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Festival Announces Headline Act

Chainmakers Strike

01 September 2010

The Unthanks, one of the most innovative and critically acclaimed folk bands in modern history, will be this year’s headline act at the Centenary Celebration of the Women Chainmakers’ Festival which takes place on Saturday 18th September, 2010 at the Black Country Living Museum.

Northumbrian sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank are unsentimental young storytellers with a refreshingly honest, yet poignant, approach to songwriting. Known for their timeless and quietly subversive tales of loss, fear, brawls and sorrow they employ a kaleidoscope of unlikely instruments to forge links between folk worlds old and new.

Paul Morley - Britain's leading music journalist, Observer Music Magazine said: “Music as tough as it is gentle, as ancient as it is modern, and as coldly desolate as it is achingly intimate. A sensationally graceful sound that can be epic and subdued, dreamy and specific, as well as supernaturally ancient and defiantly modern”.

Speakers at the festival which celebrates the pioneering work of the women Chainmakers of Cradley Heath, have now been unveiled and include a former top ranking government minister and a leading official from the Trades Union Congress. 

Speakers include former Cabinet Minister, the Right Honourable Tony Benn; Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union; Frances O’Grady, TUC Deputy General Secretary; Mary Turner, President of the GMB; Eleanor Smith, Unison Vice President;  Sylvia Heal, Festival Patron and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.

The Women Chainmakers’ Festival celebrates the 1910 Women Chainmakers strike –100 years after the women, led by Mary Macarthur, marched for better pay and shaped industrial relations in Britain.  The Festival is the only event in the country specifically celebrating the achievement of women in the workplace.   The women’s landmark victory laid the legislative foundation upon which today’s national minimum wage is built.

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