Wigan Diggers’ Festival 9th September 2023

Wigan Diggers’ are pleased to announce this year’s festival line-up. Sadly ‘The Wakes’ have had to pull out as headliner’s, due to a previous commitment to another event, regrettably this can’t be helped, due to the festival being cancelled last year, and the band having already committed to the other event. Hopefully we will have them back to play for us at some point.

This year’s headliners are the fantastic ‘Headsticks’, who have confirmed they will be headlining this year’s festival, see below for the full up to date festival band line-up…

Main Stage

McHale’s Permanent Brew
Jess Silk
Bard Company
Presentations/Shaun Fallows (front of main stage)
Commoners Choir
More Than Words
Carol Hodge Band
Fine Lines

Song and Story Stage

Steam Town
John D Revelator
Vision Thing
Stephen Smith
Poets (George Melling, Jimmy Andrex and Carla Mellor)
Cobalt Tales
Martin Purdey (Harp and Monkey)

Hopefully see you all on the 9th September.

Statement from Wigan Diggers’ committee

Greetings Diggers All,

As you can imagine, the Festival organising committee are deeply disappointed that the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has been followed by the cancellation of our Festival. This decision to cancel the festival was not ours to make, instead it has come about because Wigan Council were required to implement a protocol that has been in existence for many years (and all councils in the UK have similar protocols.). Believe Square is the area allocated for events required following the death of a monarch, the fact that it coincided with our festival is sheer bad luck and is no reflection on the attitude of the council to The Diggers, or Socialist events in general.

Following a meeting of the committee, it has been decided that the whole festival will be carried over to next year – so put the date Saturday, September 9th, 2023 in your diaries.

We would also like to thank the kindness of all those suppliers, stall holders and sponsors who have already pledged their support, either by refusing payment despite the late cancellation or maintaining the donations they have already made or promised.

Finally, we have suffered some losses and so we are planning a number of fund raising schemes and events running through to the next festival and we sincerely hope that you will also offer your support.

Let’s continue to be united in our quest to make the earth a common treasury for all.

Wigan Diggers

Wigan Diggers’ Festival Cancelled

Dear All,

Unfortunately, Wigan Council have taken a decision to cancel public events in the immediate future, including The Diggers Festival. We are sorry to share this news at what is undoubtably a sad time for so many. The place where the festival was supposed to be taking place will now be the focal point for official mourning within the borough.

At this stage we do not know what will happen to the festival, but we will update you as soon as we know.

We hope that you understand that all events and decisions connected with this are completely beyond our control.

All best wishes.

Wigan Diggers Committee

PS Whatever your feelings are about events, this is not the place to express them.

Bard Company and Wigan Diggers’ Festival Preview

Great pics by Tracy Walker from a great afternoon at Bard Company’s Wigan Diggers’ Festival preview HMV gig, with Vision Thing, Pete & Paul Cunliffe & co, Pauline Blackburn & Dave Gaskell and Rooster Rebellion – Colin & Gillian Barkley. Thank you, from the Wigan Diggers’ Festival committee to HMV Wigan, and all the musicians for playing, and all who came to watch. Special thank you to the members of Bard Company for organising this event.

What would Winstanley say we should do now?

In the midst of a continuing global Covid-19 pandemic (during Winstanley’s time it was the “Black Death”) climate crisis, worsening housing crisis, attacks on our right to protest, attacks on our health service, the cash for honours scandal and an increasingly corrupt Government additionally guilty of criminally negligent manslaughter. Also, the potential of Scotland voting for independence and lots of other problems facing us. Stephen Hall, one of the founders of the Diggers’ Festival, asks the question: “What would Winstanley say we should do now”? What might he call for in a 2021 version of “The Law of Freedom in a platform?” How might his writings and actions of 1648-52 guide us today? Starts at 12.15pm.

Stephen hopes to kick off a lively and fruitful discussion by the audience.

Click https://fb.me/e/YGZpJKYv for the Facebook Event page.

George Monbiot to receive Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award for 2021

Controversial Guardian columnist and environmental activist George Monbiot is to receive this year’s Diggers’ Festival “Gerrard Winstanley Spade” award for his ‘outstanding contribution’ to the cause of making the Earth a common treasury for all, in the spirit of the 17th Century Wiganer in whose memory the award is named. 

The award has previously been presented to the late veteran Labour MP Tony Benn, Film Director Ken Loach, Writer Jimmy McGovern and local actor-activist Maxine Peake. 

Our first Gerrard Winstanley Spade in 2013 was awarded to Tony Benn. In addition to everything else he did, he helped to populise Winstanley’s writings in his later life and described the 17th Century Diggers as England’s “first true socialists”. As Tony was too ill to travel to our festival to receive the award in person, and sadly died before we were able to formally present it to him, the Spade was later received by Tony’s son Hilary Benn (shown below) on behalf of Tony’s family.
Hilary Benn, Ken Loach, Maxine Peake & Jimmy McGovern

Homeless campaigner Pauline Town and ‘We Shall Overcome’ musician, activist and campaigner Joe Solo are two more recent recipients.

This year’s award is also presented in recognition of George Monbiot’s ongoing fight, as his own website states: against “environmental destruction, undemocratic power, corruption, deception of the public, injustice, inequality and the misallocation of resources, waste, denial, the libertarianism which grants freedom to the powerful at the expense of the powerless….” and more recently his powerful advocacy of the need to overthrow Capitalism to stop the impending climate catastrophe. (See clips below)

On 1 April 1999, on the 350th anniversary of Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers’ occupation, George Monbiot was famously involved in the organisation of  a rally and occupation of land at St. Georges Hill, near Weybridge, Surrey. (See Clip below)

George is absolutely delighted to be receiving the award, and had intended to be with us on Saturday to accept it in person. However, as he is now sadly unable to come to this year’s Festival, the Festival Committee will be organising a special event in Wigan later in the year to which George has agreed he will come to receive the award and additionally give us a talk on a subject yet to be decided. He has also agreed he will provide us with a short video for our social media platforms. Watch this space