Cradley Heath chainmakers festival extended to cover two days in June

11:57am Tuesday 20th May 2014

THE Chainmakers' Festival is returning to Cradley Heath next month and for the first time will be held over two days.

The annual event, which is held at Bearmore Park, will feature a music concert on Friday, June 6, and the procession and festival on Saturday, June 7.

The festival is organised by the Midlands Trade Union Congress and commemorates Mary Macarthur and the Cradley Heath's chainmakers 1910 strike for a minimum wage.

The landmark victory changed the lives of thousands of workers who were earning starvation wages. The employers and unions agreed to a minimum wage of two and a half pence an hour - an amount equaling a 150 per cent pay increase for the poorest of workers.

On the Saturday there will be a commemoration at Mary Macarthur Memorial Gardens at 11am followed by banner procession from Cradley Heath High Street at 11.30am to Bearmore Park.

A spokesman for Midlands TUC said: "Come and celebrate the achievements of the famous women chainmakers of Cradley Heath and have some fun at the same time.

"There will be theatrical re-enactments on the day with Lynn Morris as Mary Macarthur with support from The Select Theatre Group as well as music, speeches, a circus, face painting, trade union exhibitions and Stacey Blythe will be singing The Chainmaker Song."

He added: "It really will be a great family day out."

Speakers on the Saturday include Kay Carberry, assistant general secretary of the TUC, Ruth Smeeth, deputy director of Hope not Hate,

Stephanie Peacock, parliamentary candidate for Halesowen and Rowley Regis and Natasha Millward, parliamentary candidate for Dudley South.

Arts collective Creative Cradley Heath are also backing the festival and will be working with local schoolchildren and artists on several local history projects before and during the festival.

There will also be documentary makers on hand during the day to take oral history testimony about chainmaking.

The High Street will be also decorated with bunting and flower baskets, with traders getting involved, this will be funded by the Friends of the Women Chainmakers.

This Saturday, Fran Wilde, is running an day of bunting making at St Luke's Church between 10am and 4pm, with free refreshments.

Textile artists Anne-Monique Stellinger and Gillian Dunkerley will also be teaching fabric printing techniques at the event.

For more information phone Fran Wilde on 07592 563 725.

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