In 1910 the most significant victory for women workers happened in a little town in the Black Country called Cradley Heath. There chains were made that supplied the whole of the world, from cow-ties to the anchor chains for big ships such as the Titanic. The women of the town were ‘enslaved’ to their backyard forges working all the hours that they could to make a living; their wage was as low as 1d an hour.

Led by the redoubtable Mary Macarthur, the National Federation of Women Workers supported the women, when they were locked out by the unscrupulous employers who refused to meet a legal commitment to pay more. After a fight lasting 10 weeks, with substantial public support through a well-publicised campaign; the women won the first nationally agreed minimum wage and set the course for the end of the ‘sweated’ trades.

Breaking the Chains PDF Download