A gig was held at the Chorlton Irish Club on 3 November to raise funds for the Friends of Ryebank Fields. The event was co-organised with the Chorlton and Stretford Socialist Club, a non-party affiliated group for those who self-identify as being on the left. The main purpose of the gig was to raise money for further campaigning and leafleting, and we raised £320.
The evening started with talks from Nigel Woodcock, Paul Harnett, and Julie Ryan. Nigel spoke about the Turn Moss campaign – how it was ‘saved’, and what lessons could be learned from that success. Many of those involved in Turn Moss are now also involved in the Ryebank Fields campaign.
Paul Harnett put both campaigns into the context of the ongoing privatisation of public land, which really started in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power. He called it “the biggest privatisation you’ve never heard of”, which is the title of an article by Brett Christopers. Since 1979, half of the land that was publicly owned in Britain has left public ownership. This is what we’re up against, in effect, on Ryebank Fields, and what we successfully resisted on Turn Moss.
Julie Ryan gave a beautifully unscripted and impassioned account of her relationship with Ryebank Fields, and a bit about the history of the fields, going back to when they were the Jackson’s Brick Works and clay pits. She also told us about the Nico Ditch, outlining what she’d learned during the process of applying for Protected Monument status for the ditch (which is an ancient border between the regions of Mercia and Northumbria, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086).
We were then entertained by The Lanterns, a local covers band duo, who donated their time and talent for free. They were joined for four of their songs by Stretford’s Sally-Ann Glover, who succeeded in bringing people onto the dance floor. After a break the raffle was drawn – and thanks are due to everyone who donated a prize – especially MMU student Josie Tothill, who donated an original artwork: a lovely print of the slogan “Bread & Roses” (from early 19th Century trade union history), which was won by Jason.
We then heard some more covers tunes from the Lanterns, followed by Pablo spinning classic soul sounds, and more dancing ensued. We wrapped up at about midnight, and counted up the donations. Over £300 was absolutely brilliant.
Thanks so much to everyone who came, we hope you had a good time. The total raised was really good and enables us to get our message out to everyone in Chorlton and Stretford.