The Queens of Industry at Leeds Industrial Museum

Today, we are used to seeing strong females – since the rise of girl power and an undying amount of love for the Spice Girls in the 90s.

Leeds Industrial Museum’s new exhibition Queens of Industry, focuses on telling the stories of the women who were elected to represent some of Britain’s greatest industries. (You go, girls!)

What is an industry queen?

Britain is renowned for its pageantry and this was a trend that was latched on to by major industries (rail, coal, textile, etc.) in the early 20th century. The major players used this to their advantage by electing a ‘queen’ from their workers to represent them, in order to give the industry a female voice and just to give it a bit more glamour.

Between 1920 to 1980 a sea of railway queens, coal queens and textile queens achieved fame – with their lives changing dramatically because of the experience. The exhibition at Leeds Industrial Museum, which starts on the 3rd November 2017, showcases the untold stories of the young, working-class women who were involved.

The idea behind the exhibition came from a visitor named Doreen Kerfoot, who revealed that she was the first Yorkshire Wool Queen back in 1947. Now in her nineties, Doreen went from being an ordinary young weaver with a talent for singing to starring in a promotional film for the wooden industry and being given the opportunity to sing professionally!

The exhibition uncovers many more stories like Doreen’s, and each individual queen featured has a unique tale to tell. Some went to Blackpool to switch on the illuminations, while other travelled as far as Russia to meet Stalin on behalf of their industry.

So, if you’re intrigued by women’s history, then head on down to Armley next month and enter the world of the Queens of Industry!

Queens of Industry opens at Leeds Industrial Museum on 3 November 2017, for more information visit: