Trowbridge Remembers Thomas Helliker

Today, we pay tribute to the Trowbridge Martyr, Thomas Helliker, also known as Hilliker or Elliker. Thomas was a dedicated young apprentice shearman in the woollen industry. During a turbulent period when Littleton Mill near Trowbridge was set on fire in protest against machinery, Thomas was unjustly accused despite having a solid alibi and vehemently maintaining his innocence.

Even in the face of false allegations, Thomas stood firm in his decision not to betray those implicated in the fire. Despite public outcry and mounting evidence of his innocence, he was convicted at his trial in Salisbury and tragically hanged at Fisherton Gaol on his 19th birthday on March 22, 1803. Many believe that influential clothiers aimed to use him as an example, leading to his unjust demise.

Annually, the community gathers to place wreaths in memory of Thomas Helliker. The event is attended by the South West TUC, well-wishers, and members of the Helliker family, all joining together to honor a young man whose life was cut short in the pursuit of justice.

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