This Talk given by by Melissa Barnett of Chippenham Museum is about the extraordinary life of Dame Florence Handcock
Dame Florence rose from poverty in the town to a life in the trade union movement.
One of 16 children, she was the daughter of Jacob and Mary Hancock, weavers at the local cloth mill.
She attended Westmead School until the age of 12 when she left to work in the kitchen of a local cafe for three shillings a week.
At the age of 14, she went to work at the Nestle Condensed Milk Factory, where in 1913 she helped organise a strike for a living wage – the very first factory strike in the town.
A life in the trade union movement followed, first with the Workers’ Union and then the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU), for whom she was National Woman Officer.
In 1949, Dame Florence was elected the second female president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
She died in 1974 having lived long enough to see her life’s work, equal pay for men and women, become law in Britain.
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