Historic women of Lancashire appear in new booklet

28 March 2018

Lancashire women from Burnley’s Angela James and Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth to Blackburn’s Barbara Castle and Kathleen Ferrier are some of the amazing women who have lived near the Calder Valley Railway Line and are included in a new booklet.

To mark the special significance of 2018 for women, an imaginative booklet ‘Discover Amazing Women by Rail’ is being launched on Tuesday 27 March at 1pm at Gaskell House, 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester. Part of the Marvellous Days Out series, the booklet highlights the extraordinary lives of women – both known and unknown – who have lived in 32 towns, villages or cities with stations along the Mid-Cheshire line (Chester to Manchester) and Calder Valley Railway Line (Leeds to Manchester). This free booklet, features write-ups and illustrations about the women as well as information about nearbyattractions, some of which, like the women, are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The booklet aims be a starting point to explore the North’s history and attractions by rail and can be downloaded here .

Jointly produced by the Mid-Cheshire Community Rail Partnership, Friends of Littleborough Station and Community Rail Lancashire with support from the Association of Community Rail Partnerships*, the booklet includes famous Northern women such as Emmeline Pankhurst (Manchester), Halifax author Anne Lister as well as Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte (Bradford). Less well known, but equally extraordinary Lancashire women, are Burnley’s women, Angela James (campaigner) and Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth (embroiderer and lace maker). Blackburn is represented by politician Barbara Castle and singer Kathleen Ferrier. Beautifully sketched illustrations of many of the women are by Cheshire artist, Nicky Thompson** and the booklet has been researched by historian, Richard Lysons who gives information on where and how to do further research and follow-up reading.

Simon Clarke, Community Rail Partnership Lancashire, said: “When you are sitting on a train it is not easy to appreciate what lies just beyond the station. Following the success of last Summer’s 1930s-style posters along the Chester to Piccadilly line, we wanted to find another way of encouraging people to step off the train and explore hidden histories, whether people’s lives or places. This eclectic mix of amazing women, who embody courage, intelligence, femininity and passion, was too good not to explore but so was the chance to highlight fantastic, often hidden gems in each place on the rail line, such as the Pankhurst Centre (Manchester) Rochdale’s Pioneers Museum, the Heptonstall Museum (Hebden Bridge), Shibden Hall (Halifax) as well as Burnley’s Gawthorpe HallTowneley Hall and Weaver’s Triangle Visitors’ Centre.”

Illustrations show : Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, Barbara Castle and Kathleen Ferrier.

Burnley: Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth (1886 – 1967) Embroiderer & lace maker
Rachel was the last of her family to live at Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham. She was a talented embroiderer and lace maker; both skills inherited from her mother. At the age of nine, she began to put together what is today the Gawthorpe Textile Collection. She meticulously recorded each item with its date and country of origin. Rachel also aimed to pass on her knowledge and wisdom through teaching and lecturing on the value of crafts. She was also involved in the Girl Guide movement and many other activities.

Angela James (1872 – 1967) Campaigner
Angela was sister to Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth and also grew up at Gawthorpe Hall. After travelling in Europe, she married Captain Bernard James. The poverty in London affected her and Angela became a manager (governor) of a group ofschools in London. She took an interest in special educational needs and the care of those with learning disabilities. While her husband was posted in the USA, Angela studied the benefits of milk pasteurization and helped to introduce its use in Britain. She was also concerned with infant welfare in her adopted county of Buckinghamshire. Angela maintained her involvement in social and health campaigning right up to her death.

Blackburn: Kathleen Ferrier (1912 – 1953) Singer
Kathleen was born in Higher Walton in Lancashire and lived at 32 Hoghton Lane (PR5 4EB) where a bronze plaque can be seen. The family moved to Blackburn when her father was appointed headmaster of St Paul’s School. Kathleen initially showed promise as a pianist and entered local competitions with some success. She left school and trained as a  telephonist. In 1937 Kathleen won prizes for both piano playing and singing at the Carlisle Festival. She began to sing professionally, performing on stage and on the radio. Kathleen tured the USA and Europe to great acclaim and recorded extensively. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer and died aged only 41. Today, Kathleen’s recordings are still popular and continue to sell in large quantities.

Barbara Castle (1910 – 2002) Politician
Barbara was born in Chesterfield and brought up in Yorkshire. She joined the Labour Party as a teenager and became more involved in politics at Oxford University. Barbara was elected MP for Blackburn in 1945, a seat that she held for 34 years. Barbara served as Minister of Transport and Employment. After leaving Parliament, she served in the European Parliament for ten years. In 1990 Barbara was made a life peer, becoming Baroness Castle of Blackburn.

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