Nominated by Lauren Padgett, Assistant Collections Curator, Bradford Museums and Galleries
“On the current Mechanics’ Institute building at Kirkgate is Florence White’s blue plaque. At the old Mechanics’ Institute, since demolished, on Bridge Street in April 1935, Florence had held an inaugural meeting which resulted in the founding of the National Spinsters’ Pensions Association.
“Born in 1886 in Bradford, Florence would become a committed women’s rights campaigner. As Secretary for the South Bradford Liberal Party, her eyes were opened to the impoverished plight and financial precarity of unmarried older Bradford women. They faced fewer and lower paid job opportunities and were often unpaid carers for others. The few that could make health insurance contributions often died before they could receive their benefit of a pension at the age of 65.
“As a ‘spinster’ herself, Florence set out to resolve this issue by lowering the pensionable age for unmarried women. After the inaugural meeting in Bradford and several years of hard graft, nationwide meetings, mass rallies and petitions, attracting 140,000 National Spinsters’ Pensions Association members and the support of hundreds of MPs, the government lowered the pensionable age for all women to 60 in 1940.
“The fact that Florence, determined and resolute, became an advocate spearheading the campaign to improve the lives and rights of unmarried older women – a group that were at best overlooked and undervalued and at worse invisible in society – is admirable and one example of the compassion, fortitude and tenacity of Bradford lasses. That same spirit lives on today.”
This plaque was installed by Bradford: City for Peace as part of their 2007 trail.