Cradley Heath Women Chainmakers’ Strike 1910 presentation pack of greetings cards
Ten greetings cards, two of each image.
“Sweated labour” was a feature of many trades at the beginning of the twentieth century. The 1909 Trade Board Act created the Chain Trade Board which set a minimum rate of pay for mainly women chainmakers working at home or small factories. Most employers resisted and used underhand methods to deny the often illiterate women workers their rights.
The National Federation of Women Workers called upon the women to stop work. Although most of the women who responded were members of NFWW, many were not and they and their families faced severe deprivations. The NFWW ran a successful campaign, increasing the number of women on strike, recruiting members and drawing in financial and moral support from across the country.
The strike was to have significance far beyond Cradley Heath – enforcing a national minimum wage for their trade.
"Women are unorganised because they are badly paid, and poorly paid because they are unorganised.” (Mary Macarthur).
Women Chainmakers and Mary Macarthur (GC081)
Mary Macarthur addressing the crowd in Cradley Heath during the women chainmakers’ strike of 1910.
Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of the Black Country Living Museum. Original photography by Edwin Beech/M Hessey 1910
Women chainmakers on strike in 1910 (GC082)
Women chainmakers and supporters in an alleyway after a meeting during their successful strike of 1910. Photograph reproduced with kind permission of Roy Palmer (deceased).
Lone Chainmaker (GC083)
A lone woman chainmaker at work in a typical workplace in Cradley, close to Cradley Heath. Photograph reproduced with kind permission of Dudley Archives & Local History Service.
A group of women chainmakers on strike during the 1910 (GC084)
Placards read “England's Disgrace! Help the women chain makers who are fighting for two-pence half-penny per hour" and “England’s Disgrace! Locked out after 67 years chain making. Fight for two-pence half-penny per hour”.
Young women chainmakers (GC085)
Women making small hammered chain in the chainshop of Harry Stevens in Oak Street, Old Hill, around the time of the women chainmakers’ strike of 1910. Photograph reproduced with kind permission of Dudley Archives & Local History Service.
Thanks to Alan Weaver at Midlands TUC and Christine Coates and James Goddard at the TUC Archives, London Metropolitan University.
Design and print by unionised labour.
www.kavitagraphics.co.uk and The Russell Press (now closed).
The Friends of the Women Chainmakers
Formed in early 2014, this community-based group promotes the legacy of the women chainmakers and to support the annual TUC Chainmaker's Festival. The group also aims to raise awareness of past and present women’s issues in the workplace and beyond.
There is a programme of regular monthly meetings and the group is investigating applying for Heritage Lottery Funding to refurbish a chain shop in Old Hill.
Details can be sought from Midlands TUC and at