Joe Solo to receive 2018 Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award

JoeSoloEACH year the Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee presents a Gerrard Winstanley Spade award to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the socialist cause. Previous winners include Tony Benn, Ken Loach, Maxine Peake and Jimmy McGovern. This year the Diggers’ Festival Committee have decided that the socialist singer/ songwriter Joe Solo receive the award. Through his music and dedication to helping others, Joe works tirelessly across the nation and in the Committee’s opinion undoubtedly deserves it.

Joe Solo is an award-winning musician, writer, poet, activist, broadcaster and washing machine engineer from Scarborough. His musical career began in 1987 and has seen him play seven countries either as lynchpin of pop-punk upstarts Lithium Joe or hammering out his unique brand of Folk, Punk and Blues supporting great causes along the way such as the miners, the International Brigade, Hope not Hate and many homeless charities.

On top of releasing fifteen albums since 2004 most inspired by socialist causes, Solo has written books and had them written about him; runs a research project on the Hull Pals Battalions in the First World War; has worked with underprivileged children to help them write their lives in song; hosts a weekly radio show; and still found time to open for the likes of David Rovics, Attila the Stockbroker, Otis Gibbs, Robb Johnson, Edgar Broughton, TV Smith, Paul Simmonds, Emily Portman, Pete Wylie, The Blockheads and Billy Bragg; whilst his songs have been played by John Peel on BBC Radio One, Mike Harding on BBC Radio Two and Tom Robinson on
BBC 6 Music.

In May 2015 Joe helped create WE SHALL OVERCOME, a campaign pushing for a positive response from the music community to the poverty and hardship inflicted on ordinary people by the Government’s austerity program. Since October 2015 the movement has organised more than 700 gigs in 142 towns and cities across 9 countries on 3 continents raising an estimated £350,000 in cash, food, clothing and bedding for those hardest hit. WSO scooped the ‘People’s Choice’ gong at the annual Yorkshire Grassroots Music Awards, and on the back of his efforts The Morning Star named Solo ‘Human Being of the Year’.

In October 2016 Joe was awarded the ‘Outstanding Songwriting’ prize at Yorkshire Gig Guide Grassroots Music Awards for his work on the album ‘Never Be Defeated’ telling the stories of the men and women of Hatfield during the 1984-85 Miner’s Strike; and their song together – ‘Merry Christmas From Hatfield Main’ – raised much-needed cash for a Hardship Fund set up to help those struggling in the former pit communities of South Yorkshire. Just before Christmas 2016 they performed it on stage together with a very special guest, none other than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

After 30 years of writing and gigging, Joe made his Glastonbury debut in June 2017, taking to the Leftfield stage a skip in his step and a tear in his eye. As he said later: “It only took 30 years! Imagine what I could do in another 30!”

It is with great pride that Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee awards this years’ Gerrard Winstanley Spade to Joe Solo.

Wigan Diggers’ Speakers’ Corner


An opportunity to let Wiganers know what you’re about in word or song!

This year’s festival will once again feature a third ‘Speakers’ Corner’ stage at the top of Millgate in Wigan town centre, where festival stall holders, individuals and other supportive organisations will have the opportunity to let the packed crowd of Wiganers at this year’s Food Festival and many hundreds of other passers by know what they are about in either word or song.

The first session of our Speakers’ Corner will kick off at 10.00am and finish at 11.30am to coincide with the Festival’s symbolic ‘digging re-enactment’ in Gerrard Winstanley Gardens and the official festival opening.

The second session will start at 12.15pm and last until 3.00pm

As time is limited and we may have as many as 30 organisations alone wanting to speak (5 minute slots) along with poets and other solo performers in between, we are asking everyone who wants to take up the opportunity of speaking/performing to contact us as soon as possible so we can allocate them a time slot in one or other of the two sessions. Unless a specific time is asked for, all timings will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

E-mail: with your preferred start time.

Ye noble Diggers all stand up now, stand up now! We need your help!

Join our team of volunteers at this year’s festival

Wigan Diggers' Festival Volunteers

Just a few of the volunteers who help to make sure that the Festival takes place each year.

As every year our festival has got bigger, so the demands on the festival committee and our fantastic team of volunteers who help out on the day has grown with it. This year promises to be no different, with a host of jobs that need doing not only on the day of the festival itself, but also in preparing the site on Friday and clearing everything away on Sunday.

If you can help in any way, and we really do need it, especially from 8.00am on Saturday morning as stall holders arrive and right through to 10.00pm in the evening then please download this Excel spreadsheet and return it to us a.s.a.p.

If you can’t open the file then just e-mail us as your details and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.


Please fill in the times you are prepared to volunteer and in what capacity (e.g. Saturday 8th Bar Staff 12.00pm – 4.00pm and/or Sunday 9th Site Clear Up 10.00am – 2.00pm )
If you agree to volunteer for a minimum of 4 HOURS then you will receive £10 Food/Beer Tokens PLUS a FREE festival T-SHIRT.
Send your completed spreadsheet to (cc

The spreadsheet is easy to fill in and looks like this: (Your data will remain confidential)




Thanking you in anticipation of your support.

Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee


22 Live Acts at this year’s Diggers’ Bolton Bash


Wigan Diggers’ Festival organisers extend a warm welcome to all socialists and other working class radicals to come and join us at this year’s FREE Promo Gig at Bolton Socialist Club, Wood Street on Saturday 28th July from 3.00pm onwards

The 22 Live performers include:

Woski, Nat Clare, Claire Mooney, Dave Puller, Flynn Murnan,
Paul Blackburn, Dean Lane, Pauline Blackburn, Gordon Zola,
Crows of Albion, Dave Morgan, Carol Robson, Simon Widdop,
Pete Stevenson, Eve of Destruction, The Nearly Dead Poets,
Dwane Reads, Lee Harrison, Andy N, John Wilmington, Amanda Steele & host Jeffarama.

Come join us at the Socialist Club for a fun packed day of live music and poetry to help celebrate the radical 17th Century “Diggers” movement, who were described by Tony Benn as “the first true Socialists”.

Facebook Event Page:

Much more than digging….much more than a music fest!

IMG_0958Much more than digging …… much more than a music fest!

The Blockheads, Merry Hell and Barnstormer 1649 (featuring Attila The Stockbroker) will top the bill at this year’s festival commemorating the locally born pioneer socialist thinker and 17th century Diggers’ movement leader Gerrard Winstanley.

Our 8th annual FREE festival also features a fantastic line up of other acts over two stages including:

The Commoners’ Choir, Joe Solo, Bard Company, Patrick McKenzie, The Amber List, Gerry Ffrench, T E Yates, Jupiter Hollow Blues Band, Rare Oul’ Times, Joe Astley, Brandon Lee Webb Band and Eliza P & The Disco Misfits.

The event will start as traditionally with a symbolic digging re-enactment in Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, with guest actor Brendan Delaney playing the role of the Wigan born radical, who repeats some of his famous words from April 1649.

As on previous occasions 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.

There will also be a range of other activities including entertainment for children, the details of which have yet to be finalised. Watch out for updates in the coming weeks including details of the various educational talks and guest appearances at this year’s festival.

Please help us publicise this year’s event by sharing this post on social media. Copies of this year’s festival flyer are also available for distribution at your workplace, union branch or in your locality. Please e-mail: for copies if you’d like some.


Wigan Diggers’ Festival 2018 Stall Application

IMG_0297We are now taking stall applications for the Wigan Diggers’ Festival 2018. 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.

NOTE: Unlike last year, pitches will be clearly marked and provided on a first come first served basis.

You will hear if your application is successful a.s.a.p. and no later than by 31st July.


Calling all Musicians & Other Artists + 2018 Diggers’ Festival Announcements



will take place on


If you’re a musician or other artist and  would like to perform at it then here’s a link to the application form to do so.

All applications will be viewed by the members of the stage entertainment committee who all have an equal vote as to who will be invited to perform at the festival.
All acts selected will be offered reasonable expenses and additionally provided with vouchers to obtain food and drink on the day.

The form should be downloaded, filled in and then emailed to (address provided on form) no later than 15th February 2018, which is the deadline for all applications.

Members of the stage entertainment committee will not enter into individual correspondence with applicants, however, the committee will aim to notify all successful applicants by the 1st of April 2018.