SIX MEN OF DOREST 7:84 Theatre Company England

Pam Brighton’s production is superb – a brilliantly clear, strong and vital revival. In John McGrath’s adaptation it is brought vividly, grippingly to life by the hard-edged energy of the company with a movingly human portrayal of George Lovelesss by Paul Moriarty. And it’s punched home with a militant use of male voice Methodist harmonies by John Tams. With striking miners invited to the launch at the Sheffield Crucible the company makes clear where it stands. So did the audience, rising to its feet to acknowledge the allusion to a government which uses the law politically to defend it’s own class interests and repress opposition.” Robin Thornber, The Guardian


In 1834, farm workers in west Dorset formed a trade union. Unions were lawful and growing fast but six leaders of the union were arrested and sentenced to seven years’ transportation for taking an oath of secrecy. A massive protest swept across the country. Thousands of people marched through London and many more organised petitions and protest meetings to demand their freedom.

The protest campaign proved successful and the Tolpuddle Martyrs returned home in triumph.The Tolpuddle story is about how ordinary working people combined together to defend their families. The idea of solidarity as a basic human right is now an international demand.

The 1984 Rally marked 150 years since the Martyrs were arrested and transported. Margaret Thatcher had declared war on unions and thousands turned out to show their determination not to be beaten. The sacked trade unionists from GCHQ were there as were striking miners. The 7:84 Theatre Company put on the play Six Men of Dorset, an exhibition was held in London and a first day cover issued.

Martyrs colour