Tressell Centre Newsletter Number One January 2000

Dear Fellow Tressell Enthusiast,

This is the first edition of what we hope will become a quarterly newsletter keeping enthusiasts in touch with the activities of the Tressell Centre and plans for the Tressell Festivals. We would also like it to become a forum for discussion about the book, the author and how they relate to society today. With this in mind therefore we would welcome any contributions from you and any ideas that you want to share about the Festival and the future work of the Centre. Please address any correspondence to the usual address or contact Susannah or Dee on 01424 - 460735, evenings after six or weekends are usually best (however if you phone before 9am or during the Archers Omnibus we will be unable enter into any coherent conversation !!!

Feedback From The 1999 Festival And Plans For 2000

Our inaugural event was always going to be both nerve racking and a valuable learning experience. We hoped for a success but we never dared to dream of the response that we actually received. The success of the weekend was due entirely to the enthusiasm and generosity of our guests, sponsors, helpers and visitors, the whole weekend seemed to be filled with lively conversation and debate. 1 think it would be a fair assumption to make that most of us cam away knowing quite a lot more than we did at the beginning of the weekend. The speakers covered a wide spectrum of subjects relating to The Ragged Trousered Experience!". The enthusiasm of the speakers for their subjects was infectious and certainly elicited lively discussion both during the daytime events and on into the evening.

In addition to the talks and discussions there were the very popular guided walks around Tressell's Mugsborough; not only was there the opportunity to enjoy some of the hidden corners of Hastings and St Leonards but also the chance to compare the sites described by Noonan with the original models. Trevor Hopper explains more about his walk below. Amazingly, the South Coast weather only caught us out the once and the Great Socialist Picnic on Windley had to be called off due to the continuous rain and wind - we will endeavour to go for a re-run next year but those of us familiar with the vagaries of the Sussex climate will know that we are always at its mercy.

The evening entertainment was a roaring success; Robert Demeger's interpretation of some of the favourite passages from the book was rivetting, and the audience were transfixed throughout. To follow on we were lucky to have Phil Sawford, the M.P for Kettering five in concert, anyone in the audience who has ever been to a meeting of their local Labour Party will never forget the contents of Phil’s performance of “Come To Our G.C !!!” The grand finale was Steve Cope who was earth shatteringly marvellous - to the extent that the author of this report who is known never to dance was seen to get up and jig around for more then ten minutes! Photographic evidence of this unheard of event is available on applicatioril

The weekend as a whole was not only a success in principle but also cleared a profit with which to start plans for next years event, as well as to carry out some of our ongoing plans which are outlined below. The arrangements for the Millenium event are in the very early stages at present but it will take place over the weekend of 27/28th May. Whether it will be a two or three day event is not yet settled; it will depend mostly on speaker availability and general response - if you have any views on this please let us know. One of the ideas that came out of this years’ event was that the weekend should be broadly themed, and following on from suggestions made by speakers and guests we have decided on a theme of Education. This theme will encompass all aspects of education, how the themes of education were brought out in the book, how Tressell's ideas can be related to education today and how the book and its author can be included in secondary, further and higher education. If you have strong views about this or have suggestions for speakers please let us know. Our venue - The Bourne Hall, proved very popular with visitors so we have booked this once again. It is possible that the evening event will take place elsewhere with a larger capacity, all the details will become clearer as the months draw on and rest assured you will be kept informed.

All in all the first Robert Tressell event was a very gratifying success and has given us so many ideas to build on that we are now confident that we can make this an annual event. We therefore are looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with old friends next year and meeting more of you that were unable to attend last years event.

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Guided Walk Of Tressell's Muasborough 29th May 1999 - Trevor Hopper

Hastings is fortunate to have so many reminders of the novel still standing; it has the atmosphere of Mugsborough. The first stop on my tour is the Town Hall, the same building with the balcony from which the election results were declared to the wild throng below. Rather more of a background to the novel is a visit to the Clarence pub just around the corner in Middle Street. This was the meeting place of the Hastings Trades Council and where many contemporary issues were discussed that were to feature in the novel. Proceeding past the shopping centre we came to the Cricketers pub, unfortunately with a recent name and image change, but clearly a poignant reminder of the relationship between town and novel and one that gave us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of the pub and alcohol to the novel.

Walking along Queens Road we caught our first glimpse of the triple attic flat in Milward Road that was Noonan's home and as we turned off the main road we were able to see the rear view that the family peer out from at the end of the story to wave to Barrington on his train. Walking past the site of one of Noonan's employers, Burtons, we then reached the family home. For many Tressell fans, this point feels like the end of a pilgrimage, as we gaze up at the place where the masterpiece was actually written.

It is remarkable that this building is so prominent; as we puffed and panted our way to the top of the West Hill we were able to view the flat against the backdrop of the bridge over which Barrington would have departed. At the top of the West Hill we were able to stop for some welcome refreshment while taking in the stunning views and discussing the socialist groups in existence during Noonan's time. This was followed by the descent to the seafront for more talk about the beach meetings and the link with Hastings as an Edwardian resort. A few of us then left for a brief look at the commemorative panel to Tr~11 in the very library that he used.

Plans Afti Ideas For The Year Ahead. One of the original aims of the Tressell Centre was to er=urage widespread reading of this vitally important novel. We were always particularly interested in introducing the book and its author to a new generation of readers. So many of us first read the book and were influenced by it when we were teenagers or when we returned to education as adults that we felt it was important to give others this opportunity. We are therefore investing some of the proceeds from this years Festival in placing a copy of the book in every Secondary School library in the Hastings and St Leonards catchment area as well as in the libraries of the further education establishments.

In tandem with these initiatives we also plan to begin asking schools and colleges in the area if it is possible for us to arrange speaker visits for pupils and students. We hope that even more ideas will emerge from next years festival.

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The Ragged Trousered Raffle-

As those of you who were in touch with us before the festival will know, Michael Foster, the MP for Hastings and Rye, was in the process of getting a copy of the book signed by the current Cabinet which we originally planned to raffle at the Festival itself. Due to a number of technical difficulties we were unable to carry out the raffle in May so we are planning to launch the raffle on a national basis within the next few months and we will be letting you know more details shortly. The signed copy is indeed impressive and irrespective of one’s political persuasion would be a fascinating rarity to have - even though, it has to be said, some of our leaders handwriting does leave a little to be desired!

"Give us This Day~ The Channel 4/ Arts Council Video Of Tressell's Life.

This film was first shown in the early 1980’s and has not been seen for some time. The centre has purchased a copy from the Arts Council (the current cost of a copy is £80 ) on the understanding that this is not available for public performances for which a fee Is paid. We are happy to lend the video to interested parties strictly on the above understanding. We would have to ask that the borrower pays for postage and pays a fully refundable deposit. Please contact Susannah or Dee for further details, it is a wonderful film as those who managed to see it during the Festival would agree.

"Tressell's Mugsborough" - Pamphlet By Trevor Hopper.

This newly updated pamphlet is a fascinating guide to the areas of Hastings and St Leonards described by Tressell. It is a mine of information for both the Hastings native and those who have never visited. It is available directly from Trevor. Cost is £3.50 each or £6 for two including postage and packing made payable to T.Hopper. Contact Trevor at: 15a Hartington Road, Brighton, BN2 3LJ or phone 01273 677890.

Goodnight And Farewel

Thus concludes our first newsletter. If you would like to help with the next one we would be delighted to hear from you. Please bear in mind that both the Festival and the Newsletter are being planned and put together from our sitting rooms, so if we sometimes seem a little disorganised please excuse us as we both have full time jobs and multiple other outside commitments. We look forward to hearing from you soon, as well as seeing you in May

Yours Fraternally Dee Daly & Susannah Farley-Green

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