9th Aug, 2020

Countryfile visits Wellesbourne to mark centenary of trade union pioneer

THE CENTENARY of the death of Barford-born trade union pioneer and MP Joseph Arch is being marked by BBC show Countryfile.

The team, including presenters Matt Baker and Helen Skelton, visited Wellesbourne to record an episode about the life and times of the Arch – chiefly known for improving the rights of 19th century agricultural workers – is set to be broadcast over the August bank holiday.

Filming for the episode took place in various locations in Warwickshire, including an interview with Arch expert Dr Jeremy Burchardt outside The Stags Head pub in Wellesbourne, as well as at the village’s allotment site.

Plot holder Ken Manning traced the changing role of allotments over the last two centuries, and the contribution of Wellesbourne’s 180-year-old plots – currently under-threat from development – to the village.

The residents have been locked in a battle with landowner, the Diocese of Coventry, for around two years which has given rise to campaign group Save our Allotment Site.

Aptly, Arch’s work also included promoting the use of allotments to support poverty-stricken farmers.

Allotment association chair Ian Hope said: “Earlier this year, with the help of Barford Heritage Group, we recreated the local tradition of walking The Joseph Arch Way between Wellesbourne and Barford, to honour his trade union work and to also raise awareness of the valuable contribution he made to the allotment movement.

“We believe Wellesbourne allotments are the jewel in the crown of the village and are tremendously proud that our association has brought Countryfile to Wellesbourne and given Arch the national profile he deserves.”

Matt Baker also visited dementia-friendly plot at the site with Heather Brown, chair of the village’s support group ‘Oscars’. The plot will officially be opened on Sunday August 25 – the day the episode will broadcast.

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