The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is delighted to announce it has received a £12,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new project, Women’s Stories of Ford Dagenham.

This project runs in conjunction with the Queen’s Theatre’s newly-opened production of Made in Dagenham, a musical celebrating a momentous piece of local history and the women who led the fight for equal pay in the 1968 strikes at the Ford Dagenham plant.

Women’s Stories of Ford Dagenham will tell the stories of women who worked at the Ford plant between 1968 and 1984 and the Queen’s Theatre is appealing for people – male and female – to come forward with their memories of this time.

The project seeks to explore how Ford created a community for its workers, whether it still does today, and the reasons behind wanting to work for Ford. The Theatre wants to learn more about the struggles felt solely due to gender, and the relationships between male and female colleagues.

Women’s Stories of Ford Dagenham is looking for stories that can help everyone understand what true working life was like at Ford, how this differed from home life, and how important the plant was – and still is – in shaping the lives of the communities within Dagenham, Barking and Havering.

“We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and celebrating the historical achievements and legacy of so many women in our community,” says Lucy Curtis, who is heading up the initiative.

She adds: “We’re excited to hear stories about the collective and individual struggles during and after the strikes of 1968. We want to know: what did it take to walk out and stay out of work for three weeks? Did you feel supported? How much belief did you have in your fight? We are also interested in knowing what a normal working day was like for you and why you decided to work for Ford. Why did you decide to leave Ford and how did it feel to go?

“Women’s Stories of Ford Dagenham wants to include all women who had a connection with the plant. Perhaps you know or knew someone who worked at Ford – a relative, friend or neighbour – and would like to share their story on their behalf. We are interested in hearing from anyone, male or female, who has a connection to this time.”

This initiative will culminate in a wide-reaching, multi-faceted exhibition about the lives of these incredible local women who changed history.

Stuart Hobley, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “HLF is pleased to support the Women’s Stories of Ford Dagenham project. Thanks to National Lottery players, the stories of those who worked on the Ford Dagenham plant and helped fight for female sewing machinists to be recognised as skilled workers will have their stories told. This significant moment in local history will now be preserved for generations to come.”

Anyone interested in taking part should visit the Women’s Stories of Ford Dagenham page on this website, or call the Learning and Participation Department on 01708 462373 or write to: Women’s Stories of Ford Dagenham, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, Billet Lane, Hornchurch, RM11 1QT.

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