Bringing this fascinating character to life for the people of Salford
In this intriguing curiosity of a project, rooted in local history, we worked with Salford-based Working Class Movement Library (WCML) to celebrate the 200th anniversary of radical writer Thomas Paine's bones coming to Salford.
In November 1819 the bones of this pioneering political theorist were brought to Salford, after having been dug up from their original resting place in New York by campaigning journalist William Cobbett, only to be refused entry to Manchester by the authorities, with the horrors of the recent events at Peterloo still afresh in their minds.
To mark the bicentenary of this bizarre event and to celebrate Paine's revolutionary writings and ideas (Common Sense, Rights of Man, Age of Reason), this joint project with the WCML aims to mix the traditional with the contemporary, and the unusual with the familiar.
The Bones of Paine puppet made its debut at the 16 August performances of From the Crowd, which marked the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre.
During autumn 2019, an exciting strand of community-led events took place which brought the story of Thomas Paine to life including; Salford's Big Day Out, Fun Palace, Witches Walk, Irlam Fireworks and the Bones of Paine Procession.
"We're excited to be working with the people of Salford and Walk the Plank on telling this bizarre but importat story, which offers a local angle on a character who had a significant impact on history internationally. Recounting the story within the context of events such as Peterloo helps give this unusual tale a relevance to a modern audience. We hope that our Bones of Paine events will get everyone talking about the extraordinary Thomas Paine in a fun and engaging way that inspires curiosity." Lynette Cawthra, WCML Manager.
Images by Chris Payne