Queens of industry sought for Armley exhibition

7 April 2017

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Museum chiefs in Leeds are appealing for information about local ladies once crowned the queens of their industries ahead of a new exhibition in Armley celebrating their legacy.

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, formerly the world’s largest woollen mill, will be hosting an exhibition this November focusing on the young women chosen to represent some of Britain’s most prominent economic powerhouses.

The museum is now asking people to come forward with any memories, photos or information that will help them retell a fascinating chapter in the story of Leeds.

Industry queens rose to prominence in the 20th century, with the first Railway Queens elected in the mid-1920s and the last Coal Queen being crowned in the early 1980s.

Inspired by the idea of traditional Rose Queen and May Queens in local villages and towns, these queens flew the flag for their industry, county or even country in what often proved to be a life-changing opportunity for the chosen few.

The first Cotton Queen, Frances Lockett, had the chance to meet an aging former Prime Minister Lloyd George in 1930. And Railway Queen Audrey Mossom visited Russia where she met Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, as well as switching on the famous Blackpool Illuminations.

John McGoldrick, Leeds Museums and Galleries curator of industrial history, said:

“Being named a Queen of Industry was an incredible opportunity for those who were elected, and women lucky enough to be given the title became very much celebrities in their own right.

“It was also a chance for women to play a leading role in industries which had traditionally been male-dominated, providing inspiration for other young women who might want to make their way in a new career.

“As well as paying tribute to those women, we aim to spark a discussion about how women today experience working in industry and we’d love to hear from anyone who knows more about the story behind the queens, who they were and the impact the role had on their lives.”

As well as historic photos and films, the exhibition will feature rarely seen objects from Leeds Museums and Galleries’ collection as well as loans from major UK museums and private collectors.

Anyone with any information about the Queens of Industry can e-mail: john.mcgoldrick@leeds.gov.uk armley.mills@leeds.gov.uk or telephone 0113 378 3173.


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