Diggers Festival of art and politics success

Wiganers once again turned out in force to celebrate the life and ideas of a radical local thinker and writer.

The seventh Wigan Diggers Festival took over The Wiend, renamed Gerrard Winstanley Gardens for the day in honour of the 17th century political activist and philosopher.

Wigan Diggers Festival

Wigan Diggers Festival

Festival-goers enjoyed a packed programme of music and politics to hail the Diggers movement, based on Winstanley’s belief that “the Earth was made a common treasury for all”.

Dozens of stalls brought together political parties, radical and left-wing movements, environmental and green organisations, unions and campaigns.

Popular Wigan folk-rockers Merry Hell headlined the bill of entertainment on the main stage, with other groups performing including John the Baptist and the Second Coming, the Brandon Lee Webb Band and folk act Harp and a Monkey.

The audience also enjoyed music and performance poetry from the likes of George Melling, Eva Curless, John Bartley and Lawrence Hoy.

Some of the crowd at the Wigan Diggers Festival

Some of the crowd at the Wigan Diggers Festival

A new flag designed by pupils at Hawkley Hall High School flew proudly over proceedings and there was an emotional tribute to Diggers Festival committee member and folk music stalwart Joan Blackburn.

The day also included historical re-enactments, plays and talks. High-profile visitors to previous festivals have included actor Maxine Peake, screenwriter Jimmy McGovern and director Ken Loach.