Global 1970s phenomenon Welfare State returning to Burnley this weekend

A milestone of cultural history is recalled this week, as a performing troupe that became a global phenomenon revisit their 1970s Burnley roots.

This return visit may stir memories, if you were one of the many thousands who witnessed – or took part in – one of their original, unforgettable shows back where it all began.

Do you remember the ramshackle band of artists and musicians who circled their wagons on the former council tip at Heasandford in 1972?

Welfare State stayed for six years, working around Burnley and nearby towns and producing a string of wild, outdoor spectacles with casts including hordes of local people such as the burning of the Houses of Parliament on Fulledge Rec.

Welfare State in Burnley in the 1970s

They also performed in the back streets of Stoneyholme and led torchlit new year processions in Barrowford.

This Saturday, September 24th at 7pm, a dozen former members of Welfare State return to where it all began - Burnley Youth Theatre, built on the same site after they left.

They are back to celebrate the 40 year history of Welfare State International in music and song.

Welfare State went on to become known and admired around the world, and hugely influential as pioneers of a new kind of outdoor performance, wildly entertaining, wickedly subversive and put together on a shoestring.

Welfare State performing in Burnley in the 1970s

Their huge family tree of spin off companies has spread throughout the theatre world at home and abroad over the intervening years.

All Lit Up, a celebration of Welfare State, is presented by Mid Pennine Arts, who first invited the group to settle in Burnley back in the 70s.

Creative Director Nick Hunt said: “Burnley had six wonderful years of Welfare State back in the 70s. We are so happy to be able to welcome them back for this once only

occasion. And if we can trigger some memories for anyone who watched or took part in one of those original shows, that will be perfect.”

All Lit Up is part of the cultural programme for Burnley’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (Burnley HAZ), presented jointly with Pendle Radicals.

Tickets are available to buy on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/all-lit-up-tickets-415303091727