I’ve raided the Tameside Image Archive for ABC Wednesday to find these photos of Frances Lockett who was voted Hyde’s first Cotton Queen in 1930 and went on to become the first Cotton Queen of Britain.
The contest was a major event held annually between 1930 and 1939 to promote the cotton industry. It was organised by the Daily Dispatch and held in Blackpool over a three week period. To be eligible, the contestants had to work in the cotton industry and be aged between 16 and 26.
The aspiring Queens entered by sending their photos to their local newspaper and as many as twenty towns then elected their local queen. They went to Blackpool for a few days and the national queen was chosen in a ceremony at the Tower Ballroom.
She was welcomed home with a procession through the streets in an open landau carriage drawn by four bay horses. Mounted police led the procession and she was followed by the Kingston Mill Band, a troupe of Morris dancers, more than 300 workers from Newton Mill, members of the Hyde Lads Club, 40 cars and the Hyde Borough Brass Band.
Being the national cotton queen was a prestigious, exciting and glamorous role and for one year the chosen girl did not have to work in a mill, instead travelling the country, with a chauffeur and chaperone, promoting cotton goods.
Frances died in 1993 having returned to work in J & J Ashton’s Mill, although she remained in demand for charity events.
The Waltz of the Cotton Queen, commemorated Frances’ success and the sheet music sold well. It expressed both the pride in her achievement and the uncertainty of the cotton industry:
She walked the pace in stately form
So graceful and serene
And Hyde is proud of such a lass
Britain’s first cotton queen
All England hopes our Cotton Mills
Again will run full-time
And we shall see a smile again
Upon all faces shine
Queens by Ramblin’ Roger
Queen Gertrude by Berowne
Question Mark at Pixel Minded
Queues at Books Please
Quizzical by a Yankee in Belgrade
Quotes at Postmark California