6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – A resounding success!

Quite definitely our biggest and best so far, this year’s Wigan Diggers’ Festival was a resounding success. Here are some photos of the day’s proceeding (courtesy of Al Balmer) which saw our best ever line up of live entertainment, five excellent educational talks, two puppet shows, over 60 stalls and a terrific speech from this year’s Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award recipient, veteran Socialist fim director Ken Loach (see below). The weather, food and beer were pretty good too.

Lots more photos on our Facebook Page.

Video of Ken Loach speaking at the Festival. What a brilliant speech.

More photos and video clips to follow.


6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – Saturday 10th September 2016 – Final Programme Announced



Come & enjoy our best ever line up of live entertainment.

More educational talks – lots of new stalls – more stuff for the kids – and a presentation to Ken Loach

Here are the final details of the programme for this year’s Wigan Diggers’ Festival, which coincides with the 340th Anniversary of the death of Gerrard Winstanley, the Wigan born leader of 17th century radical movement known as “The Diggers“, who were referred to by the late Tony Benn, as the “first true socialists“.







This year’s main festival sponsors are HeinzBranchStampA big thanks to them, plus to all our many other trades union branch and regional sponsors, stall holders, artists, speakers and festival volunteers for making our annual FREE to the public event to celebrate Gerrard Winstanley & The Diggers possible.

Facebook Event Page:




is film director, campaigner and lifelong socialist KEN LOACH

Loach   GedWinstanleysSpadeSmall   IMG_1844

Ken will receive his “outstanding contribution to the Diggers’ cause” award at around 1.00pm from previous winners Maxine Peake (2014) & Jimmy McGovern (2015) on behalf of the Festival Committee.

TonyBennTolpuddle  Tony Benn was the first recipient of the award in 2013.

6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – More about this year’s performers.


Diggers’ Festival – Site Map & Stall Location, etc

WDF6 Site Map


Wigan Diggers' Festival Site Map

The Diggers’ Festival site (A) is less than 5 minutes walk from Wigan Bus Station (between Market Street & Hallgate) and both of the town’s railway stations. Turn left out of Wallgate station, right out of Wigan North Western.

The best place to park your car (if you’re coming by car) is in the multi-storey car park on Wallgate immediately adjacent (left hand side looking from front) to Wigan North Western railway station. It’s only £3 all day and again less than 5 minutes walk away from our main festival site.



It’s packed with background info about The Diggers, Levellers and OUR LOCAL HERO Gerrard Winstanley, also about how to get involved.

Here are a few extracts. You can view the entire brochure at: New – 6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival Commemorative Brochure










6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – Saturday 10th September 2016 – IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Scene from stage during Merry Hell's performance at last year's Diggers' Festival.
Scene from the stage during Merry Hell’s performance at the 2014 Diggers’ Festival.

Calling all politically progressive bands and performers! Have you got what it takes to perform at this year’s Digger’s Festival?

If you think you have, then our music & entertainment committee would like to hear from you. Just download the application form, fill it in, and e-mail it back to us via: diggersstageentertainment@gmail.com

Closing date: 1st April 2016

Application for playing at Wigan Diggers Festival 2016

Want to put on a stall at this year’s Festival? Then here’s the 2016 Stallholders’ Application Form

We are now taking stall applications for the Wigan Diggers’ Festival 2016. The number of pitches available is limited, so please please send your completed application form, and a cheque for the appropriate amount, as early as possible to avoid disappointment. All cheques payable to Wigan Diggers’ Festival.

You will hear if your application was successful by no later than 31st July


Want to Volunteer to help out before, and/or on the day?

Every year we need rafts of volunteers to help out with a variety jobs and roles, both before, and on the day of the festival itself, and this year will obviously be no exception. If you can help out any time during FRIDAY 9th SEPTEMBER 2016 when we will be erecting our Marquees, Beer Tent, and preparing the entire festival site, and/or alternatively are prepared to help out for AT LEAST FOUR HOURS on the day of the festival on SATURDAY 10th SEPTEMBER 2016 as a festival steward, or in helping to staff our stall, running errands, as a first aider, or working behind the bar, then you should message us via our Facebook page Wigan Diggers’ Festival stating in what capacity you’d like to help, and on what days and times, and we’ll get back to you.

If you’d like to help out a lot more than that and become a member of our growing, and welcoming Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee then why not come and join us every 3rd Monday of the month, in the private meeting room of The Anvil pub, Dorning Street, Wigan. 7.30pm k.o.

Another Big Crowd Enjoy 5th Bumper Festival –

Here’s the first batch of photos by Al Balmer, from Saturday’s big do. Despite the showers earlier on, the weather improved throughout the day and the Festival was another resounding success. More photos to follow.

5th Wigan Diggers’ Festival Programme Announced – It’s going to be a cracker!

Scene from the stage during Merry Hell's performance at last year's Diggers' Festival. They're our headline act this year, and on our main stage at 8.30pm.

Scene from the stage during Merry Hell’s performance at last year’s Diggers’ Festival. They’re our headline act this year, and on our main stage at 8.30pm.

5th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – Saturday 12th September – The Wiend – Wigan – WN1 1PF

It’s been a year in the making and here it is, this year’s Wigan Diggers’ Festival programme. It’s our fullest day of activies ever, and has something for everyone.

10.30 am – 11.00 am Wigan Parish Church bells will ring, as a prelude to the festival to celebrate the radical Wiganer Gerrard Winstanley who was baptised at the church in 1609, and went on to become the founder, inspirational theorist and spokesperson of the radical ‘True Leveller’ movement, better known as ”The Diggers”,  during the 17th century ‘Commonwealth’ period.

11.00 am
– 11.15 am – The Wiend – Official unveilling of a new Gerrard Winstanley sandstone mounted plaque to mark Wigan Council’s re-naming of the garden area of our festival site “Gerrard Winstanley Gardens”. The renaming of the area, is in recognition of the Wigan born radical thinker and activist, whose role in the history of the common people of this country, and for equality and social justice throughout the World, we commemorate each year at our festival. His and the Diggers’ vision of the Earth as “a common treasury for all”, of full equality, and of fellowship, community and love for one another, quite definitely linger on…..and provides us with inspiration and hope, for a better future for all humankind, everywhere.

Gerrard Winstanley Plaque

The impressive sandstone mounted plaque, in recognition of Gerrard Winstanley, has been kindly donated by Wigan Councillor Lawrence Hunt, and will be officially unveiled by ex-Wigan TUC Secretary Mike Farley.

11.15 am – 11.35 am – Diggers’ Festival Town Centre Parade led by Gerrard Winstanley actor Brendan Delaney and members of Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee (form up on The Wiend for a short walk around town).

Wigan Diggers' Festival parade

Scene from last year’s town centre Diggers’ Parade.

11.35 am – 11.55 am – St. Geoge’s Hill 1649 Digging Re-enactment in Gerrard Winstanley Gardens (close to The Face of Wigan statue) during which our guest actor Brendan Delaney will play the role of Gerrard Winstanley, and repeat some of his famous words from April 1649. He will be accompanied by members of the Bolton Clarion Socialist Choir who will lead the singing of Winstanley’s “Diggers’ Song” and “The World Turned Upside Down” by Leon Rosselson, a song which tells the story of The Diggers, made famous by Billy Bragg.

12.00 noon – 9.30 pm OCCUPIE WIGAN BEER TENT (sponsored by Walkers Union Solicitors) OPENS + MAIN STAGE ANNOUNCEMENTS

Scene from last year's Occupie Wigan Beer.

Scene from last year’s ‘Occupie Wigan’ Beer Tent.

12.05 pm to 12.45 pm – On our MAIN STAGE – Live Band: VISION THING (see: https://soundcloud.com/visionthingband)

12.15 pm to 1.15 pm – In our Arts & Culture Marquee in Gerrard Winstanley Gardens (for age range 8 years plus)England’s most prolific writer of murder mystery plays Chris Martin, reads from his debut novel. There will be dressing up and much fun to have in solving this case!

12.30 pm to 1.00 pm – At Little Fifteen, Wallgate (approx 150 yards from main festival site opposite the Post Office – over 18s only) – John Winstanley (author of Unsigned & Unscene) will give a talk about who Gerrard Winstanley was, and what inspired him to do what he did with anAn introduction to Winstanley & Radicalism” – Words by John Gurney (RIP) & Derek Winstanley.

12.40 pm to 13.05 pm – On the Dorothy Fryman Song & Story Stage – Solo Artist: JENNIFER REID

1.00 pm to 2.00 pm – At Little Fifteen, Wallgate (opposite the Post Office) – “The Diggers and the English Revolution” a talk by Ian Brooke (who will be dressed for the part). Ian explains the creation of The Diggers in the context of the huge popular revolution that shook England in the 1640s. He outlines the movement of civil disobedience which amounted to a national uprising, that began a train of events, resulting in the overthrow of the monarchy in 1649.

1.05 pm to 1.15 pm – On our MAIN STAGE – 2015 Gerrard Winstanley ‘Spade’ Award presentation to Liverpool screen writer, producer and film maker Jimmy McGovern.

Jimmy McGovern to received 2015 Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award

Included amongst Jimmy McGovern’s works, are the dramatisation of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, 1995-98 Liverpool Dockers’ Strike, the events of Bloody Sunday, and a recent BBC film on the controversial Joint Enterprise Law.

1.15 pm to 1.55 pm – ON OUR MAIN STAGE – Live Band: VICTORIAN DAD (see: https://youtu.be/rJMZgPOYtz4)

1.15 pm to 2.15 pm – In our Arts & Culture Marquee in Gerrard Winstanley Gardens (for age range 10 years plus) – Children’s author Su Ainsworth reads from her debut book “Drabacus” about holiday pals Susan, Dean, Pauline and Michael who are propelled into an adventure when they discover a secret lift in their hotel. Can they solve a 64 year mystery while avoiding a bizarre character and his power which reaches across time?

1.55 pm to 2.20 pm – On the Dorothy Fryman Song & Story Stage – Solo Artist: JAMIE WOODING (see: https://youtu.be/GWefO7p0W6k)

2.00 pm to 2.20 pm – Diggers’ Parade accompanied Greenall’s Brass Band (form up on outside the John Bull Chophouse for a second short walk around town).

2.00 pm to 2.30 pm – In our Arts & Culture Marquee area in Gerrard Winstanley Gardens (for age range 7 plus) – ZAZOU PUPPET THEATRE present: “The story of the Diggers”

2.00 pm to 2.30 pm – At Little Fifteen, Wallgate (opposite the Post Office) Katharine Ann Angel (author of “Being Forgotten” & “The Froggitt Chain”) will give the first public readings from her new novel “The Burglar’s Baby“Social responsibilities & the decline in human welfare” and provide personal anecdotes about tutoring excluded youths, fostering teens and housing the disadvantaged.

Incidental acoustic folk music will be provided by Dean Lane at the Little Fifteen

2.20 pm to 3.00 pm – On our MAIN STAGE: Live Band: BIGFOOT (see: https://youtu.be/alC1eARLLdE)

2.30 pm to 3.45 pm – At Little Fifteen, Wallgate (opposite the Post Office) Chris Coats & Catriona Stamp present “A Season ticket to the Promised Land” – Based on material from Utopia Britannica & Communes Britannica. Come on a journey from St. Georges Hill in 1649 to Hyde Park in 1969. Meet the Diggers through the ages from Gerrard Winstanley to “King of the Hippes” Sid Rawle. “Win” a Chartist Land Settlement cottage and hear the outcome of Operation Tolstory! WARNING! May include songs, poetry, readings, film clips & FUN!

3.00 pm to 3.25 pm – On the Dorothy Fryman Song & Story Stage – Solo Artist: STEVE COOKE (see: https://soundcloud.com/stevecooke)

JigsawTwo Little DiggersLittleDiggers Zazou Theatre
Wigan Diggers’ Festival is a great day out for little Diggers. We’ve got a Puppet Show, face painting, balloons, circus performers and lots of other entertaining and educational stuff for kids to get involved with.

3.25 pm to 4.05 pm – On our MAIN STAGE – Live Band: BUG (see: http://www.bugpunk.co.uk/)

3.30 pm to 4.30 pm – In our Arts & Culture Marquee in Gerrard Winstanley Gardens (for age range 6 years plus) – “The Great Snail Race of Toadflax Hall” will come to life as children are invited to colour in pictures from the book while its author Lynne Taylor tells you all about them.

3.45 pm to 4.45pm – At Little Fifteen, Wallgate (opposite the Post Office) – Poet, writer, chef, former gravedigger and exhumer with personal experience of autism, epilepsy & osteoporosis, Peter Street asks: “Work for the working class does it really pay?”

Scene from the 2014 Diggers' Festival

There will be over 50 stalls at this year’s festival – providing hot food, books, arts and craft products, also for our performers merchandise, local credit union, various campaign and community groups, trades unions and political organisations. See this year’s Festival Site Map for full details.

4.05 pm to 4.20 pm – On the Dorothy Fryman Song & Story Stage – POET: IAN WHITELEY (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=troq7cpEibY)

4.25 pm to 4.50 pm – On our MAIN STAGE – Solo Artist: AVITAL RAZ (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vblOkce-wPE)

4.55 pm to 5.20pmOn the Dorothy Fryman Song & Story Stage – DUO: ROADY TO POPPYVILLE (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiy6XAYAOPY)

5.20 pm to 6.00 pm – On our MAIN STAGE – Live Band: JOHN THE BAPTIST & THE 2nd COMING (see: https://youtu.be/MWVTkgMwFrM)

6.00 pm to 6.25 pm – On the Dorothy Fryman Song & Story Stage – DUO: BAD CARDIGAN (see: https://youtu.be/-7AsqrpzHic)

6.25 pm to 7.05 pm – On our MAIN STAGE – Live Band: THE HURRIERS (see: https://youtu.be/XtnEBHWKpaQ)

7.05 pm to 7.20 pm – On the Dorothy Fryman Song & Story Stage – Comic Poet: GORDON ZOLA (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UMK9g4tRf4)

2015 Wigan Diggers' Festival Commemorative Poster

2015 Wigan Diggers’ Festival Commemorative Poster

7.20 pm to 8.00 pm – On our MAIN STAGE – LIVE BAND: HEADSTICKS 

8.00 pm to 8.25 pm – On the Dorothy Fryman Song & Story Stage – Solo Artist: JOE SOLO (see: https://youtu.be/rqfomuTNJsY)

8.30 pm to 9.30 pm – On our MAIN STAGE – Live Band: MERRY HELL


This year’s festival will also play its part in the National Day of Action in solidarity with refugees everywhere, and a banner saying: REFUGEES ARE WELCOME HERE will adorn our MAIN STAGE throughout the festival. A solidarity message from our festival will also be read out at the day of action’s national demonstration in London which concludes at Downing Street.

This REFUGEES WELCOME banner will be one of our two stage banners on Saturday

This REFUGEES WELCOME banner will be one of our two stage banners on Saturday

LATE NEWS: Throughout the afternoon Anteros Theatre Company will be performing the opening scenes from the play ‘The Digger’s Daughter’ – a historically inspired time travelling adventure – by Jonathan Kemp in Market Place (located at the bottom of The Wiend) as a taster for the full adaptation of the play to be staged next year. Our replacement Gerrard Winstanley actor, Brendan Delaney will be digging hard!”

Astral Circus Performers will also be on site to entertain us throughout the day.

FESTIVAL SITE MAP & STALL HOLDERS INFORMATIONNOTE: All stallholders are asked to be on site and have your stalls set up by no later than 10.30am on Saturday morning. You are also required to report to our Diggers HQ on arrival, and before setting up your stall . If you haven’t already paid us, you will also be expected to pay us any monies owed BEFORE you set up.

WDF5 Site MapCALL OUT for VOLUNTEERS: Although we’ve already got a pretty big team of festival volunteers, WE STILL NEED MORE VOLUNTEERS TO HELP WITH A RANGE OF JOBS – from preparing the site and erecting Gazebos, and regulating vehicle access to the festival site (from 8.00am to 10.30am on Saturday morning), to site stewarding (all day), to waste control, to town centre parade stewarding (between 11.00am and 11.45am, and 1.45pm and 2.30pm) as well as after 6.00pm until 10.00pm behind the bar, serving drinks and clearing up at the end.

If you can help out then please e-mail: stevechik@talktalk.net or call 07724 139278 (this number is for volunteers only) and ask for Stephen. Alternatively, visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WiganDiggersFestival and click our CALL TO ACTION button, and then follow the instructions.

For all other enquiries, including to do with accommodation, please call or e-mail:

Janet (Secretary of the Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee) on 07539 087134 e-mail: jpsingstheblues@yahoo.co.uk
Vicky (Chair of the Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee) on 07986 129 877 e-mail: v.perry@hotmail.co.uk

Invitation to our Bolton ‘Warm-up’ Bash

An invitation to our now customary Wigan Diggers’ Festival warm up bash in Bolton (It was flaming roasting last year never mind warm!) This is a free event, and everyone is welcome!

Wigan Diggers' Bolton Bash

Poster artwork for this year’s Wigan Diggers’ Bolton Bash

We have a great line up (we will post running order later) – Mugshot Alley, Bard Company, Eliza P Singer, Nat Clare, Petrova C Fairhurst, Paul Blackburn, Darren Lea-Grime, Steve O’Donoghue, Kindred Spirit, Christopher Bainbridge, Fade (David Lockley & Steve Brown), Tony Kasazkaja, Jodie Smith-Richardson, Holly Jenkinson, Eva Curless, Andy Nicholson, John Howard Reeves, Shirley-Anne Kennedy, Terry Kinney, Bolton Clarion Choir. 

There will also be a range of stalls, raffle, real ale, diggers’ t-shirts and books.

Jefferama and Bard Company are hosting the event with our friends at Bolton Socialist Club, thanks for your support everyone, performers and audience alike!

Facebook event page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/106833849665962/