It’s International Women’s Day and 100 years since the 1918 suffrage act, giving some women the right to vote. On this momentous day we wanted to share the news with you that five amazing Hull women have been honoured with plaques, celebrating their tenacity and achievements.
The plaque scheme, set up in 2014-2015, aims to recognise 100 local pioneers, ground breakers and campaigners who have made an impact locally, nationally and internationally and the chosen women have certainly done this.
One of our current councillors, Mary Glew, who set up the centenary plaque scheme, couldn’t have put it better when she said, “Women have come a long way over the last 100 years, since gaining the right to vote; and it is important that we continue to celebrate the many and varied achievements of women.”
The five truly inspirational women are Eva Crackles, Elsa Gidlow, Flo Bilton, Pat Albeck and Mary Hatfield – and each woman is radical in their own way. This is how they’ve blazed a trail for us to follow…
That’s Dr. Florence Eva Crackles, MBE to some. Ahead of her time, Eva was an active champion of flora, campaigning for the protection of land and wildlife in East Yorkshire for over 40 years. Her work in plant conservation won her the title of MBE in 1992. She was a passionate botanist and teacher too.
Hull-born Elsa Gidlow was truly inspirational as a poet, journalist and pioneer. Moving to Canada as a young child, at 19 she started out in a career in writing and journalism. She co-published the first magazine in North America where gay and lesbian issues were discussed and is best known for writing On A Grey Thread, possibly the first volume of openly lesbian love poetry.
Hull’s favourite footballing daughter Flo was a goalkeeper and a founding member of the Women’s Football Association, established in 1969. Accompanying the Women’s England side on international trips, and an advocate for rising stars, she was a persistent fighter for the recognition of women’s football as more than just an amateur sport.
Hailed ‘Queen of the Tea Towel’, Pat was a prolific and gifted designer. Her printed textiles, ceramics and wallpapers were produced and used, most notably, by the National Trust and John Lewis, so her work may well look familiar. A student of Hull College of Arts and later, the Royal College of Art, her brilliant designs received high acclaim. Read more on Pat, one of Hull’s important creatives, here.
Mary Hatfield was Hull’s first female city councillor. Elected in 1919, just a year after the women’s suffrage act, Mary was a true trailblazer. She championed a whole host of welfare issues within Hull’s most vulnerable communities. Mary’s demand for high-quality care for women was often at odds with other councillors, and she routinely faced resistance. Her commitment to these causes makes her more than worthy of commemoration.
Although the locations of the plaques haven’t yet been decided, they will be out on the streets of Hull soon, so keep your eyes peeled.