A wealth of wonderful women's stories uncovered

June 01, 2021 - 12:00am

A wealth of wonderful women's stories uncovered

March of this year was Women’s History Month and it was suggested by Rachael Bowers of Lancaster City Museum to Lancaster Civic Society that there appeared to be no green heritage plaques in and around the Lancaster and Morecambe district commemorating famous and influential women of the area.

Accordingly, the Civic Society and Museum joined forces to launch a survey to ask the public which women deserved to be honored with green heritage plaques to run through the month of March and Women’s History month.

Neither organization anticipated the flood of suggestions which came gushing through with 438 people took part in our survey and proving the strength of interest in this overlooked topic.

Additionally, more people took the time to email their suggestions, taking our original list of 21 possible candidates up to 40.

Rachael Bowers, Manager of Lancaster City Museum said, ‘Some of the suggestions reflected the high regard which Lancaster and Morecambe’s citizens hold for living women – this was lovely to see but we will be focusing on those who are no longer living!’

As we have so many strong candidates to choose from, we are prioritising the most popular women, some of which are listed below:

• Emily Williamson, an offer to fund the plaque has been received

• Hilda & Lillian Burkitt,

• Thora Hird,

• Mary Wilkinson,

• Beatrice Parkinson & Janet Raby,

• Sister Aine Cox, an offer to fund the plaque has been received

• Noreen Murray,

• Jennie Harris, an offer to part fund the plaque has been received

We also asked if there was anyone we had missed out. One name was suggested by more than 50 respondents: Frances Elizabeth Johnson, the enslaved Black servant who lived at Castle Park, Lancaster in the 1780s. She is therefore our people’s choice, and we are working with Lancaster Black History Group to ensure that she is remembered, and we have an offer to fund this memorial.

Each plaque will contain information about the person commemorated, and plaques will also have a scannable QR code allowing the public to read a fuller history on their mobile phone.

Green heritage plaques typically cost around £400 each, as well as the cost of securely attaching them to the premises, so Lancaster Civic Society are now seeking funds for these women’s plaques and will set up a crowd funding page to enable the people of Lancaster, Morecambe, and district to contribute.

John Regan, Chairman of Lancaster Civic Society, said "The Society welcomed the opportunity of working with the Museum. We were pleasantly surprised by the numbers of local people who took part in the survey and even more surprised by the number of deserving women. There are probably many others who are presently unknown but deserve recognition. Please let us know about them."


Emily WIlliamson

Emily Williamson, founder of the RSPB