Match Girls’ Strike of 1888 commemorated with blue plaque in East London

·2-min read
Match Girls Strike of 1888 granted blue plaque in East London (PA)
Match Girls Strike of 1888 granted blue plaque in East London (PA)

The Match Girls’ Strike of 1888 has been commemorated with a blue plaque at the site of the former Bryant and May match factory in East London.

The strikes took place in early July 1888 and saw around 1,400 of the Bryant and May match factory's female workforce walk out in protest at the dismissal of a number of their co-workers.

Now an English Heritage blue plaque has been installed at the site to commemorate the event that is now recognised as a trigger to the New Unionism movements which helped develop the trade union agenda.

Discussing the new plaque, English Heritage blue plaques panel member Alex Graham said: “At a time when workers are once more striking in defence of pay and conditions, it feels timely to be standing today outside this iconic East London factory commemorating the Match Girls: 1,400 young, working class women, many of them immigrants or daughters of immigrants, who refused to put up with low wages and dangerous working conditions.

 

“They won and, in doing so, they changed the course of British labour history."

Adding: "English Heritage wants to commemorate more working class stories, so if there is a remarkable figure or group from the past – like the women who led the Match Girls’ Strike – who you think should be recognised in London, we’d like to hear from you.”

Former Eastenders actress and patron of the Matchgirls Memorial Anita Dobson attended the unveiling of the plaque in Londons East End.

The 73 who played Angie Watts in the BBC One soap said: "These girls and women fought hard for their rights.

“They worked in appalling conditions and their lives were tough and the worst imaginable.

“I grew up aware of the courage and bravery of these women who against all odds went on strike for better working conditions.

“Many of them died an early death due to the phosphorous fumes in the factory.

“They deserve to be honoured and remembered, and now they will be.”

The blue plaque to commemorate the Match Girls’ Strike is the latest addition to the more than 980 English Heritage blue plaques dotted across Greater London.

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