Matchgirls hits pioneer Sarah Dearman’s grave “under threat”


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Sarah Dearman helped organize famous 1888 Bowler Matchgirls strike

The family of a women’s rights pioneer is fighting to prevent a cemetery from building additional plots on her grave.

Sarah Dearman helped organize the 1888 Matchgirls Strike over conditions at the Bryant and May factory in Bow.

Mrs. Dearman’s recently discovered grave in Manor Park should be leveled to make room for other plots.

“If we lose the grave, we lose part of our history and our legacy,” said Mrs. Dearman’s great-granddaughter, Sam Johnson.

Anita Dobson, actress and patron of the Matchgirls Memorial charity, said: “Sarah and these women fought for our rights at work and to destroy her resting place is heinous.

“People want to come here to honor them and to remember what she and the matchgirls have achieved for all of us. “

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Mrs. Dearman’s family plan to create an appropriate headstone for the grave, which is currently marked with a wooden cross

Dearman, then known as Sarah Chapman, was one of the main organizers when 1,400 workers put down tools and left on July 2, 1888.

The strike drew public attention to the plight of vulnerable unskilled workers.

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Matchgirls would work long hours in unsafe conditions for limited wages at Bryant and May plant

Ms. Dearman became a key member of the Matchmakers Union, formed after the strike.

She died in 1945, aged 83, and was buried in an unmarked public grave.

His family only discovered the grave in 2017 after discovering their role in the strike “by accident”.

Ms. Johnson said, “We just found her, we don’t want to lose her.

“I am extremely proud of my great grandmother and her role in the history of the labor movement.

“But socially, it’s important to remember what the matchgirls have accomplished, their bravery and courage, things that resonate today. ”

A spokesperson for Manor Park Cemetery said, “Sarah’s grave will not go away.

“The company has already offered Mrs. Johnson assurances that upon reclamation she would be offered a first refusal to purchase a lease for the new grave space above Sarah Dearman’s existing grave . ”

“We believe that Manor Park Cemetery, its directors and management acted in a manner that was completely reasonable and sensitive to Ms. Johnson’s situation. “


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