Actress Maxine Peake speaks at Peterloo event in Manchester

Maxine Peake
Image caption Maxine Peake spoke to the crowd in Manchester city centre and read out the names of those who died

Actress Maxine Peake has joined the annual Peterloo massacre commemorations in Manchester City Centre.

At least 10 people were killed and hundreds injured in 1819 when troops charged a crowd at St Peter's Field who were demanding political reform.

Talks are ongoing about creating a permanent memorial, the Peterloo Massacre Campaign said.

Ms Peake, from Bolton, said the event highlighted the importance of "democracy and liberty".

More than 60,000 people, who were reported to be unarmed, attended a meeting on 16 August 1819 that called for voting rights for working men.

But local magistrates sent in an armed cavalry through the crowd to arrest speakers, including the political reformer Henry Hunt.

The consequent carnage, dubbed Peterloo after the battle at Waterloo a few years earlier, inspired the protest poem The Mask of Anarchy by the English Romantic writer Percy Bysshe Shelley and the birth of the Guardian newspaper in Manchester.

Image caption A group marched with banners to Windmill Street in Manchester

Ms Peake, famous for her roles in Silk and Dinner Ladies, said: "I think we should never forget events like this. It is not just about remembering... a historical event. It is about how it affects our future and how in some ways things haven't changed that much and in some ways they have.

"But it's about the importance of protest, the importance of people having a voice. The importance of democracy and liberty, it is something that should never be forgotten and the fact that Manchester is a really progressive city and it should be really proud of that."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cavalrymen charged through the crowd at St Peter's Field in 1819

Organiser Martin Gittins said: "It is one of the most significant events in political history, and in the story of democracy in the world, it happened here. Three years before the bi-centenary we are hoping and expecting there will be a suitable memorial in place in time for that."

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