Tolpuddle Martyrs

Once when I was a tax accountant, a colleague who was around about the same age, told me that I would vote Conservative ‘when I grew up’. Ha! Perhaps that’s why I remain young at heart. It hasn’t happened yet. Maybe those left-ish leanings can be traced back to a 70’s episode of ‘Blue Peter’  where I learned about the Tolpuddle Martyrs, a group of six agricultural labourers from Dorset who were transported to Australia for forming a union, an action prompted by the lowering of their weekly wages from ten shillings a week to six. It lead to a large scale working class protest.

The plight of the six was the inspiration for the formation of modern day unions.   There’ now a museum in the village of Tolpuddle in their memory. It’s on my wish list of places to visit. The village has a annual commemorative festival too. Does it surprise anyone that my old favourite, Billy Bragg, is playing there this year?

I first came across this plate in a charity shop on a lunchtime stroll in Totnes when I worked there.  It was being sold for a fiver.  Then in the weeks afterwards I kept kicking myself for not buying it.  It was commissioned by the Trade Unions Congress to mark the 150th anniversary of the transportation of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.  I particularly liked the oh so retro colour scheme as well as the sentiment.  Thanks to good old Ebay I bought one of my own albeit for more than five pounds. I’ve done a quick search of the site and they’re still available. There were commemorative mugs produced at the same time too. I’ve had my plate for a few years now. It’s a treasured possession that takes pride of place on my living room Mad Wall.

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