GMB Makes Donation To Renovation Of Former Methodist Chapel In Tolpuddle
The solidarity shown by the trade union movement which led to the martyrs being pardoned shows the true power of working people says GMB.
Following a great turnout of GMB members at the Tolpuddle Festival this year and the friendly welcome received from the Tolpuddle locals, GMB has made a donation of £700 towards the renovation of the Former Methodist Chapel in this historic village in Dorset.
Tolpuddle village has played a major role in British trade union history. In 1834 six farm labourers were arrested and charged with swearing an illegal oath. However, their real crime in the eyes of the establishment was forming a trade union to fight against their 3rd pay cut in 3 years and their meager earnings of 6 shillings a week (less that 30p per day in today’s money).
The Tolpuddle Martyrs, as they came to be known, were consequently transported to Australia. After 3 years of trade unions campaigning for their return, including a petition signed by 800,000 people who signed for their return, the government relented and the farm labourers returned with free pardons and as heroes.
At least 4 of the Tolpuddle Martyrs worshipped at the Methodist chapel in Tolpuddle and 3 of them may also have preached there. A direct link has been established with 2 of the Martyrs, Thomas Standfield and George Loveless, who were involved in the provision of the site and the building of the former chapel.
Paul Maloney, GMB regional secretary, said “GMB are delighted to support the work of Tolpuddle Old Chapel Trust in renovating the Former Methodist Chapel in the heart of Tolpuddle. The story of this village and the 6 Martyrs is essential to understanding trade union history. Their story is one of bravery; they fought against injustice and won. The solidarity shown by the trade union movement which led to the martyrs being pardoned shows the true power of working people.”
Andrew McCarthy, Chairman of the Tolpuddle Chapel Old Chapel Trust said “We are very pleased to accept this generous donation from the GMB. Trustees were heartened that so many GMB members visited the site of the Former Chapel during the recent festival. As a chapel it played an important role in the lives of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, their families, friends and neighbours. It is wonderful that it will be renovated and used again by the local community.”
Contact: Paul Maloney on 07983 326743 or GMB press office on 07970 863411