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In the 1830s, life for farm workers was hard and they could not bear more cuts to their pay. In Dorset they organised a union to fight back but this brought harsh punishments. People around the country campaigned and won the freedom of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
In 1834, farm workers in west Dorset formed a trade union. Unions were lawful and growing fast but six leaders of the union were arrested and sentenced to seven years’ transportation for taking an oath of secrecy. The Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum tells the harrowing tale of the Martyrs arrest, trial and punishment, leading to the foundation of modern day trade unionism.
Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival
Every year 5000 people gather in the green fields of Tolpuddle to celebrate our movement, how far we've come, and debate and strategise for how we continue fighting for workers rights in the UK and beyond. Join us in the green fields of Tolpuddle, 19-21 July 2024!


This year's festival is 19-21 July, tickets available now!