off.

Most of the images survived the years in the cellar, although a few were such poor quality to start off with that they will never see the light of day.

And then around 1984 I stopped, partly because our Ben had been born, and for a while the demands of nappies and feeds took over, and because I felt less comfortable at going along and photographing people especially given that there were “official photographers” on all the marches who many viewed with suspicion.

All of which meant that perhaps for two decades I rarely attended a demonstration and since then have never carried a camera.

That said of course these days, anyone with a mobile phone can record the events as well I ever did with my two Pentax K1000’s.

Passing Central Ref
So with that in mind and because this is a history blog, here are four images from a peace march through Manchester in the October of 1981.

The march started off from All Saints which was one of the usual starting off points, and by degree made its way up through St Peter’s Square, into Piccadilly and then down either Market Street or Cannon Street and finishing at Crown Square, which back then was a drab windy place dominated by the law courts and the old Education Offices.

Looking back at the four, there are plenty of people I recognise, many of whom would have been on other demonstrations with me.

And because we are now dealing with an event which is 37 years ago, many of the buildings we passed have gone.

Frank Allaun MP and others 
I did toy with the idea of leaving you guess which have gone, but I didn’t.

So in no particular order the lost, include the tall Maths Tower opposite Manchester Museum, that fine stone building in St Peter’s Square, the old bus station by the Arndale and of course Crown Square, although the picky will maintain that the open space is still there but I doubt it retains its name.

There will be others but these I have deliberately missed off the list.
I am also prepared to be corrected on the route after Piccadilly but know we finished up in Crown Square because half a dozen  pictures testify to that.

So I shall leave it at that and just reflect on how busy the march was and just how many people you recognise.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Marching against Cruise Missiles, October, 1981 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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