The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival and Rally is an annual festival held 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 many trade unions, a memorial service, speeches and music.
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.
Recent festivals have featured speakers including politicians Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, Jim Knight, Estelle Morris, and currentLabour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as well as British trade union leaders and many union organisers from around the world, especially from countries where organising unions is difficult, such as Iraq and Colombia. Musicians include Billy Bragg, now an (almost) annual fixture, Dick Gaughan, David Rovics and Graham Moore.
Here are some photos from the day.