Wellington Festival

History of the Festival

Wellington Festival - 25 Years

Arts Festival Retrospective by Marc Petty

Twenty five years ago Wellington Town Council unveiled a new local showcase for the arts with an annual literary festival. Inspired by the town’s own unique heritage, this long-running event has gone from strength to strength, entertaining thousands of people in the process.

Along the way, a stellar cast of talent has visited our town: from poet laureates to famous journalists and best-selling authors. This is the town that first put the Brontë family in print, educated modern day masters such as Bruce Chatwin and provided a birthplace for Hesba Stretton. Philip Larkin, one of the twentieth century’s greatest literary figures, published his first collection of poetry while working as the town’s librarian.

Of course, it would not have been possible without the diligent efforts of numerous council members and staff as well as the army of volunteers who organise these festivals over the years. So let’s raise a glass to ‘all friends round The Wrekin’ and another 25 years of the Wellington Arts Festival.

Reminiscences on the early days of the Wellington Arts Festival by Sue Crampton

In the late 90s I joined the committee of the festival. Having a background in teaching and, as I lived in Wellington, I hoped to make a positive contribution to our town, its schoolchildren and the festival.

In 1998, Peggy Harrison was the Mayor and she helped to promote our Storysacks Conference held at New College. (Storysacks was based on the idea of bringing alive a story with the help of a cloth bag containing handmade characters and props).

Without Peggy’s connections and her previous work within the community, I don’t think the event would have been so successful. She was so enthusiastic and encouraging that myself and fellow committee member Edna Morris helped organise further events. One such event was an evening of mime, puppetry, and verse about the Wrekin Giant, and the second was with the Mythstories Museum in Shrewsbury who created theatrical tableaux with the children.

In 2011 I published a book about the first female MP for The Wrekin, Edith Picton-Turbervill, entitled ‘A Head Above Others’ and was delighted to speak about Edith and her often overlooked work at the 2016 festival in the new library. Peggy Harrison helped with my research having spoken with residents who had memories of Edith working alongside the miners’ wives in the soup kitchens during the 1926 General Strike. Edith and Peggy – two great Wellington ladies whose legacies deserve to be remembered.

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