A very Radical couple of months…

May 2019

Catch up with some of the things we have been up to as part of Pendle Radicals. As Faye Wetherall reports, it’s true to say it has been a very busy and RADICAL few months with lots more to look forward to…

 

Have YOU got what it takes to be a Radical Explorer?

A few weeks ago as part of Pendle Hill Landscape Partnerships Free Family Nature Sessions we hosted a Radical Explorer themed workshop!  Held at the glorious Clarion House, the last IMG_5813one of its kind in the UK, the workshop shone light on just one of our Radical Trail sites which will be kite marked later this year.  (Look out for more on this…) We recruited lots of new Radical Explorers who made their own Explorer Journals, learnt about their local history and discovered their unique Explorer Name.  It was fantastic to introduce the project to a young audience who particularly enjoyed learning about the extraordinary Ethel Carnie Holdsworth, the first working class woman to have a novel published, just one of the many remarkable, but often forgotten, people of Pendle which Pendle Radicals aims to bring into the light.

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Banner, Protests and Campaigning…

Over the last few months we have made lots of progress in the organising of our banners exhibition which will feature in the first British Textiles Biennial in October. We invited banner artist Jamie Holman to come and give a talk to our growing group of volunteers and we are looking forward to visiting the Peace Museum in Bradford later this week for further research and inFKRS8005spiration.

In the build up to what we hope will be a very impressive showing of textile banners both past and present, we are working with a group of GCSE Textiles students at Marsden Heights Community College. Over the course of seven sessions, the students will be thinking about what challenges they themselves face as young women today and what issues they feel strongly about. They will be inspired by the needlework of the suffragettes and will be thinking about what these women would be fighting for today. The work will be exhibited in the lead up to the British Textiles Biennial, with the students given ownership of how their work is displayed…

 

People Enjoying Nature…

We had a great day with Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership, providing a Radicals themed session as part of their People Enjoying IMG_6466Nature programme. These sessions provide individuals and groups dealing with mental health issues and social isolation the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people, and so it was amazing to share our project with them and leave them wanting to learn more about the amazing people and places associated with their area. It was a fabulous day of making and walking, we took in two of our Radicals sites, the Inghamite church and Clarion House and the group were inspired by the work of Selina Cooper and Ada Nield Chew, thinking about and expressing some the issues they would be fighting for today!

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A Full House for Peterloo

It was great to see lots of familiar and new faces at the screening of Peterloo as part of In-situ’s Pendle Social Cinema programme.  Ballad singer Jennifer Reid kicked off the evening with some live singing which certainly warmed up the audience, Jennifer will be leading her own project as part of Pendle Radicals… keep scrolling for more information. Nick Hunt (MPA Creative Director) followed with an update about the project. All proceeds from the screening are going to Clarion House.  Sue Nike from the Clarion told us about some of its interesting and radical history!

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Novels, Poetry and Songs…

Reader, writer, poet, pacifist, suffragist, co-operator and educator Ethel Carnie Holdsworth has gPR - Audio Premiere - ECH - 25.3.19 - 2reatly inspired our team of volunteer researchers. With their help, as well as Drama Specialist Jules Gibb and broadcaster Liz Catlow, we have recorded a selection of Ethel’s poems which will feature in the National Poetry Archive. We are therefore inviting you to a celebratory event of this happening on Friday 7 June. As well as hearing these poems being brought to life, you will also have the opportunity to learn about one of Ethel’s novels that has been recently republished. East Lancashire Clarion Choir, based in Burnley, is currently singing about Ethel Carnie in a project called the Pendle Hill Song Fellowship. Come and hear the Songs of a Factory Girl – in song. Find out more here.

 

Broadside Ballads and Paul Graney…

Inspired by one of our Pendle Radicals, Paul Graney, ‘the man with the tape recorder’, Jennifer Reid will be creating a dialect reading group which will develop into a dialect writing group for people who live around Pendle Hill. Is this you? Why not some along to an introductory session to find out more about Paul Graney, his work and how you can get involved in this project.

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This is just some of the RADICAL things that have been keeping us busy over the last few months… learn more about the project here and how you can become involved as a volunteer!

 

 

 

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Radicals attend The Battle of Heptonstall

Nick Burton, a member of the volunteer research team, tells us about a Radical experience for the volunteers in Heptonstall…

On Saturday 2nd March, a group of Pendle Radicals volunteers ventured out on a stormy night over the border to Pennine Yorkshire. It was as if the weather was stage managed, since the evening was to be spent watching a play where there was an actual storm brewing. This was a political and human storm in the shape of the English Civil War. Huddled in an atmospherically lit, draughty hilltop church we were treated to a dramatic retelling of The Battle of Heptonstall, an event that tore the West Riding village asunder in the autumn of 1643.

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The Battle of Heptonstall is a community play written by Michael Crowley. It took six months to produce and involved local people at every stage and in every way, even forming their own theatre company with the name ‘The Brutish Multitude’. This name was apt, not just for the turbulent age of the 17th century but for the uncertain political times we are experiencing today. How very intriguing that the funding for the production came from Art50, a Sky Arts project that, in the wake of Article 50 being invoked, asked 50 artists to respond to the question of ‘who we British are as a people and a nation’.

The story unfolded over two acts and showed how a Civil War skirmish between Royalist forces from Halifax and Roundhead forces from Rochdale played out on a hillside above the small isolated weaving and farming community of Heptonstall. The story was based on real accounts, with the battle and the events leading up to it placed in the domestic situation facing the fictional Cockcroft family. John Cockcroft is a struggling weaver forced to billet a parliamentary sergeant in his own house and struggling to stop his own teenage son joining the fight. The son is largely doing this to impress his young sweetheart, herself caught up in the machinations of a Royalist spy.

The play worked as a domestic drama set against the backdrop of war. As much as John Cockcroft wanted to ignore the pending battle he could not. Here was a hardworking honest man whose chief loyalty was to his family rather than King or Parliament. There is an obvious connection with Pendle Radicals here. Many of our heroes faced the day to day struggle of working class existence but were caught up in causes linked to greater national and international struggles.

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As well as being well acted and researched, it was both the music and the setting that were the key to evoking the atmosphere of the mid-17th century period in this Pennine community. A rich seam of traditional folk and pastoral tunes ran throughout the play including music by Thomas Tallis and a Christopher Marlowe poem. Songs were sung by the cast, who presumably were not professional singers, which gave an authentic feel as the same ballads would have been sung by the weavers, farmhands, soldiers and common folk of the 1640’s.

The venue for the play was St. Thomas the Apostle Church, the parish church which for centuries in its old and new forms, has been at the heart of the village community. The audience sat in the pews with the play being performed in front of the altar. Dimly lit and with a high vaulted roof, the church echoed to the beat of the war drums and spies and generals emerged from the dark shadows of stone columns.

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Intriguingly the scattered graves spread wide around the church include the American poet, Sylvia Plath, and Heptonstall’s very own Pennine Radical, ‘King’ David Hartley. He was the ringleader of the ‘Cragg Vale Coiners’, who in the 18th century ran a counterfeit coin racket in the valley around Hebden Bridge to supplement meagre weaving and farming incomes. Hartley was arrested and hung at York, his grave now to be found in the old graveyard of Heptonstall parish church.

 

 

The production of The Battle of Heptonstall was also an effective piece of community theatre due to its modern-day relevance. As part of the Art50 Brexit related initiative, it held up a mirror and reflected our own divided society. Villagers like John Cockcroft were reluctantly forced to choose a side – King or Parliament. The rhetoric and battle cries of both opposing sides were cleverly voiced in the play from the side-lines. The characters of Sir Francis Mackworth and Colonel Bradshaw were both represented in the play highlighting the opposing ideologies of Cavalier and Roundhead. In a nice twist, both the military commanders were played by women.

The production certainly set the bar high. Pendle Radicals volunteers can be enthused and spurred on by this. Like the Yorkshire side of the Pennines, we also have the true stories, the historical accounts, the ballads and songs, as well as the evocative and atmospheric settings that can be used to bring our radicals to dramatic life. It shows also that in any drama production the music and location can play a major role. Perhaps the village hall or community centre is not always the most effective place to tell a story.

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Read more about the project on the Art50 website.

A Banner Occasion!

Faye catches us up on what some of the Pendle Radicals Research Team have been up to…

One thing we’ve realised while researching some of the more politically engaged Pendle Radicals, such as women’s suffrage and workers’ rights advocate Selina Cooper, is the power of protest and the special place in that of the visual language of banners. So we’re delighted that as part of the Pendle Radicals programme, MPA is invited to produce a banner exhibition as part of Super Slow Way’s 2019 British Textiles Biennial.

We aim for this to be a big, bold, dramatic showing of protest banners – a mix of contemporary and heritage items – to not only provide a spectacular visual experience, but also to inspire and to bring to life a century-long, historical thread of protest and dissent. More on that in future blogs…

To inspire the very enthusiastic team of Pendle Radicals volunteers who are leading the way on the exhibition, we invited artist Jamie Holman to join us for one of our regular Radical Tea Parties, and we were delighted when he accepted.

Last year Jamie was co-commissioned by Super Slow Way and the Lancashire Encounter Festival to explore the politics of fabric through the collections at the Harris Museum, Preston and Blackburn Museum. Working with Durham Bannermakers, Jamie created a beautiful, trade union style, hand painted banner, which was processed during the Festival in September 2018.

Over coffee and cake, Jamie shared with the group how his work was inspired by the Harris’s collection of protest banners and was influenced by William Blake, the temperance movement and sports fashion. He spoke about how the banner design draws on the recent legacy of acid house and rave, in Lancashire towns where this youth culture explosion happened thirty years ago, and how he actively sought to engage people ‘who were there’ in the production process. The banner, he explained, is not only intended for display in gallery or museum spaces, but also for active use in protests and parades.

Jamie has been developing this work over the last few months, continuing to take inspiration from the time when working class youth reclaimed the deserted mill buildings of the north that cotton had abandoned, and filled them with a new community of music and dance. His completed work will be exhibited as part of the Biennial in October 2019.

It is clear that Jamie’s banner is made up of many threads… excuse the pun… inspired further by the idea of looking at nostalgia differently. Jamie’s passion for bringing radical history to life was a great inspiration and got us all thinking…

 

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Jamie Holman photo 5 (credit - Lee Smillie)

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Jamie Holman photo 6 (credit - Lee Smillie)

 

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Thanks to Emma Blackburn and Lee Smillie for the great images.

Interested? Find out more about our Pendle Radicals project via our website. Perhaps you would like to join the Radicals Research Team? Contact Faye for more details.

 

 

Ethel the Poet

Faye Wetherall brings you the latest on our mission to tell the world about Ethel Carnie Holdsworth…

Last week we had yet another successful Ethel Carnie inspired tea party, thanks to great company and, of course, great cake!  Ethel Carnie Holdsworth is just one of an extraordinary cast of characters that Pendle Radicals aims to explore. She was the first working class woman in Britain to publish a novel and, despite juggling being a wife and mother, she was a remarkable poet and social activist.

Ethel started writing poetry at a very young age – as she stood at her loom in the mill – she says in the introduction to her first collection. She subsequently published three collections between 1907 and 1914 but wrote many more that were published in a wide range of newspapers and magazines.

 

The poem above demonstrates her talent.  It is taken from her last poetry collection called Voices of Womanhood.  It also shows her frustration over women’s subordinate position in society.  Ethel wasn’t afraid to speak out about such issues, whereas many other women of the time accepted that this was how society ran and didn’t challenge the status quo. The poem for me sums Ethel up in a nut shell, her determination, fieriness and her strong views. She used poetry as a platform to speak out and connect with other women and mothers who were too afraid to do so.  However, she had no wish or desire for this to bring her fame or reputation.

By the age of 46, Carnie had written 10 novels, two films, numerous short stories and poems, fifteen serials, plus essays.  She also edited and produced The Clear Light – an anti-fascist newspaper, however, many people are unaware of the remarkable efforts and work of this mill worker turned best-selling author.

ethel1_from-hbrown-1In light of sharing Ethel’s incredible talent as a writer, feminist and activist and allowing her work to be enjoyed by others, Pendle Radicals has put forward a number of Ethel’s poems to be included in the national Poetry Archive. Choosing the right poems from the endless amount of exceptional poems that she wrote has been extremely tricky however – especially as we only have a relatively small amount of audio space available to us.

With the help of our project volunteers or ‘Radicals Research Team’ as we refer to them, plus contributions from Dr. Roger Smalley (who wrote his PhD and a further book about Ethel Carnie*) and Dr. Patricia Johnson (from her excellent paper on Ethel’s poetry **) we were slowly able to move towards a decision. We wanted a wide audience to be able to connect and relate to these poems whilst representing Ethel’s early, mid and late career. We intend for the poems to grab people’s attention and highlight Ethel’s rare and distinctive talent, and we now believe that after all our cogitations, the poems below achieve and encapsulate this.

 

The Bookworm Rhymes from the Factory Blackburn: R Denham and Co 1907
Who are the Great? Rhymes from the Factory Blackburn: R Denham and Co 1907
Faith Songs of a Factory Girl London: Headley Brothers 1911
The Universal Life Songs of a Factory Girl London: Headley Brothers 1911
Reveille Daily Herald newspaper; 11 July  1913 1913
Why? Voices of Womanhood London: Headley Brothers 1914
Power Freedom newspaper; June 1925 1925
The Meadow Clock Wheatsheaf 1932 1932

 

Our next step
For the Poetry Archive, we will record the poems read aloud by two women who hail from East Lancashire – Jules Gibb and Elizabeth Catlow. These will then be sent to the Poetry Archive which, with the addition of some biographical information about Ethel written by Janet Swan, will form the full entry for one of the first working class women poets in this country.  A great job well done – and thanks to our amazing team of volunteers for reading the poems and bringing them back to life for all to hear.

*Smalley Roger, (2014) Breaking the Bonds of Capitalism: the political vision of a Lancashire mill girl. Regional Heritage Centre, Lancaster.

** Johnson, Patricia E. (2005) Finding her voice(s): the development of a working-class feminist vision in Ethel Carnie’s poetry. Victorian Poetry Vol 43, no 3.

Interested by this? Read more about the project here.

Would you like to become a member of the Radicals Research Team? If so, contact Faye for more information.

A Radical Update

November 2018

Here’s just some of what has been happening as part of Pendle Radicals recently.  As Faye Wetherall reports, the project volunteers have been very busy over the last couple of months…

Dissent Book Launch

IMG_0728On Saturday 10 November we hosted a launch event, in collaboration with Clarion House, at Clitheroe Library for the new publication Dissent, by Clitheroe based historian Roger Smalley.  Dissent explores the long history of the Clitheroe constituency, which in the past included areas now covered by Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley, represented in Parliament since 1558 and therefore mentions a number of the change makers and radical thinkers that Pendle Radicals is investigating. Selina Cooper for example, a hero of the suffrage movement in spite of having to work in the mills from an early age.  The extraordinary Ethel Carnie Holdsworth, mill worker turned prolific writer and activist, whom the Radicals’ volunteer research group have chosen to focus on for their first enquiry.  All 50 places were booked in advance, and attendees enjoyed readings from the book plus presentations offering context for individuals and organisations featured, including one from University of Lancashire Lecturer in Public History, Dr Jack Southern.  The East Lancashire Clarion Choir entertained with songs of dissent from across the ages, and the author took questions from the audience.  Lots of copies of the limited edition publication were sold with all profits going to support Clarion House.

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Radical Research Trips

Over the last few months the volunteer team has been growing, lots of research has been conducted and discussion sparked at our regular Radicals’ Tea Parties. Recently we have embarked on several Radicals’ Research Trips, including one to the People’s History Museum in Manchester, where we enjoyed a guided tour of one of their current exhibitions Represent – Voices a 100 Years On It is a truly remarkable exhibition which reflects on those who campaigned for better representation; most famously the suffragists and the militant suffragettes through a fascinating collection of artefacts.  We were also introduced to their extensive archives, and are looking forward to going back to explore them and their banner collection further.

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A group of volunteers also headed to Salford University to attend an enlightening conference organised by the Working Class Movement Library that looked at the fight for suffrage called More Than Just the Pankhursts – the wider suffrage movement.

The team have recently attended a seminar at Huddersfield University, by Dr Nicola Wilson on the remarkable mill worker turned bestselling author, and Radicals’ volunteers favourite, Ethel Carnie Holdsworth!

We’ve received some wonderful feedback about these trips from our volunteers:

‘’Thanks for today’s session at People’s History Museum: utterly brilliant.’’

‘’Privilege to hear Helen Antrobus speak so enthusiastically & vividly at the ‘Represent! Voices 100 Years On’ exhibition. Vital to learn about the lives of Ellen Wilkinson & Selina Martin. Many thanks to her, People’s History Museum and Mid Pennine Arts.’’

‘Let us go then, and make banners as required, and let them all be beautiful.

We are extremely excited to be a part of Super Slow Way’s British Textiles Biennial next October, where we will come together with a host of artists, designers, makers and community members to explore the politics of cloth. This month we invited banner conservation expert Jenny Van Enckevort from the People’s History Museum to talk all things banners to our volunteer team.  Over lemon sponge and coffee we learnt more about the history of banners and banner making, giving us lots of food for thought in terms of what we plan to put forward for the Biennial.  We are busy exploring avenues and I am currently engrossed in a great resource – Banner Bright by John Gorman.

From Suffrage to Citizenship

image1On Saturday 24 November we were invited by the Women’s Local Government Society to be part of a celebration event in Leeds to celebrate the Suffrage Pioneers. A project which aims to celebrate and raise awareness of 100 incredible, but very often forgotten suffrage pioneers, from across the UK.  Earlier this year we nominated one of our Pendle Radicals – Selina Cooper.  We were delighted that Cooper was selected to be a Suffrage Pioneer, but why wouldn’t she be?  Despite working in the mills from the age of twelve she was a powerful force, campaigning for women’s rights both in the political and employment arenas, as well as being a passionate advocate for peace.  We were very excited to share her story at the event and learn more about the other pioneers.

Get Involved!

We have had some great feedback about the project so far which aims to develop further over the next four years, driven by a core team of volunteers who are quickly becoming remarkable ambassadors for the Pendle Radicals.

‘’This project has given me a passion. All of my life I have had a driving force and for a few years since retiring I haven’t had one. I felt rudderless. Now I have got it back. Thank you.’’

Are you interested in becoming part of the Radicals Research team?  Or would you like to know more about the project?  Contact me (Faye) for more details.

Represent! Voices 100 years on

On Wednesday 17th October we visited the Peoples History Museum with a number of our Pendle Radicals volunteers, for our second Radicals Research Trip, where we had a guided tour of one of their current exhibitions ‘Represent’ as well as an introduction to their archives session.

The guided tour of ‘Represent’ led by Helen Antrobus was particularly impressive, the exhibition marks 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act (1918) and celebrates and pays tribute to those who campaigned for better representation, in particular the suffragists and militant suffragettes.

However, the exhibition was different in the way in which it challenged how far we had really come in the last 100 years and made people question whether equality and better representation has been achieved. It therefore brought these issues up to date and reflected on how we are still campaigning similarly today through the use of banners. This was achieved through the inclusion of crowdsourced items, including placards from the 2017 Women’s Marches and a jumpsuit from the Sisters Uncut 2018 BAFTA protest, which helped tell the very personal stories of today’s movements and campaigns. It also highlighted how individuals and communities such as LGBT and Safet4Sisters are still fighting to make their voices heard today.

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At the centre of the exhibition was the Manchester suffragette banner, which on our visit we found out had been discovered at a charity shop! The banner was created over 100 years ago at the height of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) campaign led by Emmeline Pankhurst. The hour tour flew by, there were so many amazing things to read and see and Helen’s enthusiasm and knowledge was brilliant, we will definitely be back soon to digest more of the information.

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We also had a great introduction to their archives. It was brilliant to learn how we could make use of their collections for our own research and the resources that they had were vast and it was amazing to see this first hand. I look forward to making use of this in the near future.

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We have had some great feedback from our volunteers:

”Thanks for today’s sessions at PHM: utterly brilliant!”

”Privilege to hear @HelenAntrobus speak so enthusiastically & vividly at the ‘Represent! Voices 100 Years On’ exhibition. Vital to learn about the lives of Ellen Wilkinson & Selina Martin. Many thanks to her, @PHMMcr & @teamMPA

And so we are looking forward to our next Radicals outing to The University of Salford for the conference ‘More than just the Pankhurst’s.’

Interested? Come and join our volunteer team… Whether you have an interest in local history, the story of a particular individual, or a special local place, become part of this exciting project. As a member of our research team we will help you develop skills; invite you on visits to investigate source material; and most importantly there will be lots of tea and cake at our sharing session! Contact Nick Hunt to join…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recruiting new explorers at Fence Cubs!

We had a great session with Fence cubs this week, helping them to gain their local knowledge badge by telling them all about Clarion House, at New church in Pendle, the last surviving Clarion Club today as well as sharing with them the amazing stories of Jonas Moore and Benjamin Ingham. We also managed to recruit a number of new Pendle Explorers who we hope are continuing to proceed with curiosity and remember you are never lost, simply exploring!

We led the session with a short presentation, sharing key facts and images which sparked lots of discussion. With 25 Cubs attending only a couple had heard of the Inghamite Church on Wheatley Lane just a few minutes from there Cubs Hut, many had even visited and stood on the Historic Prime Meridian of the World at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and were still unaware of the contribution and work of Jonas Moore. However, by the end of the session all 25 cubs were recalling facts and are keen to make a trip to the Inghamite Church when the dark nights give way!

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Following on from the presentation we played a game of Inghamite Bingo, a really fun and engaging way to get lots of interesting facts across to the cubs, this is something they were really excited about and were keen to carry on playing until everybody had shouted BINGO!

As Explorers ourselves we were on the hunt for new recruits. We devised an explorers activity book and plotted clues around the room to help them complete five tasks, which when completed meant that they could be welcomed into the Pendle Explorers club. All the questions centred around Clarion House, Jonas Moore and Benjamin Ingham and made them remember and think about what we had said in the presentation and game of Bingo! All of the cubs were really excited by this and eager to join the Pendle Explorer’s club and receive their explorers badge.  We hope that our fellow Explorers have continued to proceed with curiosity, but are keeping themselves safe at all times!

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