Crowds gathered to pay tribute to Socialist writer Robert Tressell on the anniversary of his death. Around 600 people met yesterday at Walton’s Noonan Close – named after Tressell’s birth name of Robert Noonan – and marched to his graveside on Rice Lane City farm.
The march began just after 11am on Sunday and the route that the marchers took on the memorial march included Hornby Road, Rice Lane, Rawcliffe Road and then towards the farm. They were led by brass band the Parr (St Helens) Band, and some of the gathering carried Labour and trade union banners. Liverpool Socialist Singers led the singing of the The International at the graveside and the brass band performed Abide with Me.
There were speeches made by Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden, Walton CLP Chair Lena Simic, Mumin Khan from the Quilliam Mosque in Kensington, local trade unionist and the CLP’s Equalities Officer Sarah Morton and Walton CLP Secretary Alan Gibbons.
Project Gutenberg Free Online text of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ – http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3608/3608-h/3608-h.htm
Librivox Free Online audio book of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ – https://librivox.org/the-ragged-trousered-philanthropists-by-robert-tressell/
Wikipedia Biography – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Tressell
Tressell died of a tuberculosis-related illness at the age of 40 in Liverpool Royal Infirmary on February 3, 1911 and he was buried in pauper’s grave a week later at Walton Cemetery, where Rice Land City Farm is. His famous novel – The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – is an account of the working lives of a group of house painters and decorators in a fictional town called Mugsborough.
It was finished in 1910 and was credited with being a huge influence on the 1945 General Election, which saw Labour swept to power.
Mr Carden said: “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is credited with rallying people behind the landmark, reforming Labour government of Clement Attlee, ushering in the Welfare State and the NHS.
“The terrible conditions faced by the working people in the novel are sadly not history.
“In the Walton constituency and across the city, people are struggling under the impact of low pay, precarious working and Universal Credit.
“Homelessness and reliance on food banks is soaring.
“Tressell’s masterpiece remains as relevant today as when it was written more than a century ago.
“The lessons Tressell taught us still inspire the labour movement today as we fight to win a socialist Labour government that will transform society by shifting the balance of wealth and power in favour of working people and communities like those I represent in north Liverpool.”
He said: “I am proud of my CLP for supporting workers in struggle, the Arriva bus drivers, the RMT guards fighting to keep a second safety critical person on the train and the FBU who have just been successful in resisting cuts to fire services.
“The way to remember Robert Tressell and the way forward for working people is the election of a socialist Labour government under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.”