NORTH Yorkshire stand-up poet Kate Fox will share forgotten stories of great women of the north in her Where There’s Muck There’s Bras show at Helmsley Arts Centre on February 16.

Commissioned for last year’s Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle and Gateshead, the 7.30pm show draws on Kate’s PhD on class, gender and North English regional identity in stand-up.

Combining poetry and performance, it tells the story of a variety of northern women from the worlds of literature, sport, science, enterprise, protest, politics, music and art. Written and performed by Kate, alongside actress Joanne Holden, the show aims to redress the balance to reflect a more diverse northern identity.

Women in the show include Warrington swimmer Hilda James, who learnt how to swim at Garston Baths and introduced the American Crawl – or front crawl – to Britain and was known as the “English Comet”.

Holding every British and European freestyle record in 1924, Hilda was expected to secure an Olympic title but her mother refused to let her attend the Paris Olympics. When she turned 21, she became a swimming teacher and took a job with Cunard.

Dora Thewlis was 17 when she travelled to London to take part in a political march and was arrested with fellow suffragettes for attempting to rush the House of Commons.

She was known as the “Baby Suffragette” when the picture of her arrest appeared in newspapers. In response to the media nickname, she said: “I am not a baby. In May next year I shall be 18. Surely, for a girl, that is a good age?”

St Helens footballer Lily Parr was almost 6ft tall and reputedly had a harder shot than any male player. She played in the first international women’s football tournament between England and France in 1920, one match being held at Preston North End’s Deepdale Stadium. The Football Association then banned women from playing on their member grounds, a ban that stayed in place for 50 years.

Parr, who worked as a mental health nurse, became an LGBT icon and was the first female player to be included in the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

Kate says: “At a time when the north lags behind the south on all measures, from employment to life expectancy, it’s time for women’s voices to be heard. The people who have written about, sung about and represented the north are mostly men.

“ From your classic Northern curmudgeons like Morrissey, Alex Turner, Richard Ashcroft, to the endless musicians in parkas leaning against walls and northern politicians in identikit grey suits.

“For the region’s full future potential to shine through, we need to look at the people of our past and present with a different lens and write a much broader story for the North. This show is an attempt to put women back in the picture.”

Tickets are on sale at £10 at or on 01439 771700.

Charles Hutchinson