News from the Robert Tressell Society – May 2009 -

Dear Friends,


Apologies for not being in touch for so long, but I do promise you that it has been worth the wait! I bring exciting news about this years Festival and news of events that have taken place during the past year.


Liverpool 2008

As you will know, Liverpool was the City of Culture for 2008 and as part of these celebrations the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in association with North West TUC put on a number of events around Merseyside. These included multiple performances of a new adaptation of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (of which more later) performed in a variety of different venues. The adaptation is truly wonderful and brilliantly performed, our heartiest congratulations to PCS and North West TUC for all their work during the Year of Culture to bring Robert Tressell to a whole new audience.

In addition to all this PCS have also cleaned the grave where Robert Noonan is buried, opposite Walton Prison and there was a deeply moving graveside oration on the evening of a special performance of the play at the Prison. This was made even more poignant by the unveiling of a special bench in memory of our dear friend John Nettleton who passed away shortly after the 2007 Festival. John had been instrumental in identifying the grave and campaigning for a stone to be erected on the site; it was also his dream that events should take place in Liverpool during the Year of Culture; the evening was a fitting tribute to a truly remarkable man and his family.


RTP in the Media

Hopefully many of you will have heard the three part adaptation by Andy Lynch for Radio 4, Andy had organised a rehearsed reading of an excerpt at the 2007 Festival featuring amongst others Ricky Tomlinson and John and Brenda Nettleton. The adaptation has been very well received and according to The Observer on the 3rd May it's broadcast has had a significant effect on sales of RTP. Ricky has also continued to do an amazing job of enlightening the unenlightened about the existence of the book! He appeared on the One Show on BBC1 in April and spoke as movingly as ever about the effect that RTP has had on his life which was followed up with a filmed report from here in sunny Mugsborough featuring our own media star – Trevor Hopper. Interestingly, the Observer also comments that the book is “still confounding expectations, reaching number six in Amazon's Movers and Shakers list” .It also recommends RTP as a fast paced thriller for the bank holiday weekend, not that we the converted needed telling!

As I write I am listening to Andy's latest Tressell related dramatisation “Mugsborough 1917” which has a two part premiere on Radio 4 on May 29th and 30th .

Clearly it has been a great year for getting Tressell and his work better known – thanks to friends like Andy and Ricky; as we approach the centenary of Noonan's death I'm sure we all hope that even more new readers are introduced to RTP.

Festival 2009 – 4th and 5th July.

This year we will be celebrating Tressell's life and work in Mugsborough on the 4th and 5th July. As well as a welcome return for Brion Purdie and Trevor Hopper we are lucky enough also to be welcoming Dr Stuart Borthwick from Liverpool John Moores University and local writer Ann Kramer. We will also be welcoming speakers from the Communication Workers Union and the Public and Commercial Services Union speaking about current issues around provision of public services.

We are also thrilled to be able to put on a performance of the play which was premiered in Liverpool last year on the evening of the 4th July. Clearly there is limited space in our venue so we would ask that if you want to attend the performance that you book in advance. The performers and production team are travelling from Liverpool for this special performance so we will have to charge a reasonable fee for tickets in order to cover the significant costs involved – but it will be worth it I promise you! Please see the attached advertisement for further details.

The Festival will open at 10am on the 4 th July at the Concordia Hall, Church Road, St Leonards, TN37 6HB (nearest station: St Leonards Warrior Square). The hall is fully accessible with disabled facilities and refreshments will be available throughout the weekend. There is no entry fee but we do ask for any donation that you can afford.

If you would like any further information or would like to book tickets please contact either Dee on 01424 447594 (e-mail: ) or Susannah on 01424 460735 (e-mail: )


Banners and Badges

The Tressell Banner (which was also featured in The Observer article) is currently in for repairs with banner maker to the stars Ed Hall, it's being properly “finished off” and having proper carrying poles fitted but hopefully it will be fully repaired in time for the Festival.

We also have finally got a new supply of our enamel badges available for sale at £5 each and cards depicting the aforementioned banner at £5 for 10. All proceeds go to keeping the festival going on a yearly basis. We have no formal sponsorship this year so we need to make a little money on merchandise as we rarely break even on the festival itself and we really would like to be able to continue running in the future.

Tolpuddle 2009.

Don't forget the Tolpuddle Festival on the 17 th – 19 th July in Dorset, this is one of the few times during the year that the Tressell banner has a day out and we all thoroughly enjoy showing it off amongst it's peers on the banner procession. Do come and join us – more details on the TUC website:


Hope to see many of you in July!

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