“This is a fascinating exhibition which has something of interest for everyone. It doesn't just tell the history of women but opens our eyes to a wealth of detail about the town itself which we have never had the opportunity to display before.”

Clare Poulter, Chair, Keswick Museum

Herstory of Keswick celebrates the important contribution women have made over the centuries, through reconstructed room sets and hands-on activities: revisit the squalid conditions of the nineteenth century Yards or relax in the Rawnsley’s Vicarage parlour.

Perhaps the most celebrated and important woman to remember in Keswick in 2018 is Catherine Marshall, who lived with her family at Hawse End. She became a nationally important figure as Parliamentary Secretary for the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and suggested the Women’s Suffrage Pilgrimage to London which culminated in a deputation to Prime Minister Herbert Asquith in 1913. Women marched from all over the country along eight routes, gaining numbers as they went. In Keswick, they passed over Greta Bridge and through the centre of town as the images show. The NUWSS were law-abiding suffragists, rather than the more violent suffragettes and many people (especially men) were sympathetic to their peaceful methods. When in 1916 the Government began to draw up an Act to give all men the vote, Suffragists lobbied persistently and as a result, the Representation of the

People Act in 1918 finally gave SOME women the vote. It was not until 1928 that men and women could vote on equal terms.

Women’s Suffrage Pilgrimage in front of Moot Hall Keswick and marching over Greta Bridge, 1913. Photograph right

The exhibition will tell the stories of over 30 women. These will be grouped in three main areas:

> A reconstruction of a poor Yard’s cottage (Yards were the lanes leading off Main Street). Here the displays will look at the lives of working class women in the 19th century who often had to endure squalid conditions without mains drainage and with housing next to industrial businesses such as blacksmiths, tanners and slaughterhouses. In 1852 the inspector reported that the death rate was so great that… One half of our population never reaches manhood…

> By the time of the 1870 Keswick Main Street painting, things were little better: Old Woman Burns to Death tells the tragic story of one of the women and her grand-daughter Mary Jane Wise.

> Kennedy’s yard – Slaughter house, paved floor; no drainage; large open midden in yard, all refuse thrown through window; pigsties; ashpits and middens; pump against house end to drain cellar.

> …Mr. Atkinson’s Yard: The privy and an open midden is close against the house and the windows open over it. Midden about seven yards by two yards; the wet soaks through the house wall… large maggots from the midden crawl about the house in summer. Report on Health and Sanitation, 1852

New Street Keswick c.1880 Photograph above

A rare survival: photograph of a nineteenth century working class woman scratching a living, at an age where most of us would be

enjoying a comfortable retirement! Esther Murray delivered coal around the streets of Keswick with her donkey and cart in the second half of the nineteenth century. Little is known about her, as

little was recorded. Coal was delivered to agents at Keswick Goods Station from 1864 when it opened for freight and delivered door-to-door by carriers such as Esther. Photograph right


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