By Brenda Smethurst - 23rd October 2018 6:05am
A Crewe Factory Girl — the life of Ada Nield Chew.
Last Thursday evening, Graham Dodd gave another of his excellent and well-researched talks to Audlem History Society. Ada Nield Chew had long been a subject of fascination to Graham, and on his retirement he had intended to write her biography, only to find that he had been beaten to it by Ada's daughter, Doris.
Graham gave us a potted biographical history of the "Red-Headed Thrawn", as Ada was known, who was born in Staffordshire in 1870 to a poor, working-class family. At the age of 24, whilst working in a Crewe clothing factory, Ada came to national attention as the anonymous writer of a series of extremely well-written and articulate letters, published by the Crewe Chronicle, describing the working conditions and pay of the factory girls. These girls were paid very much less than their male counterparts.
Once Ada's identity was revealed, she and the other sympathizers were sacked, though the Factory later agreed to accept a union, and re-instated the dismissed girls.
Ada went on to become a member of the Nantwich Board of Guardians, who administered the Poor Law Relief and the Workhouse. Then in 1896 she married George Chew, and they travelled throughout the North East in their "Clarion Van", spreading their socialist beliefs, eventually settling in Rochdale. From 1911-1914, Ada engaged in Suffrist activities, but she deprecated physical force and was a pacifist.
Graham is a very accomplished speaker, and easily conveyed to his audience his great enthusiasm
for his subject. The evening ended with a very lively question and answer session.
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