Tony Benn awarded first ‘Ged Winstanley Spade’

GedWinstanleysSpadeFollowing our second Festival, the Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee agreed to establish our own version of the Oscars and the Grammies, in the shape of an annual award bearing the name of Gerrard Winstanley.

We agreed to present it, ideally at our festival each year, to an individual or a group, in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the cause of making the Earth a common treasury for all, in the spirit of the Great Wiganer.

After discussing a number of possibilities including a ‘Star of Winstanley’ medal, we finally agreed on the obvious, and something wholly in keeping with Gerrard Winstanley’s digging activities in Surrey and elsewhere, in the shape of small brass spade, mounted along with an engraved plaque in a framed display case (see above left).

Tony Benn awarded first Ged Winstanley Spade

TonyBennHaving decided on what the award would look like and given it a name, our next task was to decide on who we might present our first one to.

It didn’t take us long to make that decision. We unanimously agreed to present the award to veteran left-winger and former Labour MP Tony Benn, someone who has himself described the 17th Century Diggers as the first ‘true Socialists’ – a view we ourselves concur with.

We have written to him already to inform him of the news and look forward to presenting it to him in person at our forthcoming festival on the 7th September.

Failing that, we look forward to presenting it to him at a time and place convenient him. Watch this space for details.

Feature article from Monday 27th May’s Wigan Evening Post

WEP Feature Article

3rd Diggers’ Fest confirmed for 7th September in The Wiend area.

cropped-wiendmontage1.jpgConfirmed yesterday, with Wigan’s Town Centre Manager, the gardens adjacent to The Wiend, containing the ‘Face of Wigan’ statue, and the forecourt of the new Wigan Life Centre (shown on left), unofficially renamed by us “Gerrard Winstanley Place”, will again be the site of this year’s 3rd WIGAN DIGGERS’ FESTIVAL which will take place on Saturday 7th September.

The planning of this year’s event is still in its early stages but PLEASE PUT THIS DATE IN YOUR DIARY NOW! See map below for exact location in Wigan town centre.


The FREE Annual Open Air Festival celebrates, via the medium of poetry, music and song, film and a range of other activities, the life and ideas of Wigan born and bred Gerrard Winstanley (1609-1676) and the 17th Century ‘Diggers’ movement he became the inspirational theorist and spokesperson of.

Also known as the ‘True Levellers’, the Diggers were one of the first truly egalitarian political movements of the poor and propertyless anywhere in the World, and the first to argue for full equality of men and women. Winstanley and they famously asserted: “The World was made a common treasury for all!”

Wigan Diggers Digging

Last year’s festival 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.

We are hopeful Attila and actor John Graham Davies, who played the part of Gerrard Winstanley, in a symbolic re-enactment of the digging and sowing (which gave the Digger’s their nickname) at St, George’s Hill near Weybridge in Surrey in 1649 (seen above), will perform once again at this year’s festival, along with some of the most popular acts from last year’s event, and some new and more well known ones as well.

Last year’s 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, both of which proved very popular and we are  hopeful will be available again this year.


In the meantime why not check out some of the many photos from last year’s event on our Festival Photos page: and on our Facebook page at: