International Women's Day 2024 - Maxine Peake

Feb 19, 2024
At Cloudwater, we have a diverse team consisting of 50% women who are involved in different areas of the business such as production, packaging, warehouse, retail, hospitality, and management. We value and celebrate the achievements of women as it is an essential part of our identity here at Cloudwater. On February 6th, we hosted an extraordinary brew day in honour of IWD 2024 and invited women from various Manchester organisations who have inspired and impacted us and their communities. Participants in the project include Flawd, Manchester Laces, Odd Arts, Eat Well, Isca, and other notable figures like Maxine Peake and Rivca Burns who attended the brew day..It was amazing to have everyone under one roof, and we cherish the result of the day which you might be holding in your hands right now. Enjoy!



How did the collection and library begin?


The collection began with our founders, Eddie and Ruth Frow, who met at a political education summer school in the mid 1950’s. They were both stalwarts of the left in Manchester, with Eddie being an engineer and staunch trade unionist whilst Ruth was a teacher and a member of the National Union of Teachers. They lived in their semi-detached home in Old Trafford in Manchester for much of their life, which was packed from floor to ceiling with books and attracted visitors from all over the country. Their collection moved to the library’s current home in Jubilee House in Salford in 1987. (Nathan)



What can residents of Salford and Greater Manchester do to support the library, what does it mean to become a radical reader?


We are proud to have built up and taken care of one of the most important collections of working class material in Britain. The library's archive documents over 200 years of organising and campaigning by working class people in Britain, Ireland and all over the world. Becoming a Radical Reader is how our supporters can support us in our aim to preserve our history and help us put class back on the agenda. (Nathan)


Is there a project or exhibition upcoming in the library that you are excited about/something we can look out for?


We have some events lined up to commemorate International Women’s Day. The first is a badge making session on Thursday 7th March, followed by a digitisation event on Saturday 9th March and finally, on Thursday 28th March, we are marking the 40th anniversary of the start of the miner’s strike by hosting a talk on Women in the Miners’ Strike. To find out more about the events we have coming up, then just take a look at the What’s On part of our website. (Nathan)


Are there any notable women mentioned in the library archives that you take inspiration from?


When it comes to preserving and celebrating social history, is there a clear point in which we see the narrative change about women's stories being recorded and told?



Have you seen a change in the way female characters are written from when you first started in the industry, to now?

Maxine Peake: Yes and no. I feel the biggest leap forward is the encouragement of writer/performers we're seeing now. You’ve got amazing people like Michaela Coel and Sophie Willan writing and starring, sharing their authentic voices to tell authentic stories. There's also more female parts now, but I sense there’s still a little bit of improvement to come. Whilst it’s brilliant there are more female protagonists, we need a wider frame of storytelling. Stories told by females aren't all about the 'female' experience, whether it be family or romantic life. Women exist outside of these roles, and there's been plenty of them kicking at the door going ‘we need changes!’

Ultimately, it’s not about the roles for me, it’s about seeing more women of colour and of different backgrounds in positions of power within production companies, within broadcasters, and within theatres, so that they can make sure the stories that need to be told, are told, in a true and authentic way.

What drew you to becoming involved with the Salford WCML, and what aspects of its work resonate with you?

Maxine Peake: First and foremost because I was privileged enough to have met both Ruth and Eddie Frow in my late teens. I was in the Salford Communist Party with Ruth and Eddie, and Ann and Henry Suss, Frank Williamson; all amazing comrades who had lived through the most extraordinary political times as activists. So, when the WCML reached out and asked me to be a trustee... well! That remains to this day one of my biggest highlights and proudest moments.

WCML is home to an incredible collection of working class literature. It's an amazing space that reminds us we cannot move forward if we do not learn from our past. We know the establishment would erase this history if they could, so the fact that Ruth and Eddie had the foresight to begin collecting and preserving this paraphernalia is tremendous. Places like the library are a vital educational resource, for all generations. I am heartened to see just how many young people are getting involved with  WCML and it's vast collections, collections that are only growing!

It's an exciting but complex world out there, and politically, it can be a difficult world to navigate. The library and the wonderful team involved are making sure that we never forget the battles and the struggles, and that we recognise where we have made change. It may not be huge revolutionary change, but it's the constant chipping away at the establishment that is just as important. In the present moment we may often feel like 'what's the point?' but when you look back on history you see the impact small incremental change has in creating momentous movements. Huge changes have been made thanks to everyday working class people putting the necks on the line. The library is proof of this and is a bloody amazing place. If you haven't been, you should!

Proper DIPA

Our 8th DIPA in our  Proper DIPA series is out this week, called Proper DIPA NZ edition, a perfect example of the beautiful things that happen when modern meets tradition.We've infused Southern Cross and NZ Cascade to accentuate the JW Lees yeast strain.This DIPA excels in both body and hop intensity, delivering a hearty hop medley characterised by quintessential NZ hop aromas of white grape, all culminating in an exceptionally dank finish.Enjoyed in the video by JW Lees brewer Matthew and available in our webshop now. 

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