Square four-quartered flag

The Skelmanthorpe flag, a symbol of political struggle, was made in Skelmanthorpe near Huddersfield in Yorkshire in 1819. The flag or banner was made to honour the victims of the Peterloo Massacre,The Peterloo Massacre (or Battle of Peterloo) occurred at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 that had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. who were attacked during a peaceful demonstration at St Peter’s Fields in Manchester.

The flag or banner may have been made in Radcliffe Street, Skelmanthorpe by a Mr Bird.[1] It is made of white cotton, 5 feet high and 5 feet 8 inches wide, with an embroidered border and is divided into four quarters. One panel shows a bound man depicting a slave in chains, a symbol of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and the single eye, the eye of God, keeping watch over humankind was a symbol of justice.[2]

The flag was made at a time when social changes caused by industrialisation and urbanisatation had led to demands from the working and middle classes for electoral reform and especially commemorates the Peterloo Massacre in August 1819.[2] The flag was one of thousands of banners carried at reform meetings when it was mounted between two poles to accompany the contingent from Skelmanthorpe. It was carried to a reform meeting at Almondbury Bank in November 1819, and to other meetings including the Chartist rally attended by 250,000 people at Peep Green between Roberttown and Hartshead in 1837.[2][3] The banner was hidden between meetings, buried in a special box to prevent its destruction and the arrest of its custodion by the authorities.[3] In 1884 it was paraded at a reform meeting in St George’s Square in Huddersfield. It was found folded up in a disused warehouse by Fred Lawton, in Skelmanthorpe and given to Huddersfield’s Tolson Museum in 1924.[4]



Lawton, F. (1926). The Flag of Freedom. Skelmanthorpe Historical Society. http://www.skelmanthorpehistoricalsociety.btck.co.uk/SkelmanthorpeFlag
Skelmanthorpe Banner 1819. (2016). SSLH. Society for the Study of Labour History. http://www.sslh.org.uk/news-post/2016-04-03-skelmanthorpe-banner-1819
Staff Writer. (2011, October 22). Huddersfield workers’ banners to get national spotlight. Huddersfield Examiner. https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/huddersfield-workers-banners-national-spotlight-4966639
The Skelmanthorpe flag. (2010). The BBC. A History of the World. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/0YMOwNq0TouwZ9JHk5PXNw