Several hundred people converged on the centre of the lovely town of Wigan to celebrate the life of local radical Gerrard Winstanley (1609-1676) and the Diggers' (True Leveller) Movement that he played a central role in establishing.
The Diggers supported the abolition of private property, common ownership of the land, and called for total human equality. They took direct action by occupying and collectively farming common land that didn't belong to anyone, so they could grow crops to feed their families. Naturally, the idea of poor folk taking over the land didn't go down too well with the wealthy and propertied ruling class who sent soldiers in to liquidate these early communist communities.
On offer at the Wigan Diggers' Festival was an array of poets, musicians, historians, re-enactors, political groups of various persuasions, book stalls, as well as a beer tent serving specially commisioned ‘Diggers 1649 Ale’ and 'Gerrard Winstanley Ale'. I was helping out on the SolFed stall with some members of the Manchester local, and had a very enjoyable day in the blazing sunshine making new contacts and selling some of our anarcho-syndicalist merchandise.
I've always had a soft spot for Wigan since I worked there a few years ago: good pubs, nice architecture, lots of character and heritage, great pie shops, and down-to-earth people. The event organisers did a great job putting together this radical history festival. Long may it (and the spirit of the Diggers) continue.