'We’re all proud about what we achieved. We changed the law. We had to. It was just our job at the end of the day.' Sheila Douglass, Ford Dagenham 1968 striker
In August 2016, The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, set out to find the inspiring stories of women working at Ford Dagenham during 1968-1984 who fought for equal pay and changed history. We want to celebrate our incredible local herstory by sharing with you this unforgettable story of courage, camaraderie and conflict, told and created by women of all ages in Dagenham Barking and Havering.
‘The first 'official' interview I helped to conduct was with Dora, Geraldine and Pam, three chatty women who succeeded in bringing the story to life for me. They were filled with such a passion for what they had experienced and achieved.’ Jess Avery, Women’s Stories Young Volunteer
With the support of volunteers from the local community, we took to the streets, fliers in hand, to find women who had a story to tell. After an eight-week search, we found many of the extraordinary women who led the fight: we met their sisters, brothers, husbands and sons. We heard stories from their daughters and friends, and we have recorded these stories so that hundreds of other people can listen to them.
Join us on this extraordinary journey and delve into the world that was Ford Dagenham; the friendships forged and the fight fought until victory.
We ask you: how much longer
must we wait until women receive
equal pay within Britain’s
‘I wonder why women are still
struggling! They’ve got be strong.
It’s like having a bad illness.
You can’t think negative, you have
to think positive. You have every
right.’ Theresa Taylor, 1968 Ford
‘I wanted to meet the iconic women who had made such huge strides in women’s rights.’
Lauren Coutts, Women’s Stories Community Volunteer & interviewee
Celebrating women: Women’s Stories of Ford Dagenham involved women from every generation and created an opportunity for us to celebrate their achievements.
Celebrating our community: We brought together women of all ages from Barking, Dagenham and Havering encouraging the direct passing down of herstory from one woman to another. These women grew up within the same neighbourhoods, attended the same schools and were even born in the same hospitals.
Celebrating our community’s next generation of women: We recruited and trained 10 inspiring young women aged 16-18 years old living in Barking, Dagenham and Havering to interview, record and collect our stories.
Uncovering a legacy: we want these stories to be as accessible as possible for as long as possible. They will be archived in Valence House Museum.
Uncovering the truth behind the 1984 ‘Forgotten Strike’: we wanted this project to represent the women who fought in the 1984 strike and for these stories to be told at the forefront.
Uncovering women’s inequality in 2017: how far we have come since the Equal Pay Act of 1970 and how much further do we need to go until equal pay is achieved for all?
‘As soon as I heard about this project, I knew I wanted to be involved. The opportunity to talk to the women who were involved in and drove the strikes was something I simply could not let pass me by. I wanted to learn about the stories of the women who fought for recognition and equality and see whether they could give us any advice on how to continue their fight.’ Jess Avery, Women’s Stories Young Volunteer
With support from Havering Youth Services, My Place and Barking and Dagenham College, we recruited and trained 10 young women aged 16-18 years old to conduct and record interviews with the women, encouraging the direct passing down of herstory from one woman to another.Trained in partnership with the British Library, each volunteer led on interviewing at least one Women’s Stories workshop. There were also weekly development workshops with project coordinator, Lucy Curtis, at the theatre about the importance of documenting herstory, creating documentary theatre and curating their very own community exhibitions. Each volunteer was given a project diary at the beginning of the project to document the process and to feedback on what they learned. Here are some of their thoughts:
‘Ten words to describe the project: Empowering, enlightening, interesting, insightful, humbling, educational, opportunistic, exciting, & full of passion!’ Amy Mellows, Women’s Stories Young Volunteer
'Heartfelt. I developed friendships, an appreciation for women and was challenged out of comfort zone’
Ellie Hutley, Women’s Stories Young Volunteer
‘I left feeling empowered, with a new sense of confidence’
Lauren Coutts, Women’s Stories Young Volunteer