Tolpuddle Pilgrimage

by Edd Baldry

The Tolpuddle Pilgrimage (July, 2014) is a victory walk that celebrates the history of those famous Dorset farm workers and connects it with a new co-operative food system that has started to emerge over the last decade in South West England. In 1834, farm workers from Tolpuddle joined others in west Dorset to organise against their worsening conditions and pay cuts. Six of them were sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. They eventually became known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The walking festival begins on the steps of Plymouth Harbour, where the Martyrs returned after a three year campaign involving mass protest and a 800,000 signature petition—leading to a pardon from the government. 

We made our way along access paths through co-operative farms, transition initiatives and community projects to arrive in Dorset at the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival. 

We crowdsourced many of the events along the pilgrimage so we could support relevant initiatives and local campaigns—whether it is new farms that need a work day, a living wage campaign that needs promotion or a fundraiser to pay for new equipment for a community kitchen. We are inviting anyone who wants to support building these new communities to join us on the trail—because as Robert Macfarlane says, “It’s hard to create a footpath on your own.”

The Tolpuddle Pilgrimage was led by Jonny Gordon-Farleigh, editor of STIR Magazine.

If you're interested in being part of a future Tolpuddle Pilgrimage, let us know.