4th & 5th July 2009

at the Concordia Hall, Church Road, St Leonards-on-Sea. Nearest BR station St Leonards, Warrior Square. click here for map

click here for flyer

The Robert Tressell Festival 2009

Timetable for Robert Tressell Festival 2009

Robert Tressell Festival - opening

Saturday 4th July 2009

Doors open 10.00 for refreshments

11.00 Official opening
11.10 Brion Purdey on Hastings Writers in Tressell's time Robert Tressell Festival 2009
12.15 Ann Kramer on Sussex Women in Tressell's day Robert Tressell Festival
Robert Tressell Festival 2009 14.15 Chris Baugh, Deputy General Secretary, PCS union
15.15 Stuart Borthwick, Liverpool John Moores University Robert Tressell Festival 2009
Robert Tressell Festival 2009 Peter Sinnott, CWU, the real implications of privatising the Royal Mail
19.30. Production of Ragged Trousered Philanthropists play The 2009 “Return to Mugsborough” Tour

Sunday 5th July

10.00 Doors open

11.00 Jane Ennis, Speaker from William Morris Society
Robert Tressell Festival 2009
12.00 Film 'Give Us This Day'
13.15 Lunch followed by Tressell Walk led by Dr Trevor Hopper, Open University
Book stall, Fairtrade stall, union and socialist stalls. Tressell exhibition.

Press Release

Ragged Trousered Philanthropists Set to Paint Author's Town Red.

“The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists”, a novel written about workmen in Hastings in the Edwardian era, is set to return to the town in July, dramatised as part of the Robert Tressell Festival.

The play of the book, performed by a company of actors specially formed for the occasion, tells the story of a group of housepainters in the economic recession which brought misery to so many at the beginning of the 20 th Century.

“It's a sign of how pertinent to today Robert Tressell's book is,” maintains Tom McLennan, writer of the adaptation. “The “Boom and Bust” economy was as much part of everyday life as it is now. And like then as now, some people suffered more than others.”

The book is also a savage satire on grasping politicians and financiers, shamelessly using their positions to pocket considerable amounts of money for themselves. Something that is not lost on Dee Daly , one of the organisers of the Robert Tressell festival, now in its 10th year.

“Tressell wrote about a Hastings that mirrored sharply the class distinctions of the time,” she points out. “Many of those stark contrasts are still with us today. Tressell wrote about the cruelty of the system that allowed so many people to live lives of crushing poverty. It was the force of the arguments he mustered in his portrayal of the working men and women in the novel that set the book apart from others of its time and led to its popularity and its becoming known as the “Worker's Bible”.”

Much of the world Tressell wrote about is still recognisable in the Hastings of today and Tressell tours regularly visit some of the places where Tressell lived and worked. The town of Hastings now acknowledges the man who wrote one of the century's most famous books and there is a display in Hastings Museum, in John's Place, dedicated to the man and his life.

The Tressell Society set up the Tressell Festival in 1999, to bring to public attention the life of this great writer. “We saw this adaptation of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists in Liverpool last year,” says Susannah Farley-Green, “ which was put on by the PCS union as part of the Union 08 celebrations. We liked it so much, we asked if it could be put on at the Tressell Festival, in the birthplace of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.”

The play of the book “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” can be seen at Concordia Hall, Church Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, on Saturday, 4th July at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at £5 and £4 for concessions. For bookings please phone 01424 460735/07795 496162. Refreshments will also be available

The play is also touring North West Venues in the lead up to the Hastings performance. Venues include The Bury Met and Kirby Unemployed Centre.

The Robert Tressell Festival runs over the weekend of 4th and 5th July 2009

For further information please e-mail: or phone 01424 460735.

More information about Hastings? - Hastings Borough Council

all photos (c) Ion Castro except where stated. Please don't reproduce them without permission.

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