Mary Macarthur speaking to a crowd during the 1910 Cradley Heath women chainmakers' strike

Women Chainmakers

If ever there was a moment in time to evaluate the progress made towards gender equality, that moment is now.

These issues are not new ones, the women standing up today to assert their rights are standing on the shoulders of those women in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who began the struggle towards equality.

One of those women was Mary Macarthur. In 1910 she led the Women Chainmakers of Cradley Heath in the West Midlands in a strike to demand that the minimum rate of pay, set by the Chain Trade Board, was implemented fairly. This was all the more remarkable because the women worked at home, or in small factories and had no history of working together to achieve a common goal.

The NEU and Friends of the Women Chainmakers are pleased to share with you our new resources about the Women Chainmakers Strike of 1910.  They can be downloaded as a full pack or accessed separately as class resource sheets.

We hope that you will be able to find time in the very busy school schedule to integrate this resource into your school’s curriculum. Resources are suggested for each activity but you may choose to use them creatively in other ways in your school/classroom.

To let us know how you have used the resources email [email protected].

Teaching resources

Elements from the main resource for easy downloading.

Main lesson

Resources for the main lesson plan.


Fair pay and equality time line activity for use in the main lesson.

Placard pictures

A series of placards related to the Women Chainmakers for use in main lesson.

English (persuasion)

Resources for the English (persuasion) extension activities.

English (slogans)

Resources for the English (slogans) extension activities.

Bundle of Sticks

The ‘Bundle of Sticks’ speech, as told by Mary, gives a simple outline of her trade union philosophy.

Art, Design and Technology

Resources for the Art, Design and Technology extension activities.

Design sheet

Resource for extension activities – Art, Design and Technology.

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