Diggers Festival of art and politics for radical

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

Wigan Diggers Festival
Wigan Diggers Festival

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.

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.

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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.

Wigan Diggers Festival

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

    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.

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    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.

    Some of the crowd at the Wigan Diggers Festival
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    Wigan Diggers Festival
    Some of the crowd at the Wigan Diggers Festival