[Diggers350] Wigan Diggers Festival Sat 11 Sep 2021

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Mon Aug 9 13:48:21 BST 2021

Topping the bill are festival favourites Merry 
Hell who will be complemented by an excellent 
line up of acts including Headsticks, Joe Solo, 
Ukepunk, the Corrie Shelley Band, Barnstormer 
1649, Bard Company, Brandon Lee Webb Band, 
Bathtub Gin Band, Rare Ould Times, Jimmy Andrex, 
Hadrian’s Union, The Quaintest Show on Earth, 
Lesley Dawson-Heath, Simon Williams, Jethro 
Platts, and Isaac Hughes-Dennis. Let’s also not 
forget Wigan’s own True Levellers Community Samba 
Band. Come and join us – it’s FREE to attend and always a great do!


The details of the various fringe events, 
including talks in Wigan Parish Church are yet to 
be finalised and will be advertised in due course.
Please share our Facebook page with your friends 
and let us know your coming at: 


Gerrard Winstanley & The Diggers


In 1630, a 21 year old textile trader moved to 
London. He did well at first, but as a result of 
the abuse of power by the both the King and 
Parliament and then the outbreak of the English 
Civil War which started twelve years later, he 
saw his business ruined and in 1643 he became bankrupt.

His father-in-law helped him move to Cobham in 
Surrey, where he initially worked as a cowherd.

However, by the time of the defeat of the 
Royalist side and King Charles execution in early 
1649, he and a group of others in a similar 
situation had got together to represent the voice 
of the common people, and especially that of the propertyless poor.

The man’s name was GERRARD WINSTANLEY.

He soon became the key spokesperson of the 
group  which the people living at the time 
referred to as ‘THE DIGGERS’, but who were also 
known as the ‘True Levellers’ as distinct from 
another group led by 
Overton and 
Walwyn known as ‘The Levellers’ who while seeking 
equality before the law, and an extension of the 
right to vote for most men, did not support the 
abolition of private property and common ownership of the land.

The Diggers ‘nickname’ came from their belief 
that the land should be available to every person 
to dig and sow, so that everyone, rich or poor, 
could live, grow and eat by the sweat of their 
own brows, as according to them “The earth was 
made to be a common treasury for all.”

THE DIGGERS also advocated absolute human 
equality including equality between men and women 
which in the 1600s was a very radical idea indeed.



Instead of simply voicing their opinion through 
the books and other papers GERRARD WINSTANLEY 
wrote, he and THE DIGGERS, who consisted of 
mainly poor families that had no land of their 
own (as land was only owned by the rich) decided 
to take direct action by taking over common land 
that belonged to no one, and which was not in 
use, and started to farm it, so as to allow 
everyone who worked the land to eat.

At first this went well, but unsurprisingly the 
ideas of THE DIGGERS were considered extremely 
dangerous by those with a vested interest in the 
preservation of privilege, property and power.

As more of these communities appeared rich land 
owners and the corrupt government sent soldiers 
(see drawing from the time depicting this below) 
to beat them, destroy their homes and crops and 
drive them off the land they were occupying.



Well, the simple answer to that is that GERRARD 
WINSTANLEY was born and raised in Wigan. It is 
also, from the earlier action of Wigan Clay and 
Coal ‘Diggers’ who established their right to dig 
up local common land for clay and coal, it is 
suggested by some Winstanley scholars, that he 
drew his inspiration for his own actions in 1649.

As well as being able to find out more about the 
life, ideas, and actions of this great Wiganer, 
we want to celebrate him and THE DIGGERS’ 
movement with a festival of live music, poetry, 
film, great beer, and most of all a re-born sense 
of community spirit amongst ordinary people everywhere.


movement was, and is, one of the most important 
parts of the English ‘Revolution’ of 1649.

This is recognized globally with GERRARD 
WINSTANLEY amongst those listed on a monument 
dedicated to ‘The great Socialist thinkers’ in Moscow, Russia.

We think Wigan should be proud to be the home of 
such an important historical figure, especially 
as he was the voice for so many ordinary people at the time.

“For freedom is the man that will turn the word 
upside down, no wonder he hath enemies”

Here’s a clip from the 1975 film ‘Winstanley’ by 
Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo. Pity about the 
anything but Wigan, and pretty ‘posh’ Southern 
accent, as well as mispronunciation of the man’s 
name (which should be pronounced Winstan-ley not 
Win-stanley) by Winstanley actor Miles Halliwell.


Gerrard Winstanley & The Diggers “One of the 
great stories of British history!” Michael Wood 
BBC’s The Great British Story: A People’s 
History: The Age of Revolution. Well worth a watch, starting at 41.32


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And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, 
he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and 
gave to them. 
<http://biblehub.com/luke/24-31.htm>31 And their 
eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he 
vanished out of their 
sight.  http://biblehub.com/kjv/luke/24.htm 
'Capitalism is institutionalised bribery' TG
"And I think, in the end, that is the best 
definition of journalism I have heard; to 
challenge authority - all authority - especially 
so when governments and politicians take us to 
war, when they have decided that they will kill and others will die. "
--Robert Fisk
Download, donation only, Tony's three watermarked 
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TG mobile +44 7786 952037

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