Warrington’s Working Women in WW1

Today we have another blog entry from our volunteer Carol Mayo looking at the history of women in Warrington:


Women Workers at British Aluminium dig foundations: WWI


The August blog is different from the previous format as I usually discuss a particular woman in Warrington’s history. This month I will look at women’s occupations during the war era. I am unable to cover every aspect as the subject is so large but I intend to give an overview of their pre –war circumstances, opportunities during WW1 and the post war response to working women.

Prior to WW1 women were active in the local economy but as in the national economy their role was largely dependent upon their class. The first occupation that springs to mind is the domestic servant. If we cast an eye over the local advertisements for domestic servants it becomes clear that this formed a largest part of employment market which was typified by poor pay.

In Warrington the 19th century industrial development resulted in the presence of ironworks, aluminium production, file industry, wire production, tanneries, pin factories, textiles and the chemical industry at Bank Quay. In contrast to men’s employment women were employed in lower numbers, paid less and in lower status jobs. From necessity women from working class backgrounds did work but their wages and employment opportunities continued to be restricted.

Outside of industrial production women worked as teachers, governesses and nurses. These professions were considered to be “women’s work” as they were fulfilling their nurturing role. If they were to marry then they left the profession as there was a clash of interests. How could they work as they were now a wife and a future mother? Change was happening in the national economy, for example there were a small number of women doctors prior to WW1 and the number of female office workers did increase but the duties were limited to minor office duties. With the advent of WW1 changes inevitably followed.

From previous blogs we have seen how the outbreak of war impacted upon Warrington – Dr Mary Anderson Noble was appointed Warrington’s first woman doctor in January 1917. Indeed the Guardian reports of “a dearth of doctors” in April 1918 and discusses the possibility of recruiting female doctors.  In January 1917 Mabel Capper a notable Suffragette is “given the chance” as Warrington’s first woman journalist on the Examiner.

With so many men in the armed forces the gaps in the economy needed to be filled. Single and married women had the opportunity to do “men’s work” as circumstances demanded it. These changes are reflected in the news articles and letters which are scattered throughout the local newspapers the Guardian and the Examiner. There are reports of the Citizen’s Guild of Help and Mothers and Babies requesting the need for day nurseries and the churches discussed “the glory of motherhood and the sanctity of family life”. Clearly with such large numbers of women working in the munition factories, aircraft workers, Land Army, window cleaners, road sweepers, bus drivers, conductors and the nursing duties of V.A.D. (Volunteer Aid Detachment) and Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Corps they were seen to be active in so many roles.

There are letters and reports of concerned Warringtonians. One reader suggests that women window cleaners should be treated with respect rather than as a laughing stock with insulting remarks. (Examiner 24/02/1917) In another article “Not Work For Lady – Tribunal Problems” (Examiner 24/02/1917) the Collins Green Colliery judged a wages clerk post was not the class of work for women. Whilst in Bewsey it was reported they were devoid of hairdressers so a solution to this “plight” was a lady barber. From these three instances it can be seen that women worked in many sectors and opinions were split on this matter.

With the end of the war in 1918 women’s employment was discussed in terms of them making room for the returning men. A major concern was the decline in the number of domestic servants. With better paid employment opportunities available domestic service was not an attractive option and so there was a post war reluctance to take up a domestic service role.

After the war the struggle for equality went on. The passage of the Representation of the People’s Act 1918 resulted in propertied women over 30 attaining the vote. For the majority of women who worked towards the war effort they could not vote until the passage of the Representation of the Peoples Act in 1928. It was only then that women were able to vote on the same terms as men at the age of 21. Women continued to fight for their rights throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century.



Meet Warrington’s Oldest New Voter in 1918 – Nonagenarian Mrs Hannah Eyres

Today we have another blog entry by Carol, describing somebody related to Women’s Suffrage in Warrington. This time Carol tells us about Hannah Eyres, the oldest woman to vote in the 1918 election, the first in which she had been allowed to vote:



The Warrington Guardian’s report dated 27th April 1918 introduces Mrs Eyres. She is in her early 90s, a native of Runcorn, a Widow who was married to Thomas Eyres and she lives at 91 Orford Lane with her son George Ayres. We are also told she has a lively interest in current affairs and she is “staunchly Conservative”. Hannah moved to Warrington some thirty five years ago so we can estimate that she relocated to Warrington around 1883.

Hannah was born in 1828 and died in 1922. During Hannah’s lifetime there were five monarchs – George IV 1820 – 1830, William IV 1830 – 1837, Queen Victoria 1837 – 1901, Edward VII 1901 – 1910 and part of George V reign as he ascended the throne in 1910. Consequently Hannah lived through the latter part of the House of Hanover, Saxe – Coburg – Gotha and into the House of Windsor. Through the eras there were great social, economic and political changes. Just a few – The Industrial Revolution and population expansion, 1832 Great Reform Act, 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act and the growth of the workhouse system, railway development 1830’s to 1840’s and Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species published in 1859. The list could go on! We can’t forget periods of world conflict. This included 1848 Revolutions in Europe, Crimean War 1853 – 1856, American Civil War 1861 – 1865, Franco-Prussian War 1870 -1871, First Boer War 1880 – 81, Second Boer War 1899 -1902, WW1 1914 – 1918, Russian Revolution 1917 and Russian Civil War 1918 – 1920.

During Hannah’s lifetime there were protests for Electoral Representation for both men and women. The 1867 Reform Act recognised skilled urban working men and men who rented properties in the boroughs. Then the 1884 Reform Act also benefitted men as it gave parity to the number of male voters in the counties and boroughs. The number of male voters did increase but not greatly. From the middle of the 19th century the Women’s Suffrage Movement demands for representation continued and were rejected by Parliament. Petitions were ignored and bills were blocked. It was not until the end of WW1 the 1918 Representation of the People’s Act was passed. Women over 30 years of age who met a property qualification were given the vote but the disparities continued as all men over 21 were enfranchised. Hannah was lucky enough to qualify for the vote. For Hannah it was extra special as she was driven to the polling station in a motor car. Her response was excitement and she declared that “she had enjoyed it”. Hannah voted at Hamilton Street School polling station for the winning candidate, Conservative Harold Smith.

Hannah’s everyday life was influenced by technological, social and political changes. She experienced the realities of WW1, the growth of street lighting, the dominance of horse drawn vehicles, roads without cars, the birth of the motor car, trams and buses, photographs in the newspapers and photographic studios in Warrington for family portraits. There were developments in communications – telephones, phonograph, moving pictures, picture houses and theatre entertainment throughout Warrington. Empire Day was a regular part of school life and there were new ladies fashions and hairstyles. In WW1 she lived through women’s employment in men’s jobs. I wonder what she thought of them and how did WW1 affect Hannah and her family? Hannah would have heard about the local reports and plans in 1919 for the erection of the village war memorials and peace celebrations. There are so many questions we could ask Hannah.

Almost four years later in April 1922 the Warrington Guardian reports that Hannah passed away at her home in Orford Lane. The headline “Death of Nonagenarian” not only highlighted her great age, 94 years but because of this alone Hannah was considered news worthy.  We can see why when we look at the 2018 figures produced by the Office for National Statistics. Life expectancy for a woman in 1921 was 59.6. Hannah was an exceptional woman who lived through exceptional times.

Frances Grace Timewell 1862 – 1932: Dedicated To Warrington


Today we have another post by Carol, our volunteer looking into women’s suffrage in Warrington. I will pass you over to Carol to tell you all about another great Warrington Suffrage pioneer:


Frances Timewell’s story is one of dedication to the town of Warrington. Born 1862 in the Southport area she later moved to Warrington and stayed here for the rest of her life.

In 1882 Frances entered the Warrington Training College located in the St Elphin’s area. Admission to the College was via the Queen’s Scholarship Examination held in England and Wales. Frances passed with flying colours. In January 1884 the Principal, Rev. Morley Stevenson, was so impressed that he invited Frances to join the Staff.  From that point onwards Frances was committed to the Training College. For the period 1882 -1883 she was Secretary for the Guild of Past Students   and Governess by the 1900s. From1916 until her retirement in August 1919 Frances was Vice Principal, and integral to the production of the Warrington Training College Magazine. After her retirement in 1919 she went to live with her sister Mary Margaretta Timewell in Manchester Road. She remained devoted to the College and to Warrington.

Miss Timewell first appears in a Warrington Guardian article dated 15/06/1918. This was a brief report on the first meeting of the Warrington Women’s Citizen Association (W.W.C.A.) held at the Wycliffe Memorial Hall in Bewsey Street where Eleanor Rathbone was the main speaker. Frances took the Chair and “humourously alluded” to women’s progress since her youth. It is important to note that the Women’s Citizen Association was a national movement founded in 1917 and played a major role in the Suffrage debate. Not only was it influential in  the passage of the 1918 People’s Representation Act  but Eleanor Rathbone was also a key figure in setting up the national organisation. Warrington was at the centre of the political debate.

From Miss Timewell’s involvement in the movement it is clear that as an educated and eloquent woman she was concerned with Women’s Rights. The article lists their concerns – to foster citizenship, self-education in social, economic, and political rights, and to secure representation of women. There are several other W.W.C.A. news stories and Frances presided over another meeting held at The Wycliffe Memorial Hall on 13/07/1918. The topics covered ranged from representation on public bodies, war widow’s pension rights, equality of opportunity in the work place, the economic value of married women with children, action against the evil of drinking amongst women and the need to work amongst poorer women. Later meetings focused upon the upcoming 1918 General Election, child welfare, the child offender, education and public health. Rather interestingly there is a small report on the W.W.C.A. sending a deputation to the Watch Committee urging the need for Women’s Patrols in the streets. It would be interesting to follow up the Watch Committee’s response.

The article dated 15/06/1918 gives details of the Warrington office address which was 7 Palmyra Square. This is interesting as it brings Frances and the W.W.C.A. to life. Now we have photographs of Frances which were taken by The Birtles Studio, we can imagine her visiting the building in Palmyra Square, walking into the Wycliffe Memorial Hall and presiding over the meetings.

I found no other reference to Frances’s work until the reports of her death and funeral which outlined her interests and concerns. Sadly after a long illness Frances died at home on 29th June 1932 which she shared with her sister Mary Margaretta at “Pentillie” in Latchford. Her death was reported by the Warrington Guardian on 2/07/1932 and it lists her philanthropic concerns. These included the Nursing Associations of Warrington and Grappenhall, and the Infirmary Ladies Linen Guild which provided for mothers and babies in extreme poverty, the national lifeboat charity the R.N.L.I., and The Waifs and Strays’ Society which provided shelter, education and discipline within St George’s Home for Boys. Her organisational skills were also evident as she was one of the managers of the Ladies’ School of Industry in Smith Street. We also discover that Frances’ main hobby was painting and she was also “an organist of some attainment”. (Warrington Guardian 2/07/1932).  From the 1933 College Year Book there is a detailed account of Miss Timewell’s funeral, the attendees, church service and burial at Hill Cliffe Cemetery.

I must mention that I was lucky enough to contact Karen Backhouse, the Special Collections Librarian at Liverpool Hope University where the records for W.T.C. are located.  Through Karen I was able to access the College year books where I found pictures of Frances and some of her fellow staff.  Karen has also been kind enough to send further photographs and information. There is a report and a group photograph of the March 1931 Widnes, Runcorn and District Branch Meeting of W.T.C. Sitting in the centre front row is Frances and her sister Mary Margaretta is sitting on the far left front row. The two sisters seemed to be inseparable. It seems only right that we can see them together.

Mary was also a student at the College and a teacher at Hamilton Street School where she was the Girls Head Teacher from 1895 to 1925. On Frances’ death Mary or Etta as she is sometimes called composed a letter to students past and present thanking everyone for their sympathy and condolences.

I hope the blog has been interesting. I can say that Frances Grace Timewell, is an important part of Warrington’s history as her educational work, philanthropy and link to the W.W.C.A. are an expression of her commitment to Warrington.


Miss Mary Margaretta Timewell

The Royal Wedding 1863

Royal Wedding 1863


In 1863 King Edward VII, at that time still Prince of Wales, was married to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Celebrations took place across the country, including here in Warrington.

I have two items recording to the town’s celebrations to share with you today. Because I like to represent all views if I can, and because no two of us Warringtonians are likely to have the same opinion, I have included one which lauds the festivities and one which pokes fun at them.

We will start with the item in support:




Here we have a commemorative programme listing all of the dignitaries and organisations taking part in a celebratory procession through the town, along with where they join the procession.

Leading the procession is the Chief Constable on horseback followed by three trumpeters. After him come the various schools in the town, each school led by a local dignitary also on horseback. After the various schools come the cadet corps, the volunteer regiment and the local militia. Following them is the Mayor and councillors, including the police, fire brigade and other council officials. Next we have the magistrates and the Overseers of the Poor, followed by members of the local gentry. After the gentry come the tradesmen, including the town’s printers who bring a printing press drawn on a lorry by four horses. Finally we have representatives of the various Friendly Societies (friendly societies were groups who joined together to provide health care, burial costs, etc to members in times of need in return for a weekly membership fee).

The event was obviously a major affair and would have been quite a spectacle. It seems fair to say that the town would have been brought to a standstill.

The second item I want to share with you is a mock version of the same programme drawn up by some unidentified local wag.



There are various little quips about the how much the council has spent and how self-aggrandising various members of the procession are, not to mention a fair old smattering of references to drunken officials.

I have copied the document for you here, but will run through some of the comical re-interpretations of the original for you as the print is very small.

The Chief Constable is again listed as heading the parade, but this time we are told that he is in full armour and riding a “camel leopard” (an old term for a giraffe).  The fire brigade will draw a councillor on the top of a ladder who will lecture the public on how the council has no money to spare on residents, but the £5000 spent on this procession doesn’t count.

The town’s magistrates will ride in a carriage pulled by ticket of leave men (prisoners on early release) and the mayor will ride on a dray cart.

We hear of council officials drawn in sedan chairs, oriental howdahs, and paniers, or if too drunk pushed in wheelbarrows or prams.

The route of the procession this time takes in less salubrious parts of town, such as Ship Yard, Gas Street, and Cockhedge. Here it is joined by the likes of street scavengers in a dung cart and chimney sweeps bearing sacks of soot, before reaching the “Flashy End” of town where the “fancy” join the procession.

We also read that the town’s drinking fountains will flow with Brandy, but will be guarded by members of the Order of Rechabites (a Friendly Society set up by temperance supporters).


So, if you are feeling that people have gone a bit overboard with this year’s royal wedding celebrations, just be thankful there isn’t a parade of hundreds through the town centre; and if you are feeling that the town hasn’t celebrated enough, then why not use this as a template for the next royal event?

Helen Parker – President of Warrington Women’s Liberal Association, Suffragist and J.P. 1865 – 1941

Today I have a further blog for you written by our volunteer Carol. You will remember that Carol has been looking into Women’s Suffrage in Warrington. Today she shares with us the story of another great figure from Warrington’s past.


Mrs Helen Parker


This month I am looking at the political career of Helen Parker. She was born Helen Garnett to a Methodist family in Warrington in 1865. She went on to marry Charles Edward Parker in 1886 who was a fellow Liberal supporter and a prominent tannery owner in Warrington. Throughout her life Helen played an active role working to improve the lives of others.

Prior to the passage of the Representation of the People Act 1918 Helen Parker was a member of the Warrington Women’s Liberal Association (W.W.L.A.) and a major figure in their activities. The local Association participated in the National Annual Meeting in London where in May 1905 there were over 1000 delegates from the nation’s local associations.   From 1905 to 1906 the W.W.L.A. promoted the Liberal Party’s cause by fundraising, clerical work and produced “A Ladies Manifesto” outlining their support for Free Trade to safe guard rights and purchasing power. This Manifesto was recognised by the Liberal Party in Warrington and was read out at several of Warrington’s General Election meetings. Even though the Liberal women had no vote they continued to work for the election of the Liberal candidate Mr A. H. Crosfield, who was elected in the 1906 General Election. At a post – election congratulatory dinner Helen Parker spoke of Women’s Suffrage and this summarised the Liberal’s Suffragist view – enfranchisement on the same terms as men and Suffragists actions rather than Suffragette protests. (Warrington Guardian 21/03/1906)

The Warrington Women’s Suffragist Society (W.W.S.S) was another part of her political life as in 1908 she sat on the Committee. Furthermore the Parliamentary Debating Society in London on 9th April 1908 invited Mrs Parker and other representatives from the Warrington association to a Suffrage debate. Their invitation was accepted and the debate was won by 93 votes to 14. A few years later in 1910 Mrs Parker was one of three Presidents of the W.W.S.S. who was alongside Lily Florence Waring, who was the subject in an earlier blog.

During WW1 the W.W.L.A. suspended their political activities in favour of assisting the Red Cross by their Sewing Class making socks and blankets for the wounded, setting up schemes to aid soldier’s welfare, and helped to raise money for an ambulance sent to the Front as a Christmas gift. She also sat on the Ladies Committee at Whitecross Military Hospital where they visited and issued provisions to the sick and injured.  Mrs Parker humanitarian work also extended to her interest in the tannery workers’ welfare which included housing, canteen, bath house and recreational activities. During  WW1 Helen also established several homes for Belgian refugees in Warrington and she was hostess to 30 homeless Belgians at Hall Nook in Penketh.

Belgian Refugees at Penketh


In the period from March 1917 onwards the debate moves towards women’s place after the war, notably electoral reform. The W.W.L.A. played host to the Women’s Liberal Associations of the Lancashire and Cheshire Union at the 1918 Spring Conference held at Crosfield Memorial Hall in Bewsey Street. The conference addressed ”The Woman’s Point of View” on a number of subjects including The  League of Nations, demand for  equal divorce laws for men and women, a role for women police and prison workers, temperance, and the  blight of venereal disease.

Mrs Parker was unanimously elected President of W.W.L.A. in October 1918. In her role as President she continued to promote the Liberal cause and work for welfare protection, but she also requested women to the use their vote wisely. With the passage of the 1918 Act Warrington had over 12,500 new women electors and it was in their interest and duty to vote responsibly. Only then could the nation address the issues of housing, health, social welfare, the management and care of children. The link between the Warrington Liberal Association and the W.W.L.A. was played out in their joint meeting of November 1918 where Sir Peter Peacock was formally nominated. Mrs Parker as President of W.W.L.A. seconded his candidature.

In a letter from Helen Parker to the Warrington Examiner dated 29th November 1918 she urges the women of Warrington to vote wisely and not shirk responsibility.  In the same vain leading up to the December 1918 General Election Mrs Parker was active at political meetings. Including one at Silver Street School in which she gave advice to Liberal women.  “We want you for the next seven or eight days to become missionaries and do what you can among the women of the town”. The election of Sir Peter Peacock was described by Mrs Parker as women playing a major role in swinging the vote to the Liberal candidate.

Helen was a member of the Executive of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Via The Red Cross, The Bible Society provided Bibles and The New Testament for prisoners of war, refugees, wounded soldiers and members of forces from all sides. She was also active in prevention and rescue work by her involvement at the “Home of the Good Samaritan Warrington” and in 1920 Helen Parker was appointed J.P.

Beyond 1920 until her death in 1941 I do not have further information. Helen died in Newton Le Willows and was buried in Great Sankey in March 1941. I can say in conclusion that her Non – Conformist upbringing influenced her life of Liberal activities, political beliefs and her philanthropic work.


The Harrison Confusion

What connects John Harrison, the inventor of the Marine Chronometer, and Warrington? 

If you’ve used the Google search engine today (3rd April 2018) you may have noticed that the Google Doodle is a picture of clockmaker John Harrison (1693-1776) who would have been 325 years old today. Harrison was a British clockmaker who famously solved the ‘longitude problem’ by creating  a clock called a ‘marine chronometer’ which sailors could use to calculate their longitudinal position at sea. This was one of the most important navigational aids ever invented and made ocean voyages much safer as a result.

John Harrison’s name has long been associated with Warrington and regularly appears on lists of famous people associated with the town. Some time ago you would have been able to see a picture of his house and accompanying workshop in the museum and heritage guides would point out the site of his premises on Bridge Street. There was even a metal sculpture at the corner of Bridge Street and Friar’s Gate in Warrington paying tribute to the clockmaker and his revolutionary chronometer.

So what connects John Harrison with Warrington?

The answer … sadly … is virtually nothing. There is no evidence the clockmaker even visited Warrington, let alone lived in the town.

John Harrison was born near Wakefield in Yorkshire, the son of a carpenter and part-time clockmaker. Around 1700 the family moved to Barrow upon Humber in Lincolnshire. Fascinated with clocks and watches from the age of 6, John built his first longcase clock in 1713 at the age of 20 but it was for maritime clocks that John would become famous.

Following a naval disaster in 1707 in which four warships along with 550 sailors were lost at sea due to navigational errors a British Board of Longitude was established in 1714 to solve the problem of how ships could accurately calculate their longitudinal position at sea. The Board offered a prize of almost £20,000 (equivalent to almost £3 million today) to anyone who could create a device to overcome this problem and Harrison set out to solve the problem by creating a clock that was not affected by temperature, pressure or damp and could keep the time of the reference place.

In 1730 Harrison presented his prototype to the board who were sufficiently impressed to award him money to develop it further. His first working marine chronometer, nicknamed ‘H1’ was completed in 1736. Although it worked admirably Harrison refined the design at least three more times with the fourth and fifth versions (‘H4’ and ‘H5’) providing the template for marine chronometers that would be used up until the 19th century.

With developments in technology replacing the marine chronometer during the Victorian period John Harrison’s fame faded from view somewhat until two things brought his story to the fore again. In 1995 Dava Soubel wrote a book entitled ‘Longitude’ which brought Harrison’s story to the general public and became the first popular bestseller on horology (the study of clocks). The following year in Christmas special of the popular long-running sitcom ‘Only Fools and Horses’ the long suffering main characters finally became millionaires after 15 years upon finding one of Harrison’s original chronometers in a lock-up.

Harrison died on 24th March, 1776, a few days before his 83rd birthday. He is buried in Hampstead along with his 2nd wife and son.

So why was John Harrison – a Yorkshireman who lived in Lincolnshire and who died in London – associated with Warrington?

The confusion seems to have arisen during the 19th century – the earliest reference we can find dates back to 1825 – when local antiquaries were compiling lists of famous Warringtonians and John’s name was somehow included for the first time. We do know that there was a Warrington clock-making family led by Edward Harrison working in Warrington as early as 1769 making them roughly contemporary with each other. Our best guess is that some of our 19th century sources confused the two Harrisons.

The “fact” that John Harrison resided in Warrington was generally accepted well into the 20th century but unfortunately it appears to be just a myth.














Lily Florence Waring Suffragist: 1877 – 1966. Activist, Academic, Artist and Author.

Today’s post, about Lily Waring, is the second written by our volunteer Carol relating to Warrington’s links with Women’s Suffrage.

We don’t have a photograph of Lily, so below I have copied an example of one of her paintings that is held at Warrington Museum.

Spring Flowers

I will pass over to Carol now to share some of her findings relating to Lily:




I first came across Lily Waring’s name in the Warrington Women’s Suffrage Society  fundraising cook book and the annual reports 1908 – 1911. Not only was she a speaker at public meetings and a participant at national demonstrations but she held the positions of Honorary Secretary and Press Secretary at the Warrington Society. This was to change when in 1911 Lily was appointed to the official position of National Organiser for the Women’s Suffrage Society.  In her new role she travelled through the UK and this was recorded in the 1911 Census. On a visit to Penwortham in Preston she is described as “Women’s Suffrage Agitator”. On August 17th 1918 I came across a letter from L.F.Waring to the Warrington Examiner on the issue of “Woman and The Vote” in which she outlines her concerns. This letter and the Census description naturally caught my interest and I decided to try and uncover further biographical details.

Whilst carrying out searches I found that Lily was a graduate of Girton College Cambridge. Later she graduated from Cambridge School of Art, Manchester Art College and later studied in Paris. Lily continued her academic and artistic work throughout her life as a teacher, academic author and artist. Her specialism was Serbian Studies and in 1917 her work “Serbia” was published with a preface by the Serbian Minister in London. Set in the context of WW1 this was a work of significance. This work was successful as it was reprinted a number of times.

Lily’s art also received public attention as she exhibited at the Beaux Gallery in London. Her artistic credentials were further enhanced by several of her paintings selling at the Channel Islands Auction House and at Rosebery’s Auction House London, both prestigious auction houses. Lily’s art is still remembered as a number of her paintings are held in the Warrington Museum’s collection.

Lily the author produced poetry and works of fiction which were published in the 1960’s – Landmarks Poems, Their Several Ways a novel set in the North of England and The Demon Seed to the backdrop of WW1.

From the evidence collected it can be said that Lily Waring was a woman who had many talents. Through these she expressed her thoughts and concerns. Lily Waring  is a name to remember.



St David’s Day


As today is Saint David’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to put up a post with a Welsh theme.

There are some Warringtonians of note with Welsh connections, and of course there have been Welsh Chapels in the town. But the item I have chosen to look at today is “Seithinyn” a poem written in 1895 by Robert Anderton Naylor, Timber Merchant and one time resident of Cuerden Hall in Thelwall.

Naylor later stood as the Conservative candidate against Lloyd George at Carnarvon in the 1906 election, but that is a story for another day.

Naylor’s poem takes as its inspiration the Welsh legend of Cantre’r Gwaelod. Gwaelod was a land said to have existed where Cardigan Bay now is. The story goes that the district was below sea level, but that the sea was kept at bay by a large wall, the gates of which were swung shut at high tide.

I haven’t the time or space here to do justice to the tale itself, but the basic gist of it is that the man responsible for maintaining the walls and insuring that the gates were closed on time was named Seithenyn. One day the ruler of the land, King Gwyddno Garanhir, held a vast feast at which the people of Gwaelod became so drunk that they fell into insensibility.

Meanwhile, a terrible storm was brewing outside the walls. Here different versions of the story vary, with some suggesting that the gates were left open to the storm tide, or that a hole was broken in the walls. In either case warning bells were rung by the one faithful watchman who had stayed by his post during the feast. But no assistance came as Seithenyn and the citizens of Gwaelod were too drunk to be woken.

Gwaelod was lost to the sea, and all of its citizens were drowned except for the faithful watchman and the King’s daughter who escaped to high land and watched the floods claim Gwaelod.

Local legend has it that on quiet days you can hear the warning bell ringing out across Cardigan Bay.

In the Triads of the Island of Britain, an early collection of Welsh folklore, Seithenyn is named as one of the Three Immortal Drunkards of the Isle of Britain.

It is perhaps not surprising that the story Naylor chose to put to poetry warns of the perils of drinking. He was a well-known teetotaller and an important member of the temperance movement both in Warrington and Nationally. Of course it may be coincidence that he was so taken with this particular fable, but I think perhaps the moral lesson here was too good to miss.

A copy of Naylor’s poem is held in the archives and can be consulted in the Searchroom, its reference number is Wp2050.

Mabel Capper

Today – February 6th 2018 – is the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which enabled some women over the age of 30 to vote for the first time and paved the way for universal suffrage 10 years later.

To celebrate this we are profiling Mabel Capper, Warrington’s first female journalist who devoted much of her life to the struggle for women’s suffrage.

Manchester-born Mabel Capper came from a family of active suffrage campaigners. Her mother was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union and her father and brother were involved in the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.

Mabel started her career as a journalist at the young age of 10 by editing a manuscript magazine and quickly became the first female journalist on the Warrington Examiner in 1907. Described as the “engaging lady journalist” she actively publicly corresponded with other local newspapers such as the Manchester Guardian, arguing the cause for women’s suffrage.

Between the years 1907 and 1912 Mabel dedicated much of her time to the cause, including taking part in by-elections and protest campaigns throughout the country. She also took part in more militant activities such as the disruption of political meetings and polling stations as well as window-breaking. She was even one of 4 suffragettes accused of targeting Prime Minister Asquith with a bomb in Dublin, a charge that was eventually withdrawn.

Mabel was imprisoned a total of six times and was one of the first suffragettes to be force-fed as the result of a hunger strike.

In 1912 her first play, entitled ‘The Betrothal of Number 13’ was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The subject matter was the stigma imposed by imprisonment, even on the innocent.

Following the declaration of war in 1914, Mabel became a nurse with the Voluntary Aid Detachment, later becoming involved with the pacifist and socialist movements. After the war she returned to journalism and worked as a journalist on the Daily Herald.

Mabel married fellow writer Cecil Chisholm in Hampstead in 1921. Following the Second World War she moved to Hastings, where she died in 1966.

Our display ‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’ celebrating the Warrington women who fought for women’s suffrage runs until 28th April 2018.

Dr Mary Anderson Noble

As you probably know, 2018 marks 100 years since women over the age of thirty gained the right to vote. To commemorate this event the museum has put up a display showing some of the hard work and campaigning that went on in Warrington at the time.

As part of this commemoration Carol, one of our volunteers, has been researching the stories around some of the women campaigners in the town and the struggles they went through in their fight for equal rights.

In this set of blog entries Carol will share some of her findings with you.

Today’s post, the first in the series, looks at Dr Mary Anderson Noble, and from here I pass over to Carol:


Dr Mary Anderson Noble


I thought it would be interesting to see the photograph of Dr Noble as not only we can put a name to a face but we can also consider her role in Warrington during WW1.

Looking at the picture we could make a generalisation. She comes across as a well-dressed and fashionable woman of the period but we can go beyond this.  If we read the headline and the article it is clear that Dr Noble was a key figure in Warrington’s history as she was appointed “Warrington’s First Lady Doctor” at Whitecross  Military Hospital.

Today women doctors are an accepted part of the medical profession but in 1917 Dr Mary Anderson Noble Mb Chb was an exception. Even more impressive was the fact that she was appointed House Surgeon at Whitecross. In 1917 Dr Noble was leading the way as she succeeded in  a male dominated profession and was appointed to a significant position at Whitecross Military Hospital where the “Boys worshipped Dr Noble” (Warrington Examiner – Happy Whitecross 28/04/1017 p5 col 6).

There is one question that I wish I knew the answer to. When she married William C.  Mackie in 1919 did she leave the profession to take up domesticity as women were expected to or did she continue as a doctor and surgeon?

Whatever the answer it is clear that Mary Anderson Noble changed attitudes and expectations.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the first of my posts, there are plenty more to come, Carol.