THE 217th anniversary of the death of Trowbridge martyr Thomas Helliker, who was hung in Salisbury on his 19th birthday, took place on Sunday (March 22) when a wreath was laid at his grave at St James’ Church in Trowbridge. 
Helliker was an apprentice shearman working in the woollen industry. When Littleton Mill, near Semington, was burned down in protest at the introduction of machinery he was falsely accused and arrested.despite having an alibi and protesting his innocence.
He is thought to have known who had set the fire, although he refused to name them.
The annual event is organised by the White Horse (Wiltshire) Trades Union Council to commemorate Thomas Helliker. 
Member Di Harris said: “We have had to scale it back this year. But there were a couple of us who would have laid the wreath on our own so we were prepared for that. 
“To have a few people shows how important is is for us. It commemorates what was a miscarriage of justice. He was a scapegoat and just 19, so very young. 
“They brought him back from Salisbury on a horse and carriage across the Salisbury plain. Thousands of women dressed in white, it was massive.

“They use to perform a play about him at the Village Pump so it would be good to bring that back.

“I’m really grateful to everyone for coming and pleased there are a few of us.”
TUC member Sam Selman said: “He is a key figure in the establishing of trade unions. We need to remember their history and for people to know it was a really important battle. The Industrial Revolution had consequences for a lot of people.”