Patience Round

Aged 79 at the time of the strike, Patience Round celebrated her 100th birthday in 1931.

Patience Round is the only rank-and-file chainmaker we know anything about because Mary Macarthur secured newspaper interviews with her as the oldest chainmaker to take part in the 1910 strike. She was 79 at the time, which would place her birth year as 1831. A photograph shows Patience seated, holding a placard, ‘England’s Disgrace! Locked out after 67 years chainmaking’.

Her father was a chainmaker. Her second husband was Thomas Round, born in Mushroom Green, a miner who later became a block chainmaker. Thomas was stepfather to Patience’s four children, Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Darins, and Alice. Elizabeth and Mary both became chainmakers, and Alice married a well-known local chainmaker, James Joseph Tibbitts.

Patience made chain as an outworker for both Woodhouse’s and Hingley’s. A newspaper cutting at the time reported: ‘Her life is wrapped up in the making of chains, and she will talk for hours of the sparks and the wonderful chains she has made during her career.’

The strike was perhaps the most exciting thing that happened to her. On 1 September 1910 her story appeared in the newspapers. Patience had attended a strike meeting just a mile away from Cradley Heath to hear Mary Macarthur speak. When interviewed, she was full of excitement that she had ventured beyond Cradley Heath for the first time in her life:

‘ These are wonderful times. I never thought that I should live to assert the rights of women. It has been the week of my life – three meetings and such beautiful talking.’

Patience was a woman of great stamina. As a one hundredth birthday treat in 1931, she was driven around Cradley Heath in an open landau (a four-wheeled carriage). Most people in the district knew her, and she was cheered as she passed by. She died at the age of 103. Mr. Hickton, a local funeral director, recently told her family that when she died, his grandfather performed the funeral at no cost. He said: ‘She was small in stature, but had the heart of a lion.’