Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pendle Radicals, what a busy first nine months

Pendle Radicals has had a busy first nine months, powered by a very lively group of volunteer researchers.  Faye Wetherall of Mid Pennine Arts reports on progress, and on what to look forward to this year.

Our diaries are already starting to look very full as we are springing into 2019 with lots of activity on offer for all to get involved in…
Radicals Research Team
Tea Parties and Radicals outings have been keeping us busy over the last few months. We are delighted by how our volunteer Radicals Research Team is continuing to grow and how members are so eager to help lead this four year journey of discovery.  Most recently we embarked on a research trip to the Working Class Movement Library to make use of their amazing archives, in particular the extensive material they had on Ethel Carnie Holdsworth.  Ethel Carnie was the first working class woman in Britain to publish a novel and because of this has caught the attention of many of our volunteers.  It was great therefore at the WCML to see a vast number of her books, exchanges of letters between herself and others, her death certificate and even a copy of her own handwriting…  We felt very close to our local mill girl turned best-selling author!

The team have also recently attended a seminar at Huddersfield University by Dr Nicola Wilson which was again based on the remarkable poet, journalist, feminist, social activist and Radicals’ volunteers favourite, Ethel Carnie Holdsworth!  It was great to hear how interested in the project Nicola was and the trip helped to fill a lot of gaps in our research enquiry.
Prior to this a group of volunteers also headed to Salford University to attend an enlightening conference organised by the WorkingClass Movement Library that looked at the fight for women’s suffrage called More Than Just the Pankhursts – the wider suffrage movement.

‘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.  Last 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 look forward to welcoming artist Jamie Holman to our next banner tea party who has recently worked with Durham Banner Makers to produce a very impressive banner commemorating the heritage of acid house in Lancashire. Jamie has also been asked by Super Slow Way to produce a solo exhibition for The British Textiles Biennial 2019, and so we are excited to hear about Jamie’s methods of research and making and we hope to get a special glimpse of the banner itself!
As we welcome in a new year, we look back on how we finished the last one on such a high…
Dissent launch
On 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. 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 UCLan 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.

From Suffrage to Citizenship

On 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 Selina 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.

What to look out for in 2019…

  •      This year we aim to put in place the first six sites of the Radicals Trail, establishing a permanent footprint for the project. This will be a trail of discovery which will encourage visitors, local people and especially the next generation to look beneath the surface and see our area with fresh eyes.  It will initially feature six points of historic interest, which we then aim to build on in years to come. 

  •      We look forward to working more on our exhibition which will feature as part of 2019’s British Textiles Biennial… look out for more information soon about what we plan to put forward for this!

  •           We have also began work on something to feature as part of Pendle Walking Festival 2019. This will celebrate the likes of adventure holidays pioneer Thomas Arthur Leonard and Thomas Criddle Stephenson,  a ‘radical rambler’, a hero of the campaign for the right to roam and an overlooked inspiration behind the creation of the Pennine Way.

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 that team of volunteers who are quickly becoming remarkable ambassadors for 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 simply like to know more about the project?  Contact me (Faye) for more details. 

If you enjoyed reading this find out more information about the project here: