13: The Oldham Tinkers – Peterloo

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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For much of my childhood and youth I’d fled from folk music because of the constant presence on television of The Spinners – a group of cardigan wearers who did much to smother the form with comfortable blandness.

Then I heard The Oldham Tinkers, whose songs were, I guess, the first UK folk recordings I really liked. (They were also local heroes when I was growing up in Rochdale and going to school in Oldham). Earthy, humane, often bloody funny, the Tinkers were also – and remain – singing social historians.

I still find this song very moving, recalling the massacre, by mounted cavalry, of peaceful pro-democracy, anti Corn Laws and free trade protesters at a rally of working people on St Peter’s Fields in Manchester on August 16th 1819. The Free Trade Hall was later built on the site and named in memory of their sacrifice.


Today (Sunday 17/02/13) is the 70th birthday of John Howarth of the Tinkers, who sings this ballad. Happy birthday, John. Long may you run! And the Tinkers.

And well done, whoever put together this instructive little video.

Now, run along and buy my book via the BUY THE BOOK link up there on the top menu bar.

“Sensational. Wildly hilarious. An amazing read.” – Stephen Fry.


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