A HISTORY OF NORTHERN WOMEN IN INDUSTRY

We have a huge amount of pride in our industrial heritage. Our original brewery and tap room is based in the flax store of what was John Marshall’s Mill, in the centre of Leeds’ industrial heartland. Holbeck is steeped in history, and we regularly hear stories from visitors to the building about their memories of the mills.

Mary, the coverstar of our 2019 calendar collaboration with Holbeck Together, used to work in Marshalls Mill: “I started working at Marshalls Mill in the 50s when it was Kay’s. I’d left school when I was 13, as yer did in those days, and had gone into tailoring first. I met my husband, Les, at the mill. He worked on filling the shelves with men’s clothing and I were on fixing orders when they went wrong, so had to go down there to sort ‘em out! We had the time of us lives there. It brings back memories being here.”

To commemorate International Women’s Day 2020, we’ve taken a brief look into the history surrounding the role of women in industry in the North of England.

PICTURED: Marshall’s Mill female flax spinners and workers. Source: Leeds City Council

Britain’s textile boom started in the late 18th century, with pioneers like John Marshall investing in new technologies. This was powered, to a great extent, by a large female labour force. The role of these women, who faced drastic inequality compared to their male counterparts, provided the driving force behind the new high-productivity industries of the time. Many roles within the mills were designed with women workers in mind. Their dexterity, lower wages, and presumed amenable attitude towards factory discipline made female workers indispensable. Their hard work enabled and encouraged Northern textile centres to thrive. They played a vital role in Leeds’ evolution to becoming ‘the city that makes everything’.

The Northern ‘Queens of Industry’ of the British 20th century cemented women as figureheads of Britain’s industries. Between the 1920s and 1980s, female representatives from the wool, cotton, coal and railway sectors were selected to boost industry morale and increase investment and confidence. From the outside, the Industry Queen competitions were overtly sexist. However, they were much more than a PR exercise. The Queens were women who held a huge amount of power. They were spearheads of their communities. Their knowledge and passion for their sectors helped carry workers through the hardest of times, across two World Wars.

Yorkshire’s Wool Queen of 1947, Doreen Kerfoot, described her winning speech: “I could tell them I was a weaver, the things that we’d learnt, looms. And I got up and said what I thought”. Women were given a platform to make their voices heard.

PICTURED: Doreen Kerfoot – Yorkshire Wool Queen from 1947 (from Batley) Source: The Bulletman

PICTURED: Marjorie Knowles (Cotton Queen) touring North East Lancashire towns in 1932. Source: MuseumCrush

International Women’s Day has existed for over a hundred years, the day promotes equality, and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Coinciding with International Women’s Day is International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day, which encourages women the world over to get together to brew a beer in celebration of the day.

To mark IWD 2020, we’re releasing two limited edition beers that were both brewed by all-women teams:

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

This 4.7% Citrus IPA with Kveik yeast was brewed in collaboration with over 30 women, including representatives from Duration, Burnt Mill, Thornbridge, Beatnikz Republic, Neptune, Nomadic, Wild Card, Orbit, 30six, Double-Barrelled, Earth Station, Marble Brewery and Roosters. As well as breweries, women from all different sectors of the industry joined the brew day, including beer writer Melissa Cole, founder of the Queer Brewing Project Lily Waite, Beer Sommelier Natalya Watson, Lotte Peplow from the Brewers Association, Steph Shuttleworth from MASH, the women behind Ladies That Beer, and female team members from Barworks UK.

The beer is raising awareness for two women’s charities, Bloody Good Period and Snehalaya, and is available now.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Make it Happen has been brewed by the women at Northern Monk this weekend in celebration of International Women’s Day. The 7.2% Caramelised Biscuit Vegan Milkshake IPA is a recipe developed by our first female brewer, Maddie Culling. Ancient Sumerian societies championed women as their masters of brewing, under the watch of Ninkasi, Goddess of Beer. These brewers wrote on clay tablets to pass on their knowledge and inspiration through generations of women. The symbols carved onto those tablets, and what they represent, live on through the label of this beer, which was designed by Ellie Kennedy, our Junior Designer.

25% of profits from the sale of Make it Happen will be donated to the For the North Foundation, and the funds raised will be put towards a grant specifically for a women’s charity, or a charity that’s majority owned by women. Submissions for this grant will be opening tomorrow. The beer will be available at the end of March.