The Festival 

There has been an annual gathering to mark the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs since 1930s.  It began as a Sunday afternoon event with wreaths laid on the grave of James Hammett, followed by a procession of banners and speeches.

Today, the annual event sees thousands of trade unionists from around the UK and the world descends on the small village of Tolpuddle in Dorset to celebrate the memory of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the legacy they left behind.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival reflects the spirit of those prepared to stand up and be counted, and for those just learning about its history.  It is a joyful celebration of solidarity.

Read the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs here. 


Festival 2021 - watch again

For the second year running, the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival 2021 went online. But this year we went one better and live-streamed most of the content from the Festival site. 
With interviews and debates, a session from the Radical History School, and plenty of music, we brought the best of the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival straight into your living rooms. 

Many thanks to all who contributed and helped make this alternative such a success. And if you want to re-watch or catch up on anything from the weekend, scroll down for our highlight or head over to our Youtube channel


Change rarely comes without... PROTEST! 

We teamed up with the People's Assembly to bring you a great discussion on the power of protest. With protest songs from the likes of Billy Bragg, Crys Matthews, Si Kahn and more, this was a great way to kick off the Festival. Watch again here.

Debates and discussions

Debates and discussions banner


 There were also plenty of debates on current issues with insightful views from guest speakers from the union and labour movement. 

Joan Maynard book

Plus we supported Dorset Stand up to Racism's protest march against the Drax Estate and invited speakers from the rally and around the world to discuss why reparations for the slave trade are so important. Watch it all again here


wreath laying live

Tribute to James Hammett and wreath-laying ceremony

We paid tribute to the martyrs at the site of James' grave in a poignant ceremony that reminds us every year of why we come together to commemorate and celebrate their story. With Graham Moore, a local, acclaimed singer-songwriter whose Tolpuddle songs provided the perfect backdrop to this moment. 

Watch again here.  


The procession

This year's procession was smaller but no less mighty. Working closely with our unions, a limited number of local members from each trade union came and marched with their banners, led by the fantastic all-female Bhangra dance group, Eternal Taal to re-create the procession for you to watch.

We also invited speakers from the union movement who spoke online or live from the march on the importance of commemorating the story of the six farm workers from Tolpuddle,  and how their struggle still resonates with workers today. Watch again here. 

  • Nigel Costley South West TUC Regional Secretary 
  • Gail Cartmail TUC President, and Assistant General Secretary of Unite.
  • Bev Clarkson Unite, Food and Drink National Officer 
  • Frances O’Grady TUC General Secretary 
  • Thangam Debbonaire MP Shadow Leader of the House 
  • Victoria Sandino Colombian senator, former guerrilla commander and now peace negotiator

Sunday guest speakers

Plus plenty of music!

We know the pandemic has hit the creative industries especially hard. So we were even more keen to support performers who saw their livelihoods suddenly disappear overnight. We brought familiar faces back and invited new ones to join us for the 2021 Festival celebration. We were also very fortunate to have four musicians from the states join us online. 

A full list and link to their Festival performances is below. Enjoy!