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Political Patchworks 2 June/September 1991

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An exhibition of 23 quilts, each 6ft x 6ft, made by the community of Silverdale, North Staffordshire, to commemorate Fanny Deakin (1883-1968), Silverdale’s extraordinary spokeswoman and political activist.

Fanny Deakin was a founder member of the Labour Party in Silverdale, becoming the first woman councillor on the Wolstanton Urban District Council in 1921.  A miners wife, she was a champion of local people and fought for better conditions, particularly for women and children. In 1947 a maternity hospital was named after her.

The quilts exhibited were only a selection of hundreds made by the people of Silverdale, which were eventually to be sewn together to make a single quilt. This single quilt would then be large enough to stretch around the village of Silverdale and raise funds for a play about Fanny Deakin.

                     Women of Silverdale and a quilt

                                 The women of Silverdale with one of the quilts

In 1991 Joyce Holliday wrote "Go See Fanny Deakin!" in which Fanny Deakin appears as the heroine in a play centred on the mining community of Silverdale. It was subsequently broadcast by BBC local radio. Holliday also wrote "Silverdale People" which included a biography of Fanny Deakin. Staffordshire County Council holds a collection of Fanny Deakin’s papers in its Newcastle Library.

The exhibition of Fanny Deakin quilts was accompanied by a series of open workshops at the Blackie in which a single quilt was to be made commemorating Bessie Braddock (1899-1970). Bessie Braddock served on Liverpool’s Council between 1930 and 1961. In 1945 she was elected to Parliament where she represented Liverpool until 1969 as member for the Exchange constituency.

www.bbc.co.uk/legacies/myths_legends/england/liverpool/

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