New women’s museum finds home in Barking and Dagenham

East End Women's Museum

A new museum of women’s history is set to open in a permanent home as part of the new Barking Wharf development at the end of 2019 or early 2020.

The East End Women’s Museum was established in 2015 in response to the Ripper Museum which opened on Cable Street, but has since operated without a building, organising events, workshops, and pop up exhibitions with local partners.

As well as highlighting pioneering women with links to east London such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Sylvia Pankhurst, Mala Sen, Annie Brewster, Mary Driscoll, and Hannah Billig, the new museum will explore everyday local history from women’s perspectives. The museum aims to challenge gender stereotypes and offer new local role models for girls and young women, creating a resource for schools, community groups, and historians.

The venue for the museum has been made available through the support of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and housing developer Be Living. The East End Women’s Museum will work with experienced local partner Eastside Community Heritage to open the museum in the new space and local women and girls will be invited to help shape the museum’s collection.

Sara Huws, co-founder of the East End Women’s Museum said:

“Women make history too. But without their voices and experiences the history books are only telling half the story. We want to put women back in the picture, and share new perspectives on east London’s rich history.

“We believe Barking and Dagenham is the right base for the museum and we’re excited to start working in the borough this year. Everyone we’ve spoken to has had a story to share: about a woman from their family, their street, or their community, and we know there are many more still to be told.”

Judith Garfield, Executive Director of Eastside Community Heritage said:

“For far too long female voices have been overlooked. Women’s stories may be very different to men’s, and it’s not just about what is told but how. A history of local women, their struggles, their rights and their victories is a history of Barking and Dagenham.

“At Eastside Community Heritage the social and cultural ties between the past and the present are at the heart of our work and we’re delighted to be a part of the East End Women’s Museum development.”


‘Here in Barking and Dagenham we are proud of our history while celebrating our present and future aspirations’


Councillor Sade Bright, Barking and Dagenham Council’s Cabinet Member for Equalities and Cohesion said:

“Here in Barking and Dagenham we are proud of our history while celebrating our present and future aspirations.

“From Mary Wollstonecraft to the women of the suffragette movement who used to meet at the Three Lamps to the Ford machinists in “Made in Dagenham” who fought for equal pay, our borough has always been at the forefront in the struggle for equal rights. Today is another landmark for our borough.”

Vinny Bhanderi, managing director at Be Living, said:

“We are delighted to support the creation of the East End Women’s Museum at our development. It’s a brilliant idea and will become another landmark at Barking and Dagenham that recognises its role in making our society a better place.

“We’re also looking forward to our part in marking the borough a better place through the homes we’ll be creating that attract a new generation to live in Barking and Dagenham.”

Throughout 2018 the East End Women’s Museum will be in residence in Barking and Dagenham, delivering a Heritage Lottery-funded project, ‘Working for Equality’, in partnership with Eastside Community Heritage. A mobile exhibition, series of events, and volunteering programme will explore women’s fight for equal rights in the workplace, from suffragette equal pay campaigns to the strike at Ford Dagenham which took place 50 years ago this year and inspired the Equal Pay Act.

The East End Women’s Museum’s 2018 programme will also include an exhibition at Hackney Museum celebrating 100 years of women’s activism in the borough, and a programme of exhibitions and events exploring the women’s suffrage movement and the First World War in Tower Hamlets.