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.

Kirsty Wark in Parliament Square

Listen to the Women and Power podcast series, featuring Quarry Bank

Download and listen to the five-part Women and Power podcast series, exploring the fight for women's suffrage and its legacy. Presented by Kirsty Wark, the series visits some of the National Trust places most associated with women's suffrage, and features many of the women that you can discover more about in the Lost Voices exhibition.

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. 

Visitors on a Lost Voices exhibition tour

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 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 and to curate the exhibition. 

Illustration of Charlotte Marsh with quote about suffragette activity

Hear both sides of the debate in Quarry Bank House

The question of women's suffrage was one of the hottest political topics of the early twentieth century. In an exhibition of work by illustrator and cartoonist Jacky Fleming in Quarry Bank House, you can explore both sides of the debate. Hear from famous figures of the day, including politician and aristocrat George Curzon and suffragette Annie Kenney. In an interactive digital experience you can also delve deeper into the real stories of the women featured in the Lost Voices exhibition.

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

Mill Trail: Become a Factory Inspector

Tue 21 May 2019
10:30-16:00
Become a factory inspector and have a go at our family trail around the mill created by children’s author Philip Ardagh.

Rights of the Child

Tue 21 May 2019
10:30-17:00
In this new exhibition, explore the experiences of the hundreds of children who worked at Quarry Bank and discover how children's rights have changed over time.

Have-a-go - Nature Explorers

Sat 25 May 2019
13:00-15:00
Every month in Spring 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.

May half-term - Right to Play Around the World

Mon 27 May 2019
11:00-16:00
Play your way around the world this half-term as we explore different games from across the globe.

Baby and Toddler - Storytelling and Play session

Sat 08 Jun 2019
09:30-10:15
Bring your little ones to Quarry Bank for a special storytelling and play session just for them. Suitable for children 6 months - 4 years. Please book your tickets in advance.

Outdoor Theatre: Treasure Island

Thu 04 Jul 2019
19:00-21:30
Join Chapterhouse Theatre Company for this brand-new adaptation of everyone's favourite swashbuckling pirate adventure: Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.