11am – 5pm
A yearly event held now in the high street. Many years ago it was held at the Blackcounrty museum, then at Bearmore Park. The festival is jointly organised by the Midlands Region of the TUC and Sandwell council.
The festival celebrates the achievements of 800 women Chainmakers who in 1910 fought to establish a minimum wage for their labour. The local employers sought to deny them their rights but were met with forceful opposition, They were led by Mary Macarthur, who founded the National Federation of Women Workers and later stood for Parliament as a Labour candidate.
The day follows much the same routine every year now that it is in the high street. Music followed by unionist speakers, a re-enactment of the chainmakers strike, Mary Macarthur speech, more music, a brass band who then lead the banner procession to Macathur park where there is a worker picnic, music and more speeches. Every year Billy Spakemon sings strong arms and every year Stacey Bylthe sings the chainmakers song.
For the little ones there is a small funfair, normally two rides and face painting, ice-cream van, and what are bravely called stalls. Most of which are trade union bags and buttons, some pretty grotty looking raffle prizes and I think this year jam, but I wouldn’t swear to that.
Every year I go expecting it to be better that the year before and every year I am disappointed. Still as a one off it is very interesting, its just a case of once you’ve been that’s it you need never go again.