VIDEO: Diggers Festival celebrates local radical hero

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The town centre once again rocked for radical causes as the annual Wigan Diggers Festival celebrated the life and work of a local historical hero.

The annual bash in commemoration of 17th-century writer and philosopher Gerrard Winstanley once again drew the crowds for a day of entertainment and politics.

Wigan Diggers Festival

Wigan Diggers Festival

The biggest coup for the festival organisers saw The Blockheads, known as the backing band for iconic vocalist Ian Dury, take to the stage on Believe Square, once again renamed Gerrard Winstanley Gardens for the day, to headline the event.

Other musical acts on the packed bill, which spread over two stages, included Wigan’s popular folk-rock eight-piece Merry Hell , local acts TE Yates, The Joe Astley Band and the Brandon Lee Webb Band, and unique group Barnstormer fronted by radical poet Attila the Stockbroker.

The annual spade award for furthering the cause of socialism this year went to musician Joe Solo, who has performed at Glastonbury.

He founded We Shall Overcome, which puts on hundreds of gigs across the country to raise money for local food banks.

Other events at Saturday’s celebration of Winstanley’s life and ideas included talks and a reenactment of the digging of common land in the 1600s.

Winstanley founded the movement The Diggers to challenge the dominance of wealthy landowners, believing instead that “the Earth was made a common treasury for all.”

That has made him importance both to left-wing and environmental thinkers.