Radical War 200th anniversary marked

Wednesday 8 April 2020

TRIBUTE has been paid to the eight people who were killed as a result of the Radical War in Greenock 200 years ago today.

A ceremony was planned to commemorate the bicentenary of the events of 8 April, 1820, but it had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A wreath and flowers were laid at the Radical War memorial in Greenock to mark the 200th anniversary
A wreath and flowers were laid at
the Radical War memorial in Greenock
to mark the 200th anniversary

Instead, a wreath was laid this morning by the council on behalf of the people of Inverclyde.

The local authority also commissioned a special video to mark the bicentenary, featuring music from local piper Pat Clark, which is now available to view at www.facebook.com/InverclydeCouncil/.

Provost Martin Brennan said: “It is with great sadness that we cannot mark this important anniversary in the way we had hoped.

“However, such a significant moment in Inverclyde and Scotland’s history could not pass by without being recognised.

“Some parallels can be drawn between the events of 8 April, 1820, and the present day in that people, young and old, have tragically died through no fault of their own.

“Our thoughts today are with those who perished 200 years ago – and to those we have lost recently.”

Also known as the ‘Scottish Insurrection’, soldiers opened fire on a crowd who tried to free impoverished anti-government protesters being escorted to Greenock jail.

Eight people were killed, including an eight-year-old boy and a man aged 65 – the youngest and oldest victims, and a further 10 were seriously injured.

It is regarded by many as the starting point of trade unionism in Scotland.

The names of all the victims and the words ‘remember the 8th of April, that bloody day when many were wounded and carried away’ are also inscribed along the wall at Bank Street, near to where the jail was located in 1820.

They were: James McGilp, eight; William Lindsay, 15; James Kerr, 17; Archibald Drummond, 20; John Boyce, 33; Adam Clephane, 48; John MacWhinnie, 65; and Archibald McKinnon, 17, who died from his wounds on 5 May 1820.

Councillor Jim Clocherty, Depute Leader of Inverclyde Council, who played a key role in establishing the Bank Street memorial in 2015, said: “It is an important event in our history that we must never forget.

“The Radical War of 1820, also known as the ‘Scottish Insurrection’, is regarded by many as the birth of trade unionism in this country.

“More importantly, it was the day in which eight people were tragically killed and ten more suffered life-changing injuries.

“Today, we remember their names and this chapter in our local history as we commemorate those who gave their lives to improve our society by seeking fairness for workers and democracy for all.”

A memorial service and reception in the Municipal Buildings was planned to mark the bicentenary, prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

The commemorative video features tributes from Provost Brennan, Cllr Clocherty, Inverclyde MP Ronnie Cowan, MSP Stuart McMillan and members of the local clergy.

More details about the 1820 Radical War are available at https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/events/7312/the-radical-war-memorial-8th-april-2020

Page last updated: 8 April 2020