Fenian Ambush

This is a memorial that you may have to seek out because it isn't exactly in a location most people would pass on any given day.  It sits on Hyde Road not far from Devonshire Street, at the point where the railway crosses the road.  It was at this point in 1867 that a prison van containing prisoners, enroute to the nearby Belle Vue Prison (below) from the courthouse in the city centre, was attacked by a group of 30 or 40 men in an attempt to free the prisoners. 

The mounted escort fled and in the melee the police officer in the van was shot and killed and the two prisoners escaped.  Apparently, the men had been arrested under the vagrancy act by police officers in Shudehill who suspected them of planning to rob a shop.  They were infact members of a Fenian group.  The incident was described as the “Manchester Outrage”.  The two prisoners who escaped were never recaptured but three men, William Allen, Michael Larkin and Michael O'Brien, were tried, convicted of the murder of the police guard and hung at the New Bailey Prison (below).  Over time they became known as the “Manchester Martyrs”.

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