Forthcoming events


We are delighted to announce the launch of the first two parts of the ‘Piston, Pen & Press’ touring exhibition. Part I ‘Literature in the Factories & Mills’, can be seen at the Jute Museum @Verdant Works from 17 August 2019. It will move to Dundee Central Library in November. The exhibition is a collaboration between the library and museum, and features some fantastic archival materials combined with our exhibition banners. In spring 2020 you will also be able to catch this exhibition at New Lanark and then at Stanley Mills. You can pick up a free poetry booklet at the exhibition, or download it from the ‘Poetry Anthologies’ page. 

Part II ‘Literature in the Mines’ opens at North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre in Motherwell from 30 August 2019. It is combined with a great exhibition on local Lanarkshire writers, ‘Rhyme and Reason’. This exhibition will move to the Scottish National Mining Museum in spring 2020. You can pick up a free poetry booklet at the exhibition, or download it from the ‘Poetry Anthologies’ page. 


These exhibitions will be accompanied by talks and musical performances by our partners. At North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre and the Scottish National Mining Museum, you will also be able to attend a reading from the play written for ‘Piston, Pen & Press’, about Lanarkshire miners, by playwright and project partner Martin Travers, ‘A Daurk Maiter.’ Please follow us on Twitter for up-to-date announcements about these events, and we will also post updates here.  

MOOCS: Massive Open Online courses

In spring-summer 2019 we have worked on creating three free online courses, led by the University of Strathclyde and hosted on FutureLearn. These ‘Working Lives’ MOOCs explore the history of railway workers, coal miners, and textile factory workers in the long nineteenth century. We filmed at the National Railway Museum, the Scottish National Mining Museum, the National Coal-Mining Museum for England, the Big Pit National Mining Museum in South Wales, Quarry Bank Mill, New Lanark, Stanley Mills and Verdant Works, including in sections of these museums not open to the public. 

The MOOCs will run in 4 week blocks, starting with ‘Working Lives on the Railway’, from the end of September 2019. Follow us here or on Twitter for updates. Participation is free. 


Members of the project team will be presenting our findings as a panel at BAVS 2019 at the University of Dundee, and NAVSA 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Some of us will also be performing at the salon hosted by the Victorian Poetry Caucus….

Previous events


Organised by the Piston, Pen & Press research project and the Finnish Labour Museum Werstas, Tampere.

Date: Friday June 7th, 2019

Venue: Finnish Labour Museum Werstas, Tampere.

This one-day workshop featured speakers from across Europe, the UK, and the US, and featured lively discussion and comparison of workers’ cultures across different nations. We also heard a performance from project partner Jennifer Reid, and enjoyed the hospitality of the Labour Museum and the Lenin Museum and the sunny weather in Tampere. A PDF of the programme is below. 

Tampere programme


On 4-5 October, we co-hosted an international symposium with the Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University, Texas, celebrating 175 years since ‘The Cry of the Children’ appeared in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. At our end, the Strathclyde Humanities and Social Sciences IT team helped to record Mike Sanders and Jennifer Reid’s ‘100 in 100’ performance, to be shown as part of the opening event at the ABL – a 15 minute extract is available on the conference website. We also held a lively workshop on ‘Recovering Working-Class Writing for the Digital Age’, featuring Francesca Benatti from the Reading Experience Database, Helen Rogers from the Archive of Working-Class Writing, and Simon Rennie discussing the Poetry of the Cotton Famine project. Short videos of Francesca, Helen and Simon discussing their projects are available here. This was followed by a digital annotation workshop on ‘The Cry of the Children’ using COVE. Our Strathclyde group proved to have so much to say about EBB’s poem that after the first 30 minutes of our workshop, we hadn’t finished with the first stanza. We’ll be working with an international team of scholars to reduce our many annotations and comments to a more manageable format and finalize a digital edition of the poem. We closed the day by participating remotely in an ABL session, and were able to listen and respond to Marjorie Stone and Florence Boos.

As part of our contribution to ‘Rhyme and Reform’, Mike and I supplied some early project findings, including poems by millworkers and miners, to a digital exhibition. We’re delighted to have worked with the ABL on this and with their production of a great resource for students and scholars of EBB, and those with broader interests in working-class Victorian literature. As we continue our archival research, we’re looking out for more working-class writers referencing EBB’s poem or discussing women and child labourers from their own perspectives.