Object of the week- Cotton Queen’s tiara

Queens of Industry
Elsie Kearsley's tiara. Courtesy of Longridge Heritage Trust

A dazzling reminder of a fascinating chapter in British industrial history, this beautiful tiara is truly fit for a queen.

Although not made of real precious metals and jewels, the tiara is no less prestigious, as it was once worn by the country’s very last reigning Cotton Queen.

Elsie Kearsley, who was crowned in 1939, worked as a weaver at Whittles Stone Bridge Mill in Preston before being awarded the highly-prized title.

Her first official appearance following her coronation was at a John Lewis store in Manchester, but her reign was cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War.

However, she did keep the ceremonial tiara, which she later donated to Longridge Heritage Centre Trust.

Today, it is on loan to Leeds Industrial Museum where it is on display as part of the fascinating Queens of Industry exhibition.

The captivating exhibition features historic photos, films and exhibits, exploring the stories of the handful of young women from across the UK whose lives the prestigious title changed forever.

The concept of industry queens first came to prominence in the 20th Century, inspired by the idea of traditional Rose and May Queens in local villages and towns as well as by real regal coronations.

The first Railway Queens were elected in the mid-1920s and the last Coal Queen was crowned in the early 1980s, with those elected expected to represent their industry internationally, attend high-profile events and even meet heads of state.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “The story of the Queens of Industry is a fascinating chapter in our nation’s industrial heritage and a real landmark in the evolution of the role of women in industry.”

Queens of Industry runs until September 2019. Entrance to the exhibition is free with normal admission to the museum. For more details, please visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/queensofindustry