Wigan Diggers Festival remembers a radical hero

Organisers are hoping this year's celebration of a radical Wigan thinker's life and ideas will be one of the best yet.
A previous Wigan Diggers FestivalA previous Wigan Diggers Festival
A previous Wigan Diggers Festival

The eighth edition of Wigan Diggers Festival takes over The Wiend, renamed Gerrard Winstanley Gardens for the day, next month to mark the 17th century writer and philosopher who played a huge role in the Diggers movement.

Other news: Ball will be a celebration of happinessDozens of radical causes will have stalls and there will be two stages packed with live music performances as well as poetry and spoken word.

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The Golden Spade will this year be presented to musician and activist Joe Solo, who regularly attends left-wing events and organised national campaign We Shall Overcome to put on gigs to support those on the breadline.

The festival has a number of high-profile supporters, including actress Maxine Peake, film director Ken Loach and screenwriter Jimmy McGovern, and it is hoped a major trade union conference starting the day after will bring a long list of VIPs to Wigan.

Festival secretary Janet Phillips said: “It’s going to be an exciting day. We’re just hoping for a festival that’s bigger and better.

“It’s a national event this year because the TUC conference starts on the Sunday, unions are having meetings in Wigan on Saturday so they can attend the festival too.

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“We’re giving the Diggers award to Joe Solo to celebrate his contribution to socialism. He travels around the country supporting different organisations and has played at Glastonbury.

“It’s a true celebration of socialism and shows how strong Wigan can be when it works together.”

The organisers have secured a coup by getting The Blockheads, which formerly backed Ian Dury, to headline the main stage.

Other acts on the bill include Wigan folk-rockers Merry Hell and Barnstormer, a band fronted by radical poet Attila the Stockbroker. Local talent including

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TE Yates, Bard Company and The Rare Ould Times will also perform.

A flag designed at The Deanery CE High School will fly over the festival and there will be talks at the parish church and museum.

The festival is on September 8 from 11am until 9.30pm. Find out more at www.wigandiggersfestival.org