Leeds’ most inspirational women set to be honoured on walls of council chamber

Have your say on Leeds’ most inspirational women.

Inspiring women who have made their mark on Leeds are set to have their names etched in history at Leeds Civic Hall.

It’s time to have your say on which women of Leeds have made their biggest mark on history.

People across the city are being asked to help decide which remarkable women from history will have their names inscribed on the walls of Leeds Civic Hall’s prestigious Council Chamber.

A consultation has now been launched, closing on Friday 1 March, asking for residents’ views on those that might be recognised.

Leeds locals are being asked to choose from an initial list of six women, who have each blazed a trail in their own, unique way, whilst also being invited to make their own suggestions as to who might be included.

Image: Leeds City Council

The initial list features:

  • Gertrude Paul – the city’s first black head teacher and an advocate for the Afro-Caribbean community in Yorkshire
  • Leonara Cohen OBE – a leading member of the campaign for the right of women to vote, who was arrested for smashing a glass case at the Tower of London
  • Alice Bacon CBE – became the city’s first female MP and later served as a Home Office minister in the 1960s where she oversaw the abolition of the death penalty, the legalisation of abortion and the decriminalisation of homosexuality
  • Beryl Burton OBE – the racing cyclist who dominated the sport in the UK and abroad, winning more than 90 domestic championships and seven world titles
  • The Barnbow Lasses – these were the women and girls who worked in the Barnbow Munitions Factory during World War One, 35 of them were killed in an explosion in 1916
  • Ivy Benson – a saxophonist and bandleader, who led an all-female swing band. Her band were the first entertainers to be invited to perform at the VE celebrations in Berlin in 1945.

The names of those chosen will be announced on International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March, and will form part of a report for the final decision making process.

The names formally agreed will be added to the walls of the chamber alongside the men from the city’s past who already feature there.

Image: Leeds City Council

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for resources, said: “As a city, Leeds has a very proud track record of honouring those who laid the foundations of the place we know and love today.

“However, there’s no question that the names which currently feature on the walls of the Council Chamber echo a time when the accomplishments of women were not held in the same high esteem which they are today.

“It’s high time we began to address that imbalance, to ensure that the achievements of these truly remarkable women get that same recognition and that their names stand as a lasting inspiration for future generations.”

To take apart, visit their website here.

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Featured image – Leeds City Council

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