There has been an annual gathering to mark the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs since 1930s. It began as a Sunday afternoon event with wreaths laid on the grave of James Hammett, followed by a procession of banners and speeches.
Today, the annual event sees thousands of trade unionists from around the UK and the world descends on the small village of Tolpuddle in Dorset to celebrate the memory of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the legancy they left behind.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival reflects the spirit of those prepared to stand up and be counted, and for those just learning about its history. It is a joyful celebration of solidarty.
Read the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs here.
Festival 2021 - watch again
For the second year running, the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival 2021 went online. But this year we went one better and live-streamed most of the content from the Festival site.
With interviews and debates, a session from the Radical History School, and plenty of music, we brought the best of the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival straight into your living rooms.
Many thanks to all who contributed and helped make this alternative such a success. And if you want to re-watch or catch up on anything from the weekend, scroll down for our highlight or head over to our Youtube channel.
We teamed up with the People's Assembly and ..... to bring you a great discussion on the power of protest. With protest songs from the likes of Billy Bragg, Crys Matthews, Si Kahn and more, this was a great way to kick off the Festival. Watch again here.
Debates and discussions
There were also plenty of debates on current issues of the day, with insightful views from guest speakers in the union and labour movement.
- Radical History School talk on "Joan Maynard: passionate socialist" with Kristine Mason O'Connor and interview with Barry Leathwood.
Plus we supported Dorset Stand up to Racism's protest march against the Drax Estate and invited speakers from the rally and online to discuss why reparations for the slave trade are so important. Watch it all again here.
We paid tribute to the martyrs at the site of James' grave in a poignant ceremony that reminds us every year of why we come together to commemorate and celebrate their story. With Graham Moore, a local, acclaimed singer-songwriter whose Tolpuddle songs provided the perfect backdrop to this moment.
This year's procession was smaller this year but no less mighty. Working closely with our unions, a limited number of local members from each trade union came and marched with their banners, led by the fantastic all-female Bhangra dance group, Eternal Taal to re-create the procession for you all to watch.
We also invited speakers from the union movement who spoke online or live from the march on the importance of commemorating the story of the six farm workers from Tolpuddle, and how their struggle still resonates with workers today. Watch again here.
- Nigel Costley South West TUC Regional Secretary
Gail Cartmail TUC President, and Assistant General Secretary of Unite.
- Bev Clarkson Unite, Food and Drink National Officer
- Frances O’Grady TUC General Secretary
- Thangam Debbonaire MP Shadow Leader of the House
Victoria Sandino Colombian senator, former guerrilla commander and now peace negotiator
Plus plenty of music!
We know the pandemic has hit the creative industries especially hard. So we were even more keen to support performers who saw their livelihoods suddenly disappear overnight. We brought familiar faces back and invited new ones to join us in this year's Festival celebration. We were also very fortunate to have four musicians from the states join us online.
A full list and link to their Festival performances is below. Enjoy!
- John D Revelator – here and here
- Maddy Carty
- Crys Matthews and Heather Mae
- The Babar Luck World Citizen Folk Band
- Ngaio (plus interview)
- Si Kahn
- Carsie Blanton
- Anthony D’Amato
Steve White and the Protest Family
- Emily Capell
- Beans on Toast