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Statue celebrates Carlisle women workers

Hazel Reeves (Stuart Walker Photography)

The countdown has started for the unveiling of a ‘Cracker Packers’ statue in Carlisle, Cumbria on International Women’s Day – Thursday 8 March 2018.

Hazel Reeves, an award-winning artist and an elected member of the Royal Society of Sculptors, has created the statute – depicting two women McVitie’s factory workers. She visited Carlisle earlier this week (Monday 19 February) to see the installation of a granite ‘Cracker Packers’ plinth. This will form the base of the public artwork which will be installed this March in Caldewgate, Carlisle, next to Paddy’s Market car park.

The two Cracker Packers, the name given to workers at the (then-named) Carr’s biscuit factory, will be standing on a bronze Carr’s Table Water biscuit, with the distinctive Carr’s signature logo embossed into it.

The total height of the statue and its base, with granite plinth, is just over one and a half metres (approx. 5ft 4 ½ inches).

Installation of the granite plinth (the base of the Cracker Packers statue). Stuart Walker Photography

Privately funded, the Cracker Packer bronze statue depicts two biscuit factory women workers – one from past times and one from the modern day dressed in their respective factory uniforms. Hazel worked with current and former Cracker Packers to develop the statue, with the support of Carlisle City Council, pladis and Cumbria County Council Archives.

The statue is privately funded, including a contribution from pladis, £65,000 from Sainsbury’s (as part of their development of a Carlisle superstore) and £5,000 from author Hunter Davies, who has a keen interest in the history of the McVitie’s site. He wrote “The Biscuit Girls”; stories of six Cracker Packers working in the Carr’s Biscuit factory.

A ‘Spirit of the Cracker Packers’ exhibition, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been drawn together by current and past Cracker Packers with the support of Tullie House and Carlisle City Council. This will tell the stories of the Cracker Packers and their work at Carr’s/McVities and the development of the statue.

To find out more about Hazel Reeves’ work, visit www.hazelreeves.com

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