Buxton Museum curator says women of industry need to be remembered

The true horrors women faced in the workplace each day needs to be remembered, the curator of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery said, as a campaign for a female quarry worker statue in the town’s Grin Low Woods nears its halfway point.

By Lucy Ball
Thursday, 8th July 2021, 8:52 am

The Buxton Advertiser has launched a campaign to raise £4,000 to install a female quarry worker statue to sit along side the much-loved Jack statue in the woods, owned by Buxton Civic Association.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery curator Ros Westwood MBE says she wants the forgotten women to be remembered.

She says the campaign should act as a moment of reflection and make people think about how far women have come – but how much there is still left to do.

Curator Ros Westwood in the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

“Women have always worked in the industries which shaped our country like steel works, fishing, farming and of course quarrying but they have been written out of the history books,” she said.

"Whether this is because a woman’s place has been deemed to be in the home or they just weren’t important enough to note down, it doesn’t mean they weren’t at work.”

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The campaign aims to shine a light on female quarry workers over the years and Ros explained the working conditions were tough and so was family life.

She said: “A woman with a family to support had to find a way to feed and clothe her children. With no contraception there would have been babies and more mouths to feed more regularly so women would have to find a way and here in Buxton that was probably quarrying. She would have been working the labour heavy shifts just like the men.

"Noawadays people want a house with a TV and central heating but in the 19th century there would have only been one fire in a home and clothes would have been damp all the time – it wasn’t a nice way to live.

"We forget how hard it was, people and women especially didn’t have an easy life and there is no point looking back at the past with rose-tinted glasses. We need to learn from it and remember what has happened.

"As a curator my job is not to hide from our past but understand the baggage that history comes with and not shy away from the nasty stories.

"Women in the quarry would sadly not have had it easy. It would have been tough, hard and dirty work and they would still have had all the responsibilities of running a home too.”

Ros says she hopes this campaign connects with people on a emotional level.

She said: “It’s easy to walk past a statue and not think about the day to day difficulties faced by that person or the life they are representing.

"For me this campaign should be a memorial to all those women who came before us and how for many years they went unnoticed.”

The campaign currently sits at just under £2,000, almost half of the £4,000 needed to pay for the statue, created by the same sculptor who made Jack.

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