Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tolpuddle memories.

The Blog is increasingly about things I haven't done - it's the same today. I would like to have been at The Tolpuddle Martyrs March but really, there was no way I could have done it.

Tolpuddle is quiet little village in the middle of rural Dorset. It's a backwater today - in 1834 it was even quieter. This was a time of revolt and revolutions and amid all that six farm labourers met under the sycamore tree in the middle of the village to form a farmworkers union to protect their rights and raise their wages. There was an informer in the village and the authorities were tipped off - the six men were arrested and convicted for 'administering an illegal oath'. A trumped up charge.

Despite nationwide protests, the six were transported to Australia for 7 years hard labour. The protests continued both here and in Australia and in the end the men were pardoned and brought home in triumph. The Trades Union Movement was born.

These days there are commemorative alms houses and a museum in quiet little Tolpuddle but once a year Trades Unionists from all over the South and West meet up for a rally and a festival every year. In the 1980's I have happy memories of singing there with The Workers Music Association.

The march through the village used to be led by the tiny banner of the Tolpuddle branch of the Agricultural Workers union;

I remember it well and although these days they have merged into my union; Unite!. they still lead the march.

I dragged Robyn to Tolpuddle a couple of years ago, as you can see;

I'm standing under the sycamore where the six men met to found their union.

But there was no way I could have made it today and the festival is now too big and crowded for me to cope with anyway.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Contact me:

No comments:

Post a Comment