Invitation to Helliker Day event and to annual commemoration


Helliker Day event

Please put the date of Saturday 23 April in your diary for the Helliker Day event which will take place at The Cause, Chippenham.  Publicity will be circulated at a later date but it includes talks and performances from 2pm – 6pm and 7.30pm – 10.30pm. The event is free but donations are welcome. The theme is Textiles, Steam, Coal and Water at The Cause, Chippenham.  It will include in the afternoon Stuart Butler about Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt’s local connections and Peterloo; Dave Chapple on the History of the Somerset Miners Unions; Bryony McGinty on the History of the Somerset Coal Field; David Birks of Trowbridge Museum on The Woollen Mills of Trowbridge; and Rosie MacGregor on poverty and protest in Bradford on Avon’s wool industry to coincide with publication of her latest book on the subject. In the evening Lancashire based duo Peter and Barbara Snape will perform Cotton Town Chronicles – the story of grease, grit and grime in the Lancashire mills and mines; local poet and archivist Merv Grist will bring his spin to Rev W Awdry and Christopher Awdry’s Thomas Tank Engine and Sodor Strike plus Merv’s own hilarious school essay about Brunel.


Thomas Helliker

Invitation to annual commemoration

The annual Wreath Laying organised by White Horse (Wiltshire) Trades Union Council to commemorate Thomas Helliker will take place on Tuesday 22 March at 12.00noon at Thomas Helliker’s Tomb in St James Churchyard, Trowbridge. BA14 8DU.

Thomas Helliker, (sometimes spelt Hilliker or Elliker) is often referred to as the Trowbridge Martyr.  He was a young apprentice shearman working in the woollen industry.  When Littleton Mill, near Trowbridge was burned down in protest at the introduction of machinery he was apprehended on false accusation despite having an alibi and protesting his innocence.  Although he probably knew those who had set the fire, he steadfastly refused to name them. He was charged and sent for trial, in Salisbury where he was subsequently found guilty and was hanged at Fisherton Goal on his 19th birthday on 22 March 1803 despite public outrage. It is likely that he had been framed by powerful clothiers determined to make an example.

We do hope you will be able to join us.

Please extend this invitation to anyone you think may be interested and we look forward to seeing you.