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Matchwomen's Festival 2020

Saturday, June 27, 2020
Opening Hours: 
Bow Arts Trust, 183 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ

Regroup, resist! History, politics, books, music, gin and laughs at London’s most unique independent feminist festival.

It's 132 years since the Bow Matchwomen's groundbreaking strike of 1888. The women had no union, but they DID have incredible friendships and solidarity, sharing everything from hats to 'their last crust' with each other. Together they faced down one of the country's most powerful employers. Their unexpected victory began a social movement from which the new union movement sprang, eventually leading to the founding of the Labour Party. Every year since 2013, we've thrown a party in their honour!

A stone's throw from the match factory where it all began, join us for witty, inspiring women speakers by day, and music by night, plus a warm welcome for children, food and a bar (featuring our popular matchwomen's cocktails), in a friendly, light-hearted atmosphere.

MatchFest returns to Bow Arts, taking place on the same Bow Road that the matchwomen knew, where they promenaded dressed to kill and arm in arm on their days off. Here, they began the strike which led to an unprecedented, supposedly impossible victory for poor, working class, largely migrant women. The festival takes place outside in the courtyard of Bow Arts, an organisation that supports art at the heart of the local community, and celebrates its history.


The brilliant, engaging author of Black Life in London and Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste on the extraordinary Catherine Impey and Britain's history of resistance to racism- which goes back farther than you think!

Lyn is a passionate advocate for working class women's history and is helping fight for a blue plaque for the Matchwomen. She has represented for West Ham since 2005, served as Shadow Home Seretary, and is currently Shadow Exchequer Secretary.

Award- winning writer and funny woman! Multi-award-winning broadcaster, poet and author Alison Kennedy has written 9 novels, 6 short story collections, 3 books of non-fiction and 3 books for children; she also performs stand up comedy. She is a staunch opponent of racism and fascism. Her Wikipedia entry is, she says, increasingly unreliable: she denies owning either a parrot or a Luwak.
Twitter: @Writerer

Pragna is Founder and Director of Southall Black Sisters, multi-award-winning women’s organisation founded in 1979 to address the needs of black and minority women experiencing gender violence. It successfully campaigned for the release of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a landmark case which reformed homicide law. Pragna is also a co-founder of Women Against Fundamentalism. She was listed in The Guardian’s Top 100 women for her activism and campaigning.
Twitter: @SBSisters

A passionate advocate for women, Clare works as a UK-wide Domestic Abuse Consultant, and is a long standing fan of the Freedom Programme. Clare will tell us about the Family Courts,and her work as a Domestic Abuse Expert Witness.
Twitter: @ClareWalker3

Hibo is a Somali-born campaigner against female genital mutilation, author, and public speaker. Born in Somalia, she moved to London, England when just a teenager in 1989, as a refugee fleeing the Somali Civil War. Her book 'Cut: One Woman's Fight against FGM in Britain Today' is published by 
Twitter: @HiboWardere

The Women of Orgreave will be updating us on their fight for justice.


We're delighted to be joined by STEVE WHITE AND THE PROTEST FAMILY, back for their 8th triumphant year at MatchFest; uber-talented singer songwriter MADDY CARTY; playing publicly for the first time, up and coming young singer EVIE PRESS; and the joyful beats of the incredible SAMBA SISTERS' COLLECTIVE!



Men, women and children welcome. Children FREE


'A history lesson that should be taught in our schools' - Jeremy Corbyn

'My favourite day out of the year'- Matchfest Guest

'I can't usually go to event like this because of social anxiety. But here I can relax and know I'm welcome and not judged' - Matchfest Guest

'A grown-up day I can bring my kids to!' - Matchfest Guest


Access Information

Nunnery Bow Arts Courtyard has step-free access throughout from street level, including to the accessible toilet, and is service animal friendly. This venue does not have a hearing loop system.

Accessible parking is not available on-site but blue badge parking can be found 500m away on Fairfield Road.

If you have any questions regarding accessibility at this venue or event, would like to make us aware of any access requirements that you have in advance of visiting, or would like this information in an alternate format including Easy Read, please email or call 020 8980 7774 (Ext. 3)

Travel Information

Address:Bow Arts Trust, 183 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ
Nearest station(s): Bow Road (District and Hammersmith and City lines) is a 6-minute walk away, and Bow Church (DLR) is a 3-minute walk away.
Bus:205, 25, 425, A8, D8, 108, 276, 488 and 8 all service the surrounding area.
Bike: Bicycle parking is located at Bow Church Station. The NEAREST Santander Cycles docking station is at Bow Church Station.

 Get directions with Citymapper