In the 1830s life in villages like Tolpuddle was hard and getting worse. Farm workers could not bear yet more cuts to their pay. Some fought back by smashing the new threshing machines but this brought harsh punishments.
In 1834, farm workers in west Dorset formed a trade union. Unions were lawful and growing fast but six leaders of the union were arrested and sentenced to seven years’ transportation for taking an oath of secrecy. A massive protest swept across the country. Thousands of people marched through London and many more organised petitions and protest meetings to demand their freedom.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum tells the harrowing tale of the Martyrs arrest, trial and punishment, leading to the foundation of modern day trade unionism.
Friday 19 July 2019
Tolpuddle, near Dorchester, Dorset
This annual festival where thousands of people come together to celebrate trade unionism and remember the role of the Tolpuddle Martyrs offers a full programme of traditional and contemporary music and other attractions. This year the festival runs from Friday 19 July to Sunday 21 July 2019. Find out more from the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, Tolpuddle, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 7EH or call 01305 848237.