Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival

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Tolpuddle Martyrs' festival
Tolpuddle martyrs festival.jpg
Billy Bragg performing in 2004
Date(s)Third week in July
Location(s) Tolpuddle, Dorset, England
Attendance10,000 [1]

The Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival and Rally is an annual festival held in the village of Tolpuddle, in Dorset, England, which celebrates the memory of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The event is a celebration of trade unionism and labour politics organised by the Dorset Committee of the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers, now a section of Unite the Union, and the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The festival is usually held in the third week of July, and features a parade of banners from trade unions, a memorial service, speeches and music.


Parade, 2016 Unite contingent, Tolpuddle Rally 2016.jpg
Parade, 2016

Each year a wreath is laid at the grave of James Hammett, one of the martyrs, in the churchyard of Tolpuddle parish church.

The main festival events are held outside the Martyrs' Museum on the western edge of Tolpuddle village. The main speeches and performances take place on a small stage in front of the Tolpuddle cottages and museum, with audience space on the green. The adjacent field, as well as having camping space, has a marquee, Workers Beer Company bar and merchandise stalls.

Tony Benn speaking in 2012 Tony Benn, Tolpuddle 2012.JPG
Tony Benn speaking in 2012

Recent festivals have featured speeches from politicians Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, Jim Knight, Estelle Morris, and former Labour Leader , Jeremy Corbyn, as well as British trade union leaders and international union organisers, especially from countries where organising unions is difficult, such as Iraq and Colombia. Musicians have included Billy Bragg, Dick Gaughan, David Rovics and Graham Moore. The UK Youth Parliament and Dorset Youth Council run youth debates annually.

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  1. "Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival draws record crowd". BBC. 17 July 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2014.

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