COE, PETERS & SMYTH – The Road To Peterloo (Backshift Music BASHCD 65)

The Road To PeterlooIn spite of the establishment’s attempts to cover up the story of the massacre for nigh on two hundred years, it’s now common knowledge to anyone who cares to listen. Mike Leigh’s film has done a great service and now we have a musical history of the event compiled by Pete Coe, Brian Peters and Laura Smyth. It might have been tempting to write a folk opera but every word of The Road To Peterloo is contemporary with the events they describe. Some come from broadsides and Brian and Laura have laboured to marry existing tunes to the lyrics or write new ones where necessary.

The album falls into two halves. The first eight tracks deal with the build-up to the meeting and several of the songs passed into the folk repertoire and remain familiar. ‘The Drummer Boy For Waterloo’ serves to remind us that the massacre took place just four years after Wellington’s victory. Young Edmund “escaped” his life in the cotton mills but died on the battlefield and it’s hard to say whether or not he was better off. . ‘Jone O’Grinfield’ is better known as ‘Four Loom Weaver’ in this version but another song with the same title also tells of a man joining the army in preference to starving at home. ‘Cropper Lads’ celebrates, if that’s the right word, the wrecking of Cartwright’s Mill by Luddites in 1812 and ‘Tom Paine’ is an old broadside set to a new tune by Laura. All this and the Corn Laws, too – everything’s coming to a head.

The second half begins with an instrumental break in the shape of a couple of jigs and then we get to the meat of the story. ‘With Henry Hunt We’ll Go’, ‘Rise, Britons, Rise’ and ‘John Stafford’s Song’ all describe aspects of the massacre, the latter being particularly graphic, while ‘St Ethelstone’s Day’ and ‘The Pride Of Peterloo’ are bitter satires of the events. Finally, ‘The Chartist Anthem’ and ‘Kersal Moor’ document the continuing protests – Peterloo wasn’t the end of the story by any means.

Pete, Brian and Laura haven’t tried to be too clever. They sing and play their instruments without overdubs or guest musicians and some may find the sound of The Road To Peterloo a little old-fashioned. Of course, if you’ve heard any or all of the trio in a folk club, you’ll know better.

Dai Jeffries

Project website: www.theroadtopeterloo.com

‘The Triumph Of Liberty’:


Any CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD that are reviewed or featured above (where available) can be ordered below through our UK or US Storefront 

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.


Click above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD


Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/

Alternatively, search the Amazon main UK Store below.




Click above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD


Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/

Alternatively, search the Amazon main US Store below (change selection from Jethro Tull and click 'Go').


We all give our spare time to run folking.com. Our aim has always been to keep folking a free service for our visitors, artists, PR agencies and tour promoters. If you wish help out and donate something (running costs currently funded by Darren Beech), please click the PayPal link below to send us a small one off payment or a monthly contribution.