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Trade Union Heroines Remembered

Women Chainmakers

20 October 2011

The pioneering work of a formidable group of Black Country women ‘The Iron Ladies of Cradley Heath’ will be honoured at an event celebrating their achievements at Black Country Living Museum on Saturday 22 October, 2011.

In 1910 the Women Chainmakers of Cradley Heath won a fight to establish the right to a fair wage following a bitter 10 week dispute.   The employers and unions agreed to a minimum wage of two-and-a-half pence an hour - an amount which equalled a 150 percent pay increase for the poorest of workers.

Andrew Lovett, Director and Chief Executive of Black Country Living Museum said: “We are delighted once again to commemorate the courageous actions of a group of women from Cradley Heath, who marched for better pay and shaped industrial relations in Britain.  The event focuses on the historic significance of the landmark victory which changed the lives of thousands of workers who were earning starvation wages.   

“Black Country Living Museum will do what it does best and re-live the story of these remarkable women through street performance, theatre, re-enactment and storytelling.”

Music, chainmaking demonstrations, a chainmaking trail, flag-making activities, a chainmaking board game, Punch and  Judy in the park and a soup kitchen by the side of the historic Workers’ Institute all set the scene.    The highlight of the day will be a re-creation of the strike march when the women walk to victory once more! 

Andrew Lovett, Director and Chief Executive of the Black Country Living Museum continued: “It has been said that the Cradley Heath Workers’ Institute – now part of the Black Country Living Museum – is the last physical reminder of the Women Chainmakers’ Strike of 1910.  That may be so – but the more important legacy is the fairer treatment of working people and the development of a more respectful and tolerant society – one that isn’t built on a kind of semi-slavery of others.”

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