Tolpuddle goes online

This year’s Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival has been moved exclusively online, organisers have confirmed today.

The South West TUC is making the virtual event as similar as possible to the original, complete with debates, films, comedy, music, a kids’ area, and a virtual procession on the Sunday afternoon.

The event, held in Dorset every July to commemorate the six farmworkers transported to Australia after forming a union, was cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis. 

The virtual festival, held on the same days as the original (July 17, 18 and 19) will be live-streamed across various digital platforms. For exclusives and teasers in the run-up to the festival, organisers are inviting attendees to join the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival Facebook group .

Festival organiser and regional secretary of the TUC South West Nigel Costley said: “Tolpuddle has always been more than simply music and politics. It’s a gathering of like-minded people, a joyous celebration of trade union solidarity – and that’s what we’re hoping to reflect online.

“We have a full programme of topical debates, a full programme of films and a full programme of music ranging from those who would have played this year’s event to those who we welcome back from previous festivals – all performing exclusive sets for us.

“We’ll also be covering the wreath-laying, interviewing stall-holders and encouraging families to design banners so they can join the virtual procession on Sunday afternoon.

“The whole event will be compered by familiar faces from the festival to add that special Tolpuddle touch.”

Punters are being asked to keep an eye on the Facebook page for announcements of speakers and artists. “We have some special surprises in store,” said Nigel Costley.

The festival is free to attend for all. Visit www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk for more information. The Festival will be live streamed on the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Facebook group and the Museum’s Youtube channel.

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