Women in Pictures – Part III: Between the wars by Janette Bell

For some time now I’ve been a volunteer in TWAM’s Documentation Team at Discovery.  I’ve been working with the TWAM online photo collection, and along the way I’ve found some great images of women I wanted to share.  Earlier this year I posted blogs featuring women before and during the Great War.  This time, I’d like to explore the period between the wars and next week I’ll be posting some photos taken during the Second World War.


Gloucester Road Victory Tea, 4 August 1919

Gloucester Road Victory Tea, 4 August 1919

Peace at last!  After years of terrible, attritional war and the loss of hundreds of thousands of young men, the Great War was over.  Out came the bunting, and up and down the country neighbours celebrated with Victory parties.  Women created food and fancy dress costumes out of whatever they could find, and looked forward to a return to normal life.

Women’s Suffrage organisations had been extremely active between 1900 and 1914, but during the war most of these groups had suspended their activity and supported the national effort.  Now they were able to take up their arguments again.  This, along with the visible contribution of women’s war work, helped to influence two important pieces of legislation in 1918.

Ellen Wilkinson

Ellen Wilkinson

Firstly, women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification gained the vote (it wasn’t until 1928 that all women over 21 would be able to vote).  Secondly, women also gained the right to be elected into Parliament for the first time.  This led to the north east seeing its first female MP step onto the stage: the Right Hon Ellen Wilkinson, who took Middlesbrough East for Labour in 1924.  A few years later she would become MP for Jarrow.  Remember that name, we’ll be coming back to her later.





For many ordinary women, war had brought great change – the Parliament website reports that in 1914, 24% of employed people were women but by 1918 this had risen to 37 per cent.  Many had worked in environments they would never have dreamed of.  This didn’t lead to an immediate overhaul of the workplace – the Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act 1919 meant that most women workers in engineering firms had to give up their jobs again, for instance.  But a wider range of occupations started to become available to women.

Employees at the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s printing works in Pelaw. Circa 1920s.

Employees at the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s printing works in Pelaw. Circa 1920s.

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Women’s dress reflected greater confidence and also the lighter mood in the country.  Corsets went out, giving a more comfortable and relaxed look.  Shorter skirts and dropped waists came into fashion and beading became popular on evening dresses.

The 1920s and 1930s saw the rise of a new entertainment medium – radio.  Public broadcasting began in 1922, and in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s radio ownership boomed.  People could now listen to live plays, music and comedy in their own homes.  Cinema was also on the up.  Purpose built ‘picture houses’ had begun to appear in 1910 and by 1914 most towns had one, but after the First World War a new wave of bigger and more luxurious cinemas started to appear, where for a few pennies people could escape for an afternoon or evening to a more glamorous world.  And of course there was still time to enjoy more traditional pastimes, such as a walk in the park or a day at the seaside.

Nunsmoor Park, Gateshead, c. 1920-1930

Nunsmoor Park, Gateshead, c. 1920-1930

A day at the beach, c. 1920-1930

A day at the beach, c. 1920-1930










But for most people in our area, life between the wars was still not easy.  The Twenties had begun with a short post-war boom, but soon the economy was struggling and the decade drew to a close in bleak uncertainty following the 1929 Wall Street Crash.  The 1930s brought deep economic depression, with the industrial north one of the worst hit regions, suffering c. 70% unemployment.   Jarrow was hit particularly hard with local industry suffering blow after blow and by 1936 most of the town’s men were unemployed.  The community was campaigning for a new steelworks to create jobs, and Ellen Wilkinson (remember her?) was at the heart of this campaign.

Nicknamed ‘Red Ellen’ for both her red hair and her politics, Ellen Cicely Wilkinson (1891 – 1947) came to the North East as M.P. for Middlesbrough East in 1924, then in 1935 became M.P. for Jarrow.  In October 1936 she was a crucial figure in organising the Jarrow Crusade, a ‘hunger march’ of 200 local men who walked 300 miles from Jarrow to London to present a petition for assistance to Parliament.

Wilkinson in action at a rally

Wilkinson in action at a rally

The Jarrow Crusade was not the first, or even the largest, hunger march of the era, but was distinguished by its respectability and cross party appeal and gathered wide sympathy en route.  Although no immediate improvements were brought about by the Crusade, it became an enduring symbol of working class dignity and suffering.  Wilkinson’s book ‘The Town That Was Murdered’ (1939) is her account of the event.

In the late 1930s, continuing social hardship across Europe created an opening for far right organisations to take hold and prosper, a development that would eventually lead to the Second World War.  Next week, in the final part of this blog, I’ll be delving into some of TWAM’s photos showing women’s experiences during the 1939-45 war.

If you’d like to see more photos from our collection, many can be viewed online using TWAM’s collections search engine.  To find more pictures of people, try typing ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ into the Theme box and see what comes up!

Paul Nash, a Romantic Surrealist

Landscape from a Dream 1936-8 Paul Nash 1889-1946 Tate, London. Photo © Tate, London, 2016

Landscape from a Dream 1936-8 by Paul Nash 1889-1946, Tate, London. Photo © Tate, London, 2016

This lovely picture, Landscape from a Dream, is a highlight of the surrealist-influenced pictures in the Paul Nash exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery, showing until 14 January. This painting is Nash’s attempt to capture the mystery and power of a dream. Its contradictory elements have aspects in common with surrealist paintings by artists such as Salvador Dali and René Magritte. The huge mirror facing us reveals an alternative reality featuring an extraordinary landscape with a huge globe in a red sky behind a line of small spheres with stalk-like shadows. Another sphere in front of the mirror creates a link between this strange land and the viewer’s space. Nash described the spheres as souls, and said that the hawk looking at its mirror image was part of the real world. (In actuality, the hawk was based on an Egyptian stone statuette that Nash owned.) Through the folding screen we see a view of the Dorset coast – Nash was fascinated by the strange forms of fossils and marine life in this area.

Nash’s emotional attachment to the English countryside was a feature of his art throughout his life. He described his feeling for landscape, saying, ‘There are places … whose relationship of parts creates a mystery, an enchantment, which cannot be analysed.’ Nash was a significant figure in the Neo-Romantic movement of the 1930s and ’40s.

'Landscape at Iden' 1929 by Paul Nash, Tate, London Photo © Tate, London 2016

‘Landscape at Iden’ 1929 by Paul Nash 1889-1946, Tate, London Photo © Tate, London 2016

One of Nash’s special places was Iden in Sussex, where he lived for several years. His painting Landscape at Iden shows the view from his studio window. The slanting perspective and out-of-scale objects in the composition reveal the influence of the Italian surrealist Giorgio de Chirico. The unreality of the scene is increased by the weird triangular shadow of the woodpile, as well as the screen propped up like a stage-flat on the right. Nash first saw de Chirico’s pictures in London in 1928, and said it was the beginning of ‘a new vision and a new style’ for him.

Nash was haunted by seeing the battlefield carnage of the First World War, and the leafless trees and cut logs in the scene may be references to the dead soldiers. Fallen trees were common metaphors for death at the time. Also, in Nash’s personal mythology, trees had the presence of people. Looking at the picture in this frame of mind, the logs sticking out of the left side of the woodpile start to look like gun barrels. Nash also included a snake wriggling along a fence post on the left, which adds a note of menace to the apparently calm scene.

Blue House on the Shore about 1930-1 Paul Nash 1889-1946 © Tate, London 2016

‘Blue House on the Shore’ about 1930-1 by Paul Nash 1889-1946, Tate, London. Photo © Tate, London 2016

De Chirico’s influence comes through strongly in Blue House on the Shore, where a huge, toy-like building dominates a beach (probably a view from Nash’s visit to the south of France in 1930).

Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935 Paul Nash 1889-1946 © Tate, London 2016

‘Equivalents for the Megaliths’ 1935 by Paul Nash 1889-1946, Tate, London. Photo © Tate, London 2016

Equivalents for the Megaliths is Nash’s reinterpretation of the standing stones at Avebury, a massive New Stone Age (Neolithic) site around 30 miles north of Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Surrealist and abstract influences both make an appearance in this picture as Nash attempts to recreate the visual surprise and mysterious presence of the huge stones (megaliths) in the landscape. These have been transformed into geometric shapes, placed incongruously on the regular lines of a stubble field after the wheat harvest. As we would expect, Nash has played with the perspective, joining the blocks in a perplexing combination.

The two remaining stones at the Cove, Avebury henge, Wiltshire. Photo by JimChampion, 2008, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, GNU Free Documentation License.

The two large stones at the Cove, Avebury henge, Wiltshire. Photo by Jim Champion, 2008, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, GNU Free Documentation License.

Barbury Hill Iron Age Fort, Wiltshire. Photo by Geotrekker72 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Barbary Castle Iron Age Fort, Wiltshire. Photo by Geotrekker72 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The stepped mound in the distance of the composition is probably Barbary Castle, an Iron Age hill fort, about 7 miles from Avebury. (During his career, Nash also often painted the Iron Age hill fort at Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire, though the trees there obscure the shape of the fort.) Nash had a deep feeling for England’s ancient heritage. He wanted to reveal ‘unseen landscapes’, and make people see familiar countryside and objects with fresh eyes.

‘The nest of wild stones’,1936 by Paul Nash 1889-1946, TGA 7050PH/536, © Tate, London 2016. Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

‘The nest of wild stones’ 1936 by Paul Nash 1889-1946, Tate, London. Photo © Tate, London 2016, Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

During the 1930s, Nash also explored surrealist techniques of using found objects and collage, trying to free the creative impulse of his unconscious mind. In the exhibition, there’s a fascinating group of Nash’s photographs, such as this image of The nest of wild stones, together with found objects that inspired him. There are also surrealist pieces on show by Eileen Agar, with whom Nash was working at the time.

‘Monster Field’ 1938 by Paul Nash 1889-1946, Photo © Tate, London 2016. reative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

‘Monster Field’ 1938 by Paul Nash 1889-1946 ,Tate, London. Photo © Tate, London 2016. Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

Nash’s imagination was also seized by ‘object personages’ that he discovered in the countryside. One of these, a fallen tree, inspired a series of photographs that he titled Monster Field.

Pillar and Moon 1932-42 Paul Nash 1889-1946 Tate, London. Photo © Tate, London 2016

‘Pillar and Moon’ 1932-42 by Paul Nash 1889-1946, Tate, London. Photo © Tate, London 2016. Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

Nash began his picture of Pillar and Moon during his main surrealist phase in the 1930s, and returned to it a few years before his death. Nash said that the stone ball on the pillar was a counterpart for the cold, lifeless ball of the moon, and he created a scene that has the uncanny quality of a dream. Nash had been fascinated by the mystery of night-time scenes since early in his career. In an essay on ‘Dreams’ (a typescript in the Tate Archive) he wrote, ‘The divisions we may hold between night and day – waking world and that of the dream, reality and the other thing, do not hold. They are penetrable, they are porous, translucent, transparent; in a word they are not there.’ Like many other of his surrealist compositions, Pillar and Moon brings together several strands in his art – mystery, dreams, and an emotional identification with English landscape.

The exhibition is organised by Tate Britain in association with the Laing Art Gallery and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. It is on show at the Laing Art Gallery until 14 January. The Paul Nash Exhibition Guidebook is available online and through the Gallery shop, £24.99.

Paul Nash and Landscape: Events at the Laing

Wednesday 1 November, 12.30-1.15pm: Paul Nash, Cultural Landscapes and Interwar Britain, with Ysanne Holt, Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at Northumbria University.
£4, students free.

Tuesday 14 November, 12.30-1.15pm: Paul Nash: Imagined Landscapeswith Emma Chambers, Curator Modern British Art, Tate, who curated the Paul Nash exhibition.

Thursday 23 November, 7-10pm: Laing by Night: Surrealism Set Loose
Experience the Laing like never before with this late event inspired by Surrealists like Paul Nash. Free your creativity with techniques the Surrealists used to access the subconscious.
£15 per person, exhibition entry included.


The Sound of the Singing Sands: Part 1

Inspired by a collection of ‘Singing Sand’ samples in the Great North Museum: Hancock rock collection and accounts of earlier research, I’ve been given the opportunity to dig a little deeper and visit some local beaches where the sand has been reported to sing.

Much of what has been written on the subject of musical sands describes the sounds that occasionally emanate from sand dunes. An account of booming dunes in the Great Desert of Arabia published in 1947 describes them as having: ‘a deep musical booming sound’, which was often triggered by a group or individual walking across the dunes.

Image: Sahara Booming Sand. NEWHM : 2005.H1192

Image: Sahara Booming Sand. NEWHM : 2005.H1192

In contrast, the singing of beach sands has been likened to whistling or squeaking. The singing sands at Camas Sgiotaig near Cleadale on Eigg are well-known. Hugh Miller (stonemason, geologist, author and editor), is credited with their discovery during a visit in 1844. Miller observed that when striking the sand obliquely with his foot, the resulting sound was ‘a shrill, sonorous note’. A full account of his visit to Eigg is recorded in The Cruise of the Betsey, published posthumously in 1858.

Image: The Cruise of the Betsy. Great North Museum: Hancock Library

Image: The Cruise of the Betsy. Great North Museum: Hancock Library

In 1887 during the first lecture of the season ‘Grains of Sand’ to the Bournemouth Society for Natural Science, Cecil Carus-Wilson described the discovery of ‘musical’ sand on the beach at a spot between Studland Bay and Poole Harbour in Dorset, which ‘gives out a distinct note when walked upon or agitated by the hand or a stick.’ In his November 1888 lecture, he stated ‘This sample here is musical sand from Studland Bay. You will doubtless be disappointed to find that our local sounding sand cannot compete with the Eigg sand in point of musical attainments.’ At that time he was not aware of other singing sand deposits in Europe, but received a number of notifications regarding occurrences of musical sands (for example, at Arneil Bay in Ayrshire), following the publication of a letter in Nature (1888), entitled ‘Sonorous Sand in Dorsetshire’.

Image: Eigg beach sand. NEWHM : 2005.H1341

Image: Eigg beach sand. NEWHM : 2005.H1341

Closer to home Dr. J. Carrick Murray (in Tomlinson’s Guide to Northumberland 1888) writes:

‘Singing sands are to be found at Whitley, on the way to St. Mary’s Island. This sound is not musical, but rather a harsh whirring, or as Miller, in his Cruise of the Betsy, calls it, a ‘woo, woo, woo’. It is most marked when walking over, or rather through, the high dry oolitic sand beyond the slipping stones at the Briar Dene, just below where the volunteers encamp’.

Local research during the 1960s pinpointed several sites along the Northumberland coast where the sand has been reported to sing, including locations near Seaton Sluice and Blyth where it was observed that the sand ‘sang on the beach’. This project involved the acquisition of more than 150 sand samples, both local and worldwide, which are housed in the Natural History Society of Northumbria petrology collection.

Image: Blyth A ‘sang on beach’. NEWHM : 2005.H1336

Image: Blyth A ‘sang on beach’. NEWHM : 2005.H1336

In 1973, Ridgeway and Scotton found ‘whistling sand’ at 33 places in Britain, including Bamburgh and Cullercoats in Northumberland, as a result of personal investigation and letters received. They were reasonably confident that their list was complete, having taken the trouble to investigate beaches adjacent to any that they knew to ‘whistle’.

Image: Bamburgh, Northumberland

Image: Bamburgh, Northumberland

The next stage of the project involves visiting local beaches where the sand has previously been found to sing. Working with Tim Shaw of Newcastle University who has the expertise to record the sound of the singing sands, this will be an interesting opportunity to explore the possibility of experiencing this curious phenomenon.

To be continued…

Thank you to John Cresswell of Bournemouth Natural Science Society for information pertaining to the singing sand research of Cecil Carus-Wilson.

Selected References

  • Cruise of the Betsey.  H. Miller 1858
  • “Musical sand” C. Carus-Wilson.  Bournemouth Soc. Nat. Sci. 2 (1888): 1-20.
  • Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland.  W.W. Tomlinson 1888.
  • Mystery of Singing Sands.  E.R. Yarham.  Natural History Magazine 1947.
  • MUSICAL SAND Part 1   The Singing Sands of the Seashore.  A.E. Brown, W.A. Campbell, D.A. Robson and E.R. Thomas.  Proceedings of the University of Durham Philosophical Society. 1961.
  • Whistling Sand Beaches in the British Isles.  K. Ridgeway and J.B. Scotton.  Nature Vol. 238 1972.

‘Vote Leave’ campaign to remain in the South Shields Museum & Art Gallery collection – A guest post by work placement student Ellen Mackenzie

EU Flag from the Discovery Museum collections

EU Flag from the Discovery Museum collections

On 23 June 2016, the people of the UK swarmed to polling stations to cast their vote on the future of the UK within the European Union. The turn out to polls was incredibly high with 72.2% of the population voting, perhaps as a result of the ubiquitous ‘Brexit’ media coverage in the months leading up to the referendum. The decision was made with 51.9% of votes, that the UK would leave the EU.

The North East region voted in favour of leaving, and had one of the highest proportions of leave votes in the country with a 58% majority. Within this, South Tyneside voted to leave by 62%. As a means of recording this momentous event, I have been helping South Shields Museum & Art Gallery to accession into their collections a selection of ephemera that was distributed in Tyne & Wear in the lead up to the referendum.

Image 3 TWCMS_2016_1961

Image 2 TWCMS_2016_1969








Badges now in the South Shields collection from the ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ and ‘Vote Leave’ campaigns.

The prevalence of the referendum in South Shields was visible on King Street as this ‘Vote Leave’ banner was found hanging on a wall by the Metro.

Vote Leave Banner found hanging on King Street, in South Shields collection

Vote Leave Banner found hanging on King Street, in South Shields collection

The banner was found by Adam Bell, History Keeper at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery, who recognised the opportunity to take the banner into the South Shields collection.

The items that have been collected also consist of many leaflets that Adam  received by campaigners on the street, or in the post at his home address in South Shields. Bell received leaflets from the two official campaigns set up for the referendum, ‘Vote Leave’ and ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’, in addition to leaflets issued by organisations endorsing the leave vote such as UKIP, and organisations endorsing the remain vote such as HM Government and the Labour Party.

Leaflet issued by Labour endorsing the vote to stay in the EU

Leaflet issued by Labour endorsing the vote to stay in the EU

Away from South Shields, the ‘Vote Leave’ and ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ campaigns were also present in Newcastle upon Tyne on 16 April 2016, as Boris Johnson visited the city to speak at a ‘Vote Leave’ rally in Times Square, where there were reports of pro-EU hecklers. Additionally, around this time campaigners from both sides were spotted near Monument Metro station by Bell, handing out leaflets and the ‘Vote Leave’ badge that you can see pictured above. Having collected a ‘Vote Leave’ badge, South Shields Museum & Art Gallery decided to purchase a ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ badge to balance out the museum’s collection of ‘Brexit’ ephemera.

Unlike the Labour party’s public stance for remaining in the EU, the leading political party proved to be split by the two campaign sides. The ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ campaign was backed by then Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, whereas the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign was backed by Conservative MP Boris Johnson, and Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove.

What is evident from the campaign leaflets that have been collected is an emphasis on supposed ‘facts’ about what would happen to the UK either way. Both campaign sides can be seen to promote information and statistics about the UK and the EU, and these ‘facts’ were rallied back and forth across the media at the time.  There were claims that UK trade would flourish outside of the EU against claims that worker’s rights would no longer be protected. The below leaflets from the

‘Leave.Eu’ and ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ campaigns show some of the opposing ‘facts’ that were argued by both sides.

Leaflet from 'Leave.Eu' campaign

Leaflet from ‘Leave.Eu’ campaign

'Britain Stronger in Europe' leaflet endorsing the remain vote

‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ leaflet endorsing
the remain vote



'Leave.Eu' leaflet endorsing the leave vote

‘Leave.Eu’ leaflet endorsing the leave vote








One of the many arguments by both sides was that the NHS would be better off:

'Vote Leave' campaign leaflet claiming that leaving the EU will allow more money to be spent on the NHS

‘Vote Leave’ campaign leaflet claiming that leaving the EU will allow more money to be spent on the NHS











'Britain Stronger in Europe' campaign leaflet claiming that staying in the EU will protect the NHS

‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ campaign leaflet claiming that staying in the EU will protect the NHS








The battle of these opposing facts and figures undoubtedly led to confusion over what would actually happen if the UK did leave the EU. This led to Michael Gove’s controversial quote that Britons have ‘had enough of experts’ becoming renowned for somewhat reflecting a public disenchantment with the onslaught of contradictory ‘facts’ and opinions on the subject.

Despite the abundance of ‘facts’ that were presented by both campaign sides about the UK’s fate outside of the EU, as I write this over a year after the referendum, the ‘Brexit’ negotiations are still taking place and the future of the UK outside of the EU remains unsure.

Although it is unknown what will happen in the future, taking these contemporary items into the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums collections will ensure that for generations to come people can reflect upon what happened during this time. Contemporary collecting is therefore significant as it allows the organisation to continue to document the story of the people of the North East into the present day. This ‘Brexit’ campaign ephemera will remain in the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums collections so that future generations can observe the rhetoric of the political campaigns that led to a majority vote for the UK to leave the European Union. Keeping up with historical events such as this is crucial for museums to stay relevant to their communities and to facilitate learning about North East life for posterity.

As a result of contemporary collecting the impact the European Union has had on the people of Tyneside can also be traced back in the Tyne & Wear Museum & Archives collections. For example, in the year 2000 Jesus Angel Miguel Garcia donated the European Union flag that you can see pictured at the top of this blog post, alongside the following narrative:

A European scholarship changed the direction of my life when it allowed me to come to Newcastle in 1991. It gave me the chance to broaden my horizons and to meet people from all over the world. Since then, I have tried to make a positive contribution to the communities of Newcastle where I have worked and lived all this time. (Garcia, 2000)

This narrative tells the story of some of the positive impact the European Union had on its citizens during Britain’s membership. This can sit alongside the new collection of ‘Brexit’ items to provide a bigger picture of the history of Britain’s time in the EU.

‘Shields Lass’ to ‘Land Girl’ – guest post by placement student Christina Hamilton

During my time at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery as a history volunteer, I have come across some wonderful items. My favourite item was a Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps badge for a woman named Frances Blackburn (nee Shone). Although objects alone are lovely to work with, it is always nice when you get to know about its past and the people associated with it. The badge was especially interesting as the daughter-in-law of the owner was the person who donated the item, along with a newspaper article about her mother in law, Frances Blackburn, and her time as a ‘Land Girl’ in the Women’s Land Army (WLA).

Frances Blackburn, Women's Land Army. Taken from the newspaper clipping sent in with the badge.

Frances Blackburn, Women’s Land Army. Taken from the newspaper clipping sent in with the badge.

The Women’s Land Army

The Women’s Land Army was a civilian organisation which allowed women to take over agricultural work when the men left for war, during the First and Second World War. These woman were known as ‘Land Girls’.

Shields Lass

Frances was born in South Shields on Brabourne Street in November 1905 and died at the age of 102 in 2008, making her one of the oldest ‘Land Girls’. She went to Stanhope Road School and when she was a young women she worked in service for a family who ran a brickwork company in Boldon.

Land Girl

The newspaper article that accompanied the badge and certificate gave detail into the life of Frances Blackburn and her time in the Women’s Land Army. The article states that she became a land girl in 1943, during the Second World War, working on farms and other jobs on the land to replace the men who worked them, after they left to fight for their country.

Medal and Certificate

In 2008, her daughter in law applied on her behalf to receive a medal for her efforts as a ‘Land Girl’ which she received, accompanied by a certificate from the Prime Minister at the time, Gordon Brown. The certificate states;

The Government wishes to express to you its profound gratitude for your unsparing efforts as a loyal and devoted member of the Women’s Land Army/Women’s Timber Corps at a time when our Country depended upon you for its survival’.

The certificate to Frances, signed by Gordon Brown

The certificate to Frances, signed by Gordon Brown

The badge awarded to Frances Blackburn

The badge awarded to Frances Blackburn










After the Women’s Land Army

Obviously a very caring woman, after Frances left the Land Army, she stayed home to look after her ill mother, and when she died, Frances started working at Harton Dye Works, close to home in South Shields, until she married in 1964. In the article, Mrs Samanjoul said that Frances used to say, ‘what will be will be, always look on the bright side and keep the faith’ and she said that ‘nothing ever fazed her in life’.

Frances Blackburn certainly is a heroine of South Shields.

Frances Blackburn on her 100th birthday. Taken from the newspaper clipping sent in with the badge.

Frances Blackburn on her 100th birthday. Taken from the newspaper clipping sent in with the badge.