written by Robert Tressell in Hastings and St.Leonards
c.1906 - 08

"As Owen thought of his child's future, there sprang up within him a feeling of hatred and fury against his fellow workmen. They were the enemy - those ragged-trousered philanthropists, who not only quietly submitted like so many cattle to their miserable slavery for the benefit of others, but defended it and opposed and ridiculed any suggestion of reform. They were the real oppressors - the men who spoke of themselves as 'the likes of us' who, having lived in poverty all their lives, considered that what had been good enough for them was good enough for their children" 

Robert Tressell,
"The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists"

Click for contents page

The Robert Tressell Society,
(formerly "The Robert Tressell Centre")
4 Church Road, St.Leonards on sea, East Sussex,
TN37 6EF

Please note that the above address is for correspondence only.

The local repository for Robert Tressell material is the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery



Book Launch: 13 March 2014.
Robert Tressell, Dubliner: author of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’
by  Bryan MacMahon

Robert Tressell
More >>

5th Feb 2013
"Robert Tressell and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - The Man Behind The Book"
YouTube video here

Ragged Trousered Philantropists to be published in Spanish

Saturday 26th August 2016

"The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists"

at Opus Theatre, Hastings' newest venue

MORE >>>>>

Preserving the memory of Britain's most influential  working class novel

Over a hundred years ago Robert Tressell wrote "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists", a tale of the destitute and poor of Mugsborough. He took his scenery and characters from the real town of Hastings, on the south coast of England. The message of the book itself, that working people had to change the capitalist system, of which they were the direct victims, has served as an inspiration to many people worldwide, and it is also thought that "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" was partly responsible for the original outline of the Welfare State.

Hastings people are proud of their strong connection with Robert Tressell and his famous book, and as a result the Robert Tressell Society was set up to provide an archive and information point for all those interested in Robert Tressell and his work. Please contact the society for further information, or if you have information to give to us.
Please contact us by email ([email protected]) rather than through a conference call service

The Robert Tressell Timeline part 1 The Robert Tressell Timeline part 2

JOAN JOHNSON. Tressell's Granddaughter, born 7th November 1915 Joan Passed away 8th October 2000 at East Grinstead in Sussex.


REG JOHNSON. Reg passed away on 2nd July 2013 after a short illness. Reg was the husband of Joan and was the custodian of "The Robert Tressell Family Papers" which he has left to the University of Brighton at Hastings. It is hoped to reveal them next year. (2014)

Photo (c) Ion Castro 27th July 1999

Joan & Reg Johnson

Click for contents page
This site contains a few sponsored links to outside, bodies. The Robert Tressell Society does not necessarily support or endorse these advertisers but the webmaster appreciates the revenue because it helps to defray the cost of running the site.

You can now download the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

courtesy of The Gutenberg Project  
rggdp10.zip  (520kb) or rggdp10.txt (1.38Mb)

Audio version (MP3) available here courtesy of LibriVox

You can view the original manuscript - click here - courtesy of TUC History Online

The Robert Tressell Leaflet

Download the updated
Tressell leaflet


John Nettleton
R.I.P. 31st July 2007

It is with deep sadness and regret that we have to record the passing of John Nettleton. John passed away in his native Liverpool on 31st July 2007.

Without John's dedication and dogged persistence much of the story surrounding Tressell's final resting place would have remained unknown and the spot unmarked. We have lost a good friend, his enjoyable company and a knowledgeable, dedicated and irreplaceable supporter.


The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is now available on a set of spoken word CDs. CSA Word have produced an excellent, though abridged, version of the book, with Tony Robinson as narrator and Stephen Twigg, Minister for Education as Barrington. The political element of the story is in the forefront of this production, and the social life of the men and their families is barely featured. Despite this, CSA Word has created an excellent introduction to the message of RTP which will interest both new and old readers alike.

The CD set is available from CSA Word for £13.99, plus postage and packing at £1.50. Write to CSA House, 6a Archway Mews, London SW15 2PE, or contact by phone at 0208 871 0220. They will also despatch orders through their website at www.csaword.co.uk CSA Word has a great website with the best blog hosting

Dave Harker publishes "Tressell - The real story of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists"

My mother gave me this book as a birthday present otherwise I would have borrowed it from the public library. I wish I had borrowed it from the library because I would have returned it without finishing it. A splendid academic effort but so dull, so much name-dropping and so many unworthy and patronising remarks and so many tenuous connections. I am troubled by the reference to this web site (even the URL is malformed in the notes - Ch 14 - note 22 p 265), despite having told Harker specifically and on more than one occasion that the site was funded at my own expense and updated in my own time he persists in denigrating my efforts by suggesting that the website was 'courtesy of Labour controlled Hastings Borough Council' - it never has been for the simple reason that I've never asked them and the site was set up before Labour took power in Hastings!. If Harker can get something as simple as this so wrong what else has he got wrong?

Ion Castro 4th Jan 2004

top of the page

RP0809.JPG (7095 bytes)
St. Andrews Church, Queens Road about the time that Tressell   was painting the interior. The site is now a Petrol station. the square tower in the background was on the gasworks offices (now demolished) click for more pictures
St Andrews Church
The interior of St.Andrews Church (now demolished) in Queens Road, Hastings, showing Tressell's decorative painting -  fragments of which still exist
A fragment of Tressell's work from St.Andrews Church, now in Hastings Museum. They have another fragment
Part of the Robert Tressell Mural

Photographed by Ion Castro in 23/10/99 this signwriting attributed to Tressell was still in existence in an alley in St.Leonards but was painted over in 2006!

22 Gensing Road 23/10/99, where Adams & Jarrett had their office when the sign was painted. It's now a private house

Discovered recently, this picture published in 1909 shows more of the artwork, very probably part of the same commission.
Right- An enlargement of part of the picture on the left
Hastings Town Centre c 1908 Hastings Town Centre c 1908. Note the 'Long ladders on the right and the man in white - painter's overalls?
Can anyone help.....In 1967 the BBC made and screened a dramatisation of "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists", starring, amongst others Edward Fox, it was re-screened in 1968 and then we are told that the BBC , incredibly, destroyed the recording some time after that. Do any other copies exist? does anyone remember anything about it? any information gratefully received.
Please sign our visitors book A new visitors book is now in place - let us know what you think ! .

[email protected]

Jump to 1066.netTop of the page Search 1066 Country's Web sites View the Visitors' book

Click for XL(2000)Ltd

XL(2000) Ltd. are sponsors of 1066.net. Hastings' favourite web site















111229 121205 130209 130223 130603 131007 131206 140305 140320 140330 140905 170813