The story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs began in 1834. Six farm labourers were arrested and charged with taking an illegal oath.
But their real crime was forming a Trade Union to protest against their treatment by the established landowners and the meagre, poverty pay they received.
The arrest, conviction, deportation to Australia, and the campaign to free the Tolpuddle Martyrs is a story that inspires trade unionists everywhere. The story of the Martyrs is commemorated every year, with a festival in the Dorset village of Tolpuddle.
Over the weekend of 14-16th July 2017 trade unionists gathered again to remember those who began the fight, a fight which continues in the 21st Century.
In 1834 George Loveless wrote, “We raise the watchword, liberty. We will, we will, we will be free”, words which continue to inspire workers everywhere to fight injustice and oppression.
The festival is a celebration of debate, music, comedy, film and speech. On the Sunday of the festival there is a trade union procession through the village.