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IN 1930 Frances Lock­ett, a 19 year old mill worker from Hyde, was voted Bri­tain’s first Cot­ton Queen. The com­pe­ti­tion was open to any woman who worked in the cot­ton in­dus­try aged be­tween 16 and 26. It was es­tab­lished to re­vive the de­clin­ing in­dus­try and all the cot­ton towns in the North West put for­ward girls they thought had a chance of win­ning.

Af­ter lo­cal heats, the fi­nal­ists at­tended a cer­e­mony at the Tower Ball­room in Black­pool where Frances was de­clared Bri­tain’s first Cot­ton Queen.

It was a huge hon­our for Frances and for Hyde. Af­ter be­ing crowned, the town gave her a civic re­cep­tion, with more than 20,000 peo­ple turn­ing out to con­grat­u­late her.

Frances spent her year as Cot­ton Queen trav­el­ling the coun­try, pro­mot­ing cot­ton at ex­hi­bi­tions, pa­rades and pub­lic events. She was treated to cham­pagne re­cep­tions and given gifts such as this beau­ti­ful beaded dress. It was a very pres­ti­gious and glam­orous role for a cot­ton mill worker from Hyde who had been used to work­ing on the ma­chines ev­ery day.

Af­ter her year of fame, Frances re­turned to work at J&J Ash­ton’s Mill in Hyde where she worked as a weaver un­til her mar­riage to lo­cal po­lice­man James Burgess in 1937.

Frances’ story fea­tures in the new Un­rav­elled ex­hi­bi­tion at Port­land Basin Mu­seum which ex­plores Tame­side’s cot­ton her­itage. The ex­hi­bi­tion also in­cludes tex­tile art pro­duced by lo­cal school­child­ren as part of the Tame­side to the Taj project in partnership with Z-arts Manch­ester.

Frances’ fam­ily do­nated her dress to the peo­ple of Tame­side and it is on per­ma­nent dis­play in the mu­seum.

Port­land Basin Mu­seum is open 10am-4pm Tues­day to Sun­day, en­try is free.

Fol­low us on Twit­ter @ tm­bc_­cul­ture to find out about ex­hi­bi­tions and events across Tame­side’s mu­se­ums and gal­leries.

Cot­ton Queen Frances Lock­ett

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