2nd Wigan Diggers’ Fest – A Resounding Success

Wigan Diggers digging! Photo of the symbolic digging re-enactment which took place at this year’s Diggers’ Festival, close to The Face of Wigan statue.

Organisers are pleased to report that Saturday’s 2nd Diggers’ Fest in Wigan, celebrating locally born Gerrard Winstanley and Britain’s first Socialists, known as ‘The Diggers’, was a resounding success, with some of the best weather of the year helping to swell the crowd to around 2000 over the course of the day.

Attila The Stockbroker was top of a bill of 24 separate acts including two Socialist choirs, three top radical poets, three local bands, two duos and two professional actors. The Festival also included a film showing, exhibition, audio visual presentation, and a beer tent for which we commissioned our own Wigan brewed ‘Gerrard Winstanley’ and ‘Diggers 1649’ ales.

Actors James Quinn, John Graham Davies and Maxine Peake serving two locally brewed Gerrard Winstanley & Diggers’ 1649 traditional ales from behind the Bar of the Festival’s ‘OccuPie Wigan’ Beer tent.

John Graham Davies played the part of Gerrard Winstanley at a symbolic re-enactment of the digging at St. George’s Hill in Surrey in 1649 by Winstanley and his ‘True Leveller’ supporters, which gained them their nickname ‘The Diggers’, and where the name of the Festival comes from.

John Graham Davies playing the part of Winstanley. Explaining the work ‘The Diggers’ are going about, his monologue concludes with the famous quotation “Words and writing are all nothing and must die, for action is the life of all and if thous dost not act thou dost nothing”.

They famously proclaimed: “The Earth was made to be a common treasury for all, irrespective of person”.

They also called for universal suffrage, annual election and replacement of all officials, the abolition of private ownership and the “thieving art of buying and selling”, plus the establishment of a what in modern terms might be described as a vision of a truly democratic, ‘communistic’ ‘Commonwealth’ (as opposed to the sham Commonwealth of Cromwell).
In the one Winstanley advocated, everyone would be regarded as being equal and as members of the same family, and the principle of ‘each according to their ability, each according to their need’ would apply.

The Festival had a friendly concert in the park atmosphere assisted by the glorious afternoon sunshine.

The feedback the organisers have received both during and after the festival is tremendous, and ranges from “brilliant”, “great”, and “fantastic” to “the best day ever”.
Here are a just a few examples from our Facebook event page, there are many, many more:

 Abby Harrison

Yeah gr8 day. Gr8 weather. Great atmosphere. Can’t wait for the next one

 Bessie Smith

Well – what an absolutely BELTIN’ day! Fanbloodytastic from start to finish. Thanks so much to the committee and everyone who contributed to make it a proper day to remember. It really couldn’t have gone any better. Rarrr!!

It was wonderful – educational, informative, funny, loud and blessed with some of the nicest weather we’ve had this summer. Seriously well done to all the people who must’ve worked damn hard to make it happen 😀

What an absolutly brilliant day :)) beautiful weather topped off with great artists and friendly faces… fantastic :)) i look forward to next year

This was the best day ever,enjoyed every second and met up with some lovely people. Thank you to all involved x

What a fantastic day – loved every minute of this – stayed for the whole event

Had a fantastic day at the Wigan Diggers heres to many more like it 🙂

 Vinny Spencer

Fabulous day. Big well done and thank you to all the organisers that made it possible. Such an important event to commemorate, and what a great way to do it.

Here are some photographs from the day:

LINKS TO LOTS OF PHOTOS ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE at: https://www.facebook.com/WiganDiggersFestival

2nd Diggers’ Fest – Final Programme Unveiled

The final details of the programme of the 2nd Wigan Diggers’ Festival have been unveiled today. They outline a jammed packed day of live entertainment over two stages featuring 23 separate acts, a film showing, two audio visual presentations, a symbolic, part theatrical ‘digging re-enactment’ and tree planting ceremony, with a professional actor playing the part of Wigan born pioneer Socialist Gerrard Winstanley who along with the 17th Century Diggers’ movement he was the principal spokesperson of, is the main focus of the entire day’s festivies.

In addition to that, there will also be over 30 food, community, political and other stalls not least of which an ‘OccuPie Wigan’ beer tent offering two locally brewed special commemorative ales to Festival goers, namely Prospect’s Diggers 1649 Ale and Allgates’ Gerrard Winstanley Ale.

There will also be a town centre Diggers’ Parade, and a mass singing during the digging re-enactment, led by the Liverpool Socialist Singers, of the some say, Gerrard Winstanley penned “Diggers’ Song” and Leon Rosselson’s “A World Turned Upside Down”, made famous by Billy Bragg in the 1980s, all of which will take place in The Wiend area, in Wigan town centre between 11.30am and noon.


9.00am – 4.00pm – Wigan Life Centre North: DAY LONG EXHIBITION on Gerrard Winstanley & The Diggers

11.00am – 11.15am    Assemble for Diggers’ Parade outside John Bull Chophouse, The Wiend

11.15am – 11.30am    Diggers’ Town Centre Parade

11.35am – 11.45am   Digging and Sowing re-enactment in Millgate/The Wiend area. Actor John Graham Davies will play the part of Wigan born Diggers’ spokesperson Gerrard Winstanley during the re-enactment. Also, singing of “The Diggers’ Song” led by The Liverpool Socialist Singers.

11.45am – 11.46am     A minute’s silence for Gerrard Winstanley who died 336 years ago on Monday (10th September 1676)

11.47am – 12.oo noon    Tree planting ceremony. Short Gerrard Winstanley monologue by actor John Graham Davies. Singing of Leon Rosselson’s “A World Turned Upside Down” led by Liverpool Socialist Singers

12.00 noon – 12.15pm    Festival Intro by Stephen Hall on behalf of Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee

12.15pm – 12.45pm      STAGE ONE: GLASS HEADS – a guitar based four piece who hail from Wigan. They draw upon diverse influences ranging from Sex Pistols to dub reggae and hip hop to flamenco guitar!

12.30pm – 2.10pm   Wigan Life Centre North: “WINSTANLEY” Film Showing starring Mile Halliwell as Gerrard Winstanley & Jerome Willis as Lord Fairfax 

12.45pm – 12.50pm    Free-Lance Actor, Writer, Voice-Over Artist and Match Day Commentator at FC United of Manchester, JAMES QUINN plays Wiganer Jaz and recites a monologue especially written by local writer Julie McKiernan

12.50pm – 1.05pm    STAGE TWO: STEVEN DURRANT – an activist, singer and musician who performs with a piano accordion

1.00pm – 1.30pm   Wigan Life Centre North: GERRARD WINSTANLEY audio visual presentation by Derek Winstanley

1.05pm – 1.35pm    STAGE ONE: PAULINE BLACKBURN – is a singer/songwriter/acoustic guitarist from Wigan who has strong roots in the folk scene. She has a strong soulful voice and sings from the heart.

1.30pm – 2.00pm   Wigan Life Centre North: OPEN DISCUSSION on audio visual presentation, Gerrard Winstanley & The 17th Century Diggers’ (True Leveller) movement.

1.35pm – 1.40pm    Actor James Quinn plays Wiganer Jaz and recites a monologue especially written by local writer Julie McKiernan

1.40pm – 1.55pm    STAGE TWO: Dorothy Fryman & Monologue John Bartley aka Song & Story – Veteran Socialist Dorothy & ‘Keep the Change Bob” gave us an impromptu performance at last year’s festival with poems and songs written by Dorothy and her late husband. They went down a storm and are back this year.

1.55pm – 2.25pm   STAGE ONE: ALUN PARRY – is one of Liverpool’s leading acoustic performers and songwriters. He says on his Blog he’s proud to be playing at the festival, and so are we, as he’s also one of the North West’s foremost radical singers and entertainers.

2.25pm – 2.30pm    Actor James Quinn plays Wiganer Jaz and recites a monologue especially written by local writer Julie McKiernan

2.30pm – 2.45pm   STAGE TWO: SCOTTY HERTZ from Canada via Glasgow can regularly be found at picket lines and grassroots benefits or anywhere coffee fuelled acoustic punk is welcomed. Wants to organise a Diggers’ Festival in Canada.

2.30pm – 3.00pm   Wigan Life Centre North: GERRARD WINSTANLEY (REPEAT) audio visual presentation by Derek Winstanley

2.45pm – 3.00pm   STAGE ONE: MICHAEL BUCHANAN – is a radical Northants based poet and was a hit performer at this year’s Wellingborough Diggers’ Festival. We thought he was so good in fact we invited him to ours. We think you’ll like him!

3.00pm – 3.55pm   Wigan Life Centre North: OPEN DISCUSSION on audio visual presentation, Gerrard Winstanley & The 17th Century Diggers’ (True Leveller) movement.

3.00pm – 3.30pm   STAGE ONE: JOHN THE BAPTIST & THE 2ND COMING – Sure to be controversial “Prog Krautrock” blues band with smatterings of asteral jazz.

3.30pm – 3.45pm   STAGE TWO: MICHAEL BUCHANAN – 2nd slot for the top Northants poet.

3.45pm – 4.00pm   STAGE ONE: WELLINGBOROUGH DIGGERS – Guest speaker from the Northants Diggers’ Festival.

4.00pm – 4.30pm   STAGE ONE: CLAIRE MOONEY – Manchester based Claire Mooney was the most popular performer at last year’s Festival. She is a well known ‘mover and shaker amongst the North West’s LGBT scene’, and co-hosts BBC Radio Manchester’s LGBT show

4.30pm – 4.45pm   STAGE TWO: LAURA TAYLOR – has been writing and performing poetry for 2 years, and has finally found a space in which to air her grievances with authority. She describes herself as a proud Northerner, social misfit, and all-round shirker.

4.45pm – 5.00pm   STAGE ONE: SOLOMON SCRIBBLE – is a talented ‘performance poet’ who comes from Blackpool. He writes and performs garish pieces about popular culture, politics and his friends. Also covers topics as strange as wasps and boxers.

5.00pm – 5.30pm   STAGE ONE: THE DEAD SHORES – are a 4-piece rock band from Wigan. They are four likely Lancashire lads with a tremendous humour and an infectious sound. Their lyrics are laced with a working-class wit and edginess.

5.30pm – 5.45pm    STAGE TWO: PLANET AL – alias Alan Sinclair is a locally based acoustic singer/songwriter formerly with bands THC and The Volunteers. Mostly performs is own material which is likened to Neil Young & Roy Harper’s.

5.45pm – 6.15pm   STAGE ONE: BOB KETTLE – plays Guitar/Mandolin/Harmonica as a solo artist, and is an accomplished singer/songwriter. He is also a member of the folk-rock band ‘Merry Hell’, who are currently enjoying considerable success in the music world.

6.15pm – 6.30pm   STAGE TWO: CLASS ACTIONS – performed at our first festival and are a Salford based duo, renown for their aggressive dance/rap fusion and hard hitting social commentary. Their M 4 Maggie is always a favourite.

6.30pm – 6.45pm   STAGE ONE: KEN SCALLY – is a folk singer, songwriter, poet, playwright, author archaeologist, wigan rugby supporter, indian curry taster and cask conditioned bitter tester. He played at last year’s Festival and is back by popular demand this year.

6.45pm – 7.15pm   STAGE ONE: KIERAN DEVLIN – is Wigan based front man for Wallgate Circus. He performed at last year’s festival and is back at this year’s by popular demand.

7.15pm – 8.00pm   STAGE ONE: ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER – punk poet, and a folk punk musician and songwriter. He has performed over 2,700 concerts, including every Glastonbury Festival since 1983.


Gerrard Winstanley PowerPoint Animation by Derek Winstanley

Download the GW PowerPoint ANIMATION 7-12 by Derek Winstanley, which argues that Gerrard Winstanley:

* Is the most historically famous Wiganer of all time.

* Was the most radical thinker of the English Civil War & Commonwealth period, and of his entire generation.

* Was amongst the founders of modern day Socialist and Communist ideas and principles, which many say, have been subsequently distorted and corrupted.

* Was amongst the first to recognise the ecological interdependence of human beings and nature.

* His actions at St. George’s Hill in Surrey in 1649 were inspired by the earlier actions and success of Wigan clay and coal diggers in establishing their right to dig up common land so as to maintain their livelihoods, making Wigan, in Derek’s view, the inspirational home of ‘Socialism’ in general, via the development of Winstanley’s own views.

This latter contention is sure to be controversial. However, there a certainly very few if any of those who call themselves Socialists in the Wigan area, who are likely to come forward to challenge the idea.

18 Artists Confirmed for 2nd Diggers’ Fest



1. Go to 2nd Wigan Diggers Festival Event Page at https://www.facebook.com/events/357419037646439/ and click the Join button if you are going to attend. You may also wish to leave a positive comment on the event page wall whether you will be attending or not.

MOST OF ALL YOU CAN HELP BY CLICKING the ‘Invite friends’ button on the top right hand side of the event page and inviting ALL the Facebook friends you think appropriate to attend. Collectively we must have many thousands. If everyone did this, then we could reach potentially a few thousand people in no time.

Even a 5% percent positive response, would add to a few hundred more to the number attending, and the entire exercise is bound to generate greater general interest in the event on any account. You could also ‘share’ this same page on your own Facebook Wall or Timeline, several times between now and the Festival.

2. A few days later you could go to the following Wigan Diggers’ Festival Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WiganDiggersFestival and tick you ‘like’ it. You could also ‘share’ the page on your own Facebook Wall or Timeline. Might also be handy to click that you ‘like’ some of the posts, comments, and photos, etc, and perhaps even post something yourself.

3. You could also pay a visit to our new Wigan Diggers’ Festival website at: https://wigandiggersfestival.org/. Whilst there you could: click the ‘follow blog by e-mail button’. You could also ‘share’ the Home page or one of the other pages on your Facebook Wall or Timeline. (You can do this by clicking the Facebook item near to the bottom of every page, or by pasting the URL into your status update box on your Facebook Wall or Timeline. You might also paste the url on the Wall/Timeline of some of your friends with the words, ‘fancy coming to this?”)


You could post any of the above URLs (especially the website/blog) on other websites especially those with event listings or maybe of a related nature. If everyone of our supporters did only half a dozen of such posts (they shouldn’t worry about duplicating the posts of others) then this would extend our online reach tremendously. The same goes for posting links on other Facebook pages and potentially sympathetic Facebook group walls.

As more details are finalised everyone could also post appropriate updates.
When our main promotional leaflet/poster is finalised everyone could help the cause by circulating an electronic copy by e-mail to their appropriate e-mail contacts.

They can also help the common effort by taking say 20 or more posters each to put up in prominent places in their own localities as well as to distribute on their tours. The more posters we put out, the more likely we are to draw a crowd. If you need some posting to you then get in touch with us by e-mail via stevechik@talktalk.net

We will obviously be making a big push with the local TV, radio and press.

You can also spread the word by mouth and if there are enough of you arrange your own local collective transport to the event. Groups have already indicated that are coming from as far a field as London, Glasgow & Wellingborough to the Festival, and came from all over the North of England to last year’s. Others are coming even farther from such places as Canada & the USA.