A History of Women’s Lives in Scunthorpe

Stalkers, bigamy, murders, domestic violence, hard work, continuous childbearing, starvation, illegal abortions, suicides. What was the reality of life for women in the masculine environment of an merging steel town? Steel manufacturing began in Frodingham in 1890 and as agricultural workers came in from the surrounding villages and skilled workers came from other areas in the country the population in the villages grew rapidly. The fastest growth was in Scunthorpe which had reached urban district status in 1883 and by 1891 the population had risen to 3,417. The first council elections took place on 17th December 1894. There were 45 candidates chasing 15 places, but Scunthorpe only had one seat on Lindsey County Council– Councillor J Foster. Most women did not have a vote.
There was little or no Suffragette activity in Scunthorpe, the women were too busy surviving. But these ordinary women had a hidden strength that only really came to the fore in both the First and Second World Wars after which they faded back into obscurity.
Using previously unpublished school diaries, original Co-operative Society documents and newspaper accounts from the time, A History of Women’s Lives in Scunthorpe shines a brief spotlight on the unsung heroes without whom the town would never have thrived, the women from the 1840s to the 1950s whose story has never been told.