Amazing Women from the city of Hull

The city of Hull has had a wealth of inspirational and brilliant women! Some were born here and others came and made their mark.

Dr Mary Murdoch was Hull’s first female GP, and more recently the new bridge on Castle Street, Murdoch’s Connection, was named after her.

Madam Emily Clapham. When you think of haute couture, Savile Row, Paris or Milan might spring to mind, but for 80 years Hull was home to the salon of Madame Clapham, a redoubtable woman who’s work gained such renown that she was appointed as a royal dressmaker, and her garments became objects of desire among those in high society. Madame Clapham’s reputation soared between 1890 and the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

Ethelk Legiska one of the most talented musicians of the 20th century, was born  ‘Ethel Liggins’ but took the name ‘Leginska’ in an era when the best top-class musicians had Polish- or Russian-sounding names. She became a pianist and became an accomplished conductor and conducted many of the world’s leading orchestras from the mid-1920s. This culminated in the founding of her own women’s orchestras. She also composed three operas and in 1935 was the first woman to conduct her own opera in a major opera house.

Margaret Moxon (nee Kissling) a pioneering teacher from Hull. Margaret travelled as a missionary to Sierra Leone and New Zealand, where she paved the way for girls’ education during the 1800s.

Sister Agnes Walsh A nun and humanitarian who protected Jews during the Holocaust. Born Ada Vallinda Walsh, Sister Agnes joined the Daughters of Charity, serving in Ireland, Jerusalem and then France, where she ended during the war. She hid the family for nearly a year under the noses of the Nazis, risking death on a daily basis.” Sister Agnes was honoured as a Righteous among the Gentiles in 1990. She is one of only 21 Britons to be recognized as such and to have her name inscribed on the memorial at Yad Vashem, and in 2010 she received British “hero of the Holocaust,” an award created by Gordon Brown, the then prime minister.

Eleanor Rollit Born into a wealthy shipbuilding family who later married Albert Kaye Rollit, a successful solicitor who eventually became President of the Law Society, and was later knighted. Eleanor was very involved with local charities, and was a great supporter and benefactor of the Sailor’s Orphanage as well as a patron of the training ship T.S. Southampton, that trained wayward boys and orphans in the basics of seamanship. Eleanor personally opened bank accounts with the Hull Savings Bank for the boys. When Eleanor became Lady Mayoress she extended her support for local charities and good causes. She was also very active in the early women’s suffrage movement.

Lillian Bilocca, Yvonne Blenkinsop, Mary Denness and Christine Jensen MBE. A group of four women dubbed the Headscarf Revolutionaries, who campaigned for trawler safety measures in the 1960s. Their campaign started when 58 fishermen lost their lives in the triple trawler tragedy of 1968, which saw three separate trawler sinking’s in the space of less than a month. The four women collected a 10,000-signature petition calling for reform, led protest meetings and lobbied politicians. Among the measures the campaign won were safety checks before vessels left port, radio operators for all ships, improved safety equipment and a “mother ship” with medical facilities for all fleets.

Amy Johnson Pioneering Aviator born in Hull in 1903. Amy was the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in her Gypsy Moth ‘Jason’. Travelling 11,000 mile in 19 days.

Karen Briggs Four times world Judo Champion and Gold Medal winner in the Olympic Games of 1990.

Patricia Bredin – Actress and singer. Born in Hull in 1934. Best known as the very first United Kingdom representative in the Eurovision Song Contest finishing 7th in 1957. This performance at 1min 52sec is the shortest performance in the contests history.

Maureen Lipman OBE – Hull Born actress and member of the Laurence Oliver’s Royal National Thetare Company. Appearing in many TV shows and films throughout her career including Coronation Street, Dr Who and Skins to name but a few.

Margot Bryant – Born in Hull in 1897. Margot appeared in many films in her early career. Her most notable role came later in her life, playing the timid Minnie Caldwell in Coronation Street a role she occupied for 16 years over the course of 560 episodes.

Valerie Wood – Moved to Hull when she was 13 years Old. As the first winner of the Catherine Cookson prize writes historical romance novels set in Hull and East Yorkshire.

Jean Rook – Dubbed “ The First Lady of Fleet Street” for her regular column in the Daily Express. She became the first woman to edit the Sunday newspaper, “Sennet”. Rook interviewed scores of public figures including Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Elizabeth Taylor, and Barry Humphries.

Jean Bishop universally-loved as Hull’s Bee Lady. She sadly passed away at the age of 91 after raising thousands of pounds for charity over the years.

Winifred Holtby was an accomplished British author, journalist, and activist. Best known for her novel, South Riding (1936), she had published six novels in her lifetime. She also had a successful career in journalism and wrote the first critical study of Virginia Woolf in English. Winifred worked for prominent newspapers and magazines, including the feminist publication Time and Tide. She wrote about democracy and social welfare, feminism and pacifism, education and responsibility, racism and injustice.

Barbara Buttrick known as “The Mighty Atom of the Ring” Only 4′ 11″ tall she became the World’s unbeaten flyweight and bantamweight champion from 1950 to 1960. In the mid-1990s, she founded and became the president of the Women’s International Boxing Federation which is a major sanctioning body of women’s boxing.