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The Vote Road Trip: Days 8 and 9 Wetheral and Carlisle

8/3 We are close to the Scottish border in Wetheral, a small village near Carlisle.  At dinner tonight in a lovely conservatory dining room, Linda noted that today was the birthday of her mother, a nurse and an artist, who had “lived a life of good works.”

View from dining room

Her mother, Mary Batastini Hickson, was born in 1913, the year of two great suffrage marches. In Washington, D.C., on March 3rd, an estimated 5,000-8,000 women marched in the grand Women Suffrage Procession. Three months later in Great Britain, thousands of women participated in the Great Pilgrimage, a nation-wide, six-week long march of suffragists, attempting to counter the suffragettes’ violent acts. Across class and age and abilities, non-violent suffragists walked along six routes, including the northeast route from Carlisle, to a massive rally in Hyde Park in London on July 26th. The Carlisle suffragists arrived after 37 days and more than 350 miles on July 25th. In writing The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight, I tracked and described the conflicting strategies and tactics. (Click on a picture to enlarge it.)

Cracker Packers

Sight from bridge railing, Carlisle

8/4 Last year, the “Cracker Packer” statue by Hazel Reeves was  dedicated in Carlisle (a six minute train ride from Wetheral). It is an unusual statue in that it represents women workers and was sculpted by a woman. In designing the statue, Reeves interviewed retired and active women workers in the factory in Carlisle that makes Carr’s Table Water Biscuits. We walked quite a way, making several wrong turns, to find the statue of two women workers, one from the past and the other from the present, atop a giant Carr’s Table Water Biscuit. The figures are small, less than 5 feet tall and depicted as if engaged in “story telling and happy chatter,” according to Hazel Reeves.

Old-time worker

Modern worker

I found the scale and the location—by a bus stop on a concrete island between two very busy roads—disconcerting, perhaps diminishing the topic. Nevertheless, I was heartened that there is this statue of women factory workers created by a woman sculptor! The present-day worker is wearing a hairnet.

We also visited the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle. Carlisle was originally a Roman settlement established to service forts along Hadrian’s Wall. The Carlisle Castle built in 1092 and mostly intact is across the road from the Tullie. The Tullie’s collection reflected that history. I was astonished to learn about Border Reivers, English and Scottish people who lived in the Anglo-Scottish Borderlands during the 1500s and who survived by raiding. It truly was—”A tale of revenge, bloodshed, curses, families, & feuds . . .”

Mother Goddess

An exhibit on Celtic Religion had an intriguing carving of Mother Goddesses seated on a throne with curved arms and holding a pile of fruit with both hands and a female pottery head on a jug.

Female Pottery Head

In an exhibition on the Roman Empire there was a wonderful statue of Fortuna who is usually depicted with a curved animal horn, a cornucopia, filled with flowers and fruit, and a rudder. Worshippers were assured prosperity and safe journeys.


We hadn’t had much rain until Carlisle, but in the afternoon the rains came and we got soaked, a state of affairs that would become common.

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