In 2019, Bradford Civic Society commissioned four new blue plaques to honour some great women of the city who had little (or no) recognition elsewhere. On International Women’s Day 2020, here’s a bit about who’s been honoured so far, and which new plaques will be installed this year.
Malachi Whitaker – Clara Road, Wrose
The ‘Bradford Chekhov’ left school aged 13, but went on to publish five volumes os short stories and a memoir with Jonathan Cape. Many of her stories were read on BBC Radio. The plaque was unveiled in October by Malachi’s relatives, Valerie Tordoff and Alistair Whitaker.
Barbara Jane Harrison – Kingsdale Crescent, Bolton Road
Barbara Jane Harrison was a cabin crew member for British Airways who died whilst evacuating many passengers from a burning aircraft at Heathrow Airport on 8 April 1968. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross for bravery – the first female recipient of the honour in peacetime. Her plaque was unveiled at City Hall in October by Barbara’s sister, Sue, and Bradford Council Chief Executive Kersten England.
Julia Varley – City Centre, 2020 installation
Julia Varley, OBE was a trade unionist pioneer and suffragette who was born in Bradford in 1871. In 1886, at a time when it’s a “moral crime for women to be in unions”, 15-year-old Julia becomes branch secretary of the Bradford Weavers’ and Textile Workers’ Union. Having campaigned for women to have the right to vote, and served on the General Council of the Trade Union Congress, Varley was appointed OBE in 1931. Her plaque will be unveiled in summer 2020 in central Bradford.
Florence Moser – City Centre, 2020 installation
Florence was a prominent member of Bradford’s Jewish community and a great philanthropist who pioneered nursery care for the children and babies of working mothers. As well as being a founding funder of Bradford Royal Infirmary, Moser opened a small place in Westgate, known as “The Nest”, where mothers could leave their babies and young children to be cared for and fed during the day. She established the City Guild of Help, a form of organised help for the poor and distressed, a system which has been adopted in many other places on the Bradford model. Her plaque will be unveiled in summer 2020 in central Bradford.
Margaret McMillan – Hanover Square, Bradford
McMillan CH CBE was an early years education pioneer and was instrumental in the passing of the 1906 Provision of School Meals Act. Margaret McMillan tower – a local authority building in central Bradford – is also named in Margaret’s honour.
Florence White – Bradford Mechanics’ Institute, Kirkgate, Bradford
Prior to the establishment of the Bradford Civic Society blue plaque scheme, a plaque was installed for Florence White on Kirkgate in 2007. Together with her sister Annie, Florence set up the National Spinsters’ Pensions Association in 1935 and travelled across the UK holding public meetings and lobbying Parliamentarians. By 1940 she had succeeded in meeting most of her objectives, thereby relieving the plight of women who had no husband to provide a pension for them.
The Brontë Sisters – Thornton Village
Bradford Civic Society have commissioned a new blue plaque to mark the birthplace of the world-famous literary sisters. The plaque has been manufactured, and more details about its installation will be revealed later this year.
If you would like to nominate someone for a new blue heritage plaque, get in touch with us here.
To all great women of Bradford – past, present, and future – thank you for your contribution to our city.