Discover the Lost Voices of Quarry Bank

Archive image of 3 women in Styal village

In 1918 the lives of women in Britain were changed forever when they were granted the right to vote. Except that right wasn’t granted to every woman. Only those who were over 30, married or owned property received the vote; about 40% of the female population. The majority of women at Quarry Bank and across Britain had to wait another 10 years to be granted a legal voice. From 3 March – 7 October 2018, we’re exploring the Lost Voices of Quarry Bank - the women who weren’t heard at the time, and who often remain lost to us today because of their age, status or means.

Women from every background


Quarry Bank was a community of people that spanned the social and political spectrum. Each individual woman, from mill worker to mill owner, has her own story to tell about suffrage. In a series of installations, we’ve highlighted some of these experiences and are hearing the voices of incredible women who could so easily have been lost to the historical record.


Following the trail around Quarry Bank, you can meet Alice Dowson, the granddaughter of Samuel and Hannah Greg and a passionate suffragist. Alice campaigned for the vote for more than a quarter of a century, and was 73 when it was finally granted to her. Nancy Johnson was never so lucky. A millworker and important member of the Styal community, Nancy was instrumental in setting up the Co-operative Society in Styal, yet her contribution was barely recorded. She died in 1878, but had she been alive in 1918 she still wouldn’t have been granted the vote. 
 

Tour guide delivering guided tour to visitors

Join a Lost Voices tour

On Fridays and the second and fourth Saturday of each month, you can join one of our interpreters on a Lost Voices tour of Quarry Bank. Get new insights into the lives of the women featured in Lost Voices, and find out more about the fight for women to get the vote.

Uncovering women’s voices


To create Lost Voices, we’ve teamed up with the University of Manchester. The exhibition has been curated by Dr Ruth Colton who, with the help of two postgraduate students, has been delving into our archive to discover more about the women of Quarry Bank. 

Archive image of Lancashire and Cheshire Delegates of the Women's Franchise Deputation to the Prime Minister

Meet the exhibition curator

You can meet Ruth at a special ‘talk and tea’ event on Saturday 3 March as we launch Lost Voices. Ruth will be discussing the themes of the exhibition in an event which is part of Manchester’s Wonder Women festival. Book your tickets below. In June Ruth and our archives team will be hosting a collections object handling event as part of Manchester Histories Festival.

Writing women back in


As part of Lost Voices and sponsored by Trust New Art, we’ve commissioned a writer-in-residence to respond to the stories and themes of the exhibition with new works of fiction. Beth Underdown, author of ‘The Witchfinder’s Sister’, will be in residency at Quarry Bank this spring, and will be writing new work that will be presented at Manchester Literature Festival in October 2018.

Mill workers in uniform going to fight in World War I

Did you know...

1918 also marked an important turning point in the fight for male suffrage. It was the first time that all men over the age of 21 were granted the right to vote, without further age or property qualifications. The voting age was only lowered to 18 in 1969, and debate rages on about giving the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.

Upcoming events

Explore the Outdoors

Thu 22 Feb 2018
10:30-16:00
Head outside and discover all the wonderful wildlife and amazing family adventures you can have in the gardens and woodland at Quarry Bank.

February half-term - Welly Walks

Thu 22 Feb 2018
12:30-13:00
Get your wellies on and take a walk on the wild side this February half-term. Explore the gardens and woodland at Quarry Bank with an interactive, exciting and wild walk for all the family.

Have-a-go: Nature Explorers

Sat 24 Feb 2018
13:00-15:00
Every month you can have a go at a wild outdoor activity at Quarry Bank. From pond-dipping to wild art, there's always a new adventure to enjoy.

Lost Voices

Sat 03 Mar 2018
10:30-16:00
Lost Voices explores the experiences of women whose stories were not heard, and which are often lost to us today because of their age, status or means. Installations across Quarry Bank will bring their voices to life.

Lost Voices Launch Event

Sat 03 Mar 2018
11:00-16:00
Explore the lost voices of Quarry Bank's women with a special tour, an opportunity to meet our writer-in-residence and a special performance from AbouTime Dance Company.

Lost Voices Launch Event - Talk and tea with Dr Ruth Colton

Sat 03 Mar 2018
13:00-15:00
Dr Ruth Colton from the University of Manchester will be hosting a talk with tea and cake, exploring the themes of Lost Voices and how they relate to women's experiences today.