The first ever Bob Tressell Festival was held on Merseyside yesterday (April 28).
The date chosen to celebrate the life of the man who wrote the classic labour movement book The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (RTP) was deliberately selected to tie in with International Workers Memorial Day.
“It is about linking up what happened in the Victorian and Edwardian eras with what the Tories are creating today, which is abject poverty, bad housing and the reduction of trade union rights,” said Merseyside TUC president Alec McFadden.
The afternoon began with a wreath laying at the pauper’s grave of Robert Noonan, who used his pen name of Tressell when writing, at Rice Lane Farm near Walton Prison.
The St Helens theatre group Costal Productions then superbly performed ‘The Great Money Trick’ scene from the RTP in which the book’s hero, Frank Owen, mocks capitalism and advocates a socialist system where work is for satisfying the needs of all rather than to generate profit for an elite. An appreciative audience gave all the actors a great round of applause at the end.
Earlier in the day, Ricky Tomlinson and Alan Gibbons had signed 200 copies of the RTP to be given away free in the ‘News from Nowhere’ bookshop and Liverpool Central Library.
At 6pm the documentary film STILL RAGGED was shown at the Small Cinema Victoria Street and that was followed by the Festival in the Adelphi Hotel with music from Alun Parry and Steve Smith.
The day was organised by the Bob Tressell Festival Committee with support from Merseyside TUC, the Unite 522 branch and the Tressell Association.
Judging by the numbers that attended all the events, it is certain that the Bob Tressell Festival will be back bigger and stronger next year.
- Pic by Mark Harvey