Alice Beale is perhaps best known as the first President of the Birmingham Settlement from 1899 to 1924, a charity ‘originally providing support to women and families in the seriously deprived area of St Mary’s, now known as Newtown‘.
She had associations with the Birmingham Women’s Hospital for 63 years and proposed the introduction of women Health Visitors.
I’m struggling to find out much more about Alice, though the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery do have a beautiful brooch/necklace she owned whilst Lady Mayoress. I have also gleaned from the National Archives website, that her husband, Charles Beale was Lord Mayor on four occasions, including three successive terms from 1897~1900. In addition to his political career, he was in legal practice with their two sons. No mention of any daughters – which of course doesn’t mean there weren’t any!
How different would life have been for the women of Birmingham without these kind of women. And I wonder, if they had been alive today, in a society more equal for women, what they could have achieved.
I was delighted a wee while back to find this great piece about Birmingham’s women philanthropists on the Birmingham Disability Resource Centre’s website. I’m not sure when it was written, but the author was clearly on the same page as me in terms of seeking to recognise and champion the role of women in Birmingham. They were clearly also drawn to the Philanthropists over the years. Well worth a read.
It’s that time of year again, when the Queen gains a birthday and a few fine folk gain an award in recognition of their work for the nation – or a part of it. Unfortunately the women this year have a very limited presence online, so please excuse the poor quality of the linking information!
So, here are the Birmingham Women honoured in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List 2010:
Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Housing. For services to the Housing Sector.
The full list is here, Directgov tells us that women this year make up 47% of the list.
This is an interesting story for here for a couple of reasons. The artist, Rosalba Carriera, is from Venice and is only the third woman to have a piece displayed among the collection of fine art. Frankly shocking, but progress I guess!
The other interesting story relates to the donor. Elnora Ferguson left a generous bequest to the Barber which completed their fund-raising campaign and allowed them to purchase this artwork. So, who is Elnora Ferguson? Well, a fascinating and fantastic woman it seems to me.
A Quaker, she chaired the National Peace Council (and her local Selly Oak branch). Her voluntary work and charitable donations were recognised when two local universities awarded her honorary degrees (Coventry University and the University of Birmingham). She came originally from Lancashire, but clearly left her mark on our fair city as a highly active citizen, member of the Lunar Society, educationalist and equality campaigner. Truly a modern day philanthropist.
Whilst researching Dame Hilda Lloyd for our list of great Brummie women, I came across this article in the Times Higher. What a peculiar story. Highly appropriate for here as it links two of the women on our list (Hilda Lloyd and Jane Bunford) and creates an intriguing connection with the fabulous Gracie. We may not be able to claim her as a great Birmingham Woman, but if the story is true, she certainly left her mark on the city in a more direct way than we might have predicted!
Anne Courbet set up the Friends of Brandwood End Cemetry with Barrie Simpson, in 2005 because it was a crucial part of their heritage. It was important to them to protect this Victorian Cemetery and they knew that they could just try and do it. Creating a friends scheme has proved to be an effective way of nurturing the community that is already active there. The cemetery closed to burials a year earlier, but wait, now I’m telling their story, which they tell far better themselves on this interview on the Grassroots Channel with Nick Booth.
So, why do I blog about this? Two reasons. This site is about celebrating the contribution of Brummie Women. Anne represents hundreds of ordinary Brummies who care enough to act and she deserves our support and recognition. The second reason is more sentimental. I’ve known Anne for over 30 years, she is the mother of my brother’s school mate and our families lives have weaved in and out for years. They are an important part of our heritage. Anne’s daughter, Sarah is now also a Trustee. Together with others they are protecting an important part of our city’s heritage. I reckon that deserves a bit of celebration.
I wish you all the best of luck with this inspiring project, and thank you.
P.S. Their website has a page of photos called the The Mary Harding Postcard Collection, from which the image above is taken. Thanks to Mary Harding – and who the devil are you? I’m off to do some research, she’s got be worth a post all of her own…