Thursday, 19 August 2010

Women Chain Makers Strike

Wednesday 19 October 1910 marked the end of a nine week strike that involved around 1000 women chain makers living in the area immediately around Cradley Heath who refused to work until they all received the newly-agreed minimum rate of 2½d an hour. Small chain making was the first industry to obtain minimum wage legislation, and local people, rightly, look back on the part they played in this campaign with pride.

Thanks to the arrival of Pathé news in June 1910, the scandal of the women’s sweated labour attracted world-wide interest and sympathy from influential people who gave their support to the cause.

The meeting where the dispute ended was held in the schoolroom of Grainger’s Lane Primitive Methodist Church, the same place where it had begun on 22 August, when the formidable Mary Macarthur of the National Federation of Women Workers inspired the women to stand up for their rights. It was from these same premises that the women received their strike pay, and there that they held a mammoth tea-party with bread supplied by well-wishers. Sadly that building was demolished in 2007, after its congregation had re-located to Overend Methodist Mission. The leadership of the church in 1910 included people from all sections in the dispute, and some of their descendants are members at Overend today.

It seemed highly appropriate to commemorate the centenary of this event locally and so a celebration service is being held at Overend Church, Banner’s Lane, Cradley on Sunday 17 October at 6.00 pm. All are welcome to attend. Further details from Margaret Bradley 01384 567274.

No comments:

Post a Comment