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Blue plaques in Ipswich for Margaret Tempest, Nina Layard, Constance Andrews and Mary Whitmore

PUBLISHED: 07:17 03 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:03 03 October 2016

Margaret Tempest. Photo: The Ipswich Society.

Margaret Tempest. Photo: The Ipswich Society.

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Four new blue plaques are to be unveiled in Ipswich this weekend to commemorate inspirational women who have made their mark in the town.

Blue plaques for amazing women

Margaret Tempest (1892-1982) Distinguished artist and co-founder of The Chelsea Illustrators. She is best known for her illustrations of the Little Grey Rabbit books by Alison Uttley.

Nina Layard (1853-1935) Archaeologist and first woman to be President of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. She had a ground-breaking career at a time when women struggled to make headway in the professions.

Constance Andrews (b1864) Social reformer and prominent suffragette. She was a courageous woman who led protests in Ipswich in the campaign for Votes for Women.

Mary Whitmore MBE (1884-1974) First female mayor of Ipswich. She worked tirelessly to improve the life chances of people living in the town.

From the first female mayor of Ipswich, to a suffragette who led local protests in the campaign for Votes for Women, the candidates were chosen for their extraordinary contribution to the town’s history.

Ipswich Women’s Festival Group, working in conjunction with The Ipswich Society, hopes the move will go some way to redressing the under-representation of blue plaques for women in Ipswich.

The four new additions will mean there will be six tributes to women, and 16 to men – a far cry from equality but great progress.

Joy Bounds, of the Ipswich Women’s Festival Group, said there were plans to gain blue plaques for two more historically significant women: adventuress and chronicler Margaret Catchpole, and the first headmistress of Ipswich High School for Girls, Sophie Youngman.

“The idea behind the whole thing is that the contribution of women in Ipswich life over the centuries hasn’t really been acknowledged or researched or talked about,” Ms Bounds said.

“So it’s an opportunity via the blue plaques to bring everyone’s attention to those women.

“The people who tend to be in charge of this kind of commemoration are groups that have traditionally been dominated or run by men and as we find with so many things the importance of public-dealing women isn’t acknowledged, isn’t even thought about.

“I don’t I think it’s deliberate, it’s just that women aren’t thought about in those terms and that really has been one of the purposes of our group to discover and celebrate those women.”

The idea was first raised four to five years ago when the Ipswich Women’s Festival Group put together the Ipswich Women’s History Trail, which celebrated the lives and work of 21 significant women.

It was then that Ipswich borough councillor Carole Jones suggested the group try to secure blue plaques for some of those important female figures.

Since then the group has worked alongside The Ipswich Society, which is responsible for blue plaques in the town, to make the dream come to life.

Ms Bounds added: “The other thing we really like about the blue plaques is they are such a simple way of bringing somebody to the attention of people just walking about and linking the person with a specific building.

“It makes them known to people and then they might try and find out more for themselves.”

Tony Marsden, vice chairman of The Ipswich Society, said the achievement was significant because the town would usually only get one or two new blue plaques each year.

He added: “We thought the cause was a brilliant cause, it deserved to have real appreciation and it deserved to be blazoned to the town.”

On the date of unveiling, The Ipswich Society will publish a new brochure that details all of the town’s blue plaques. There are already blue plaques in Ipswich for Britain’s first female pilot, Edith Cook, and Victorian author, Jean Ingelow.

Cathy Power, of English Heritage, which runs the London blue plaque scheme, said: “I am delighted that Ipswich is taking such a great step forward to increase the number of women honoured in their borough.

“A local plaque scheme is such a wonderful way to acknowledge the role of women in history and the link to the building in which they lived and worked.”

Members of the public are invited to join the Ipswich Women’s Festival Group on a tour of the blue plaques on Saturday. The route will go as follows:

Margaret Tempest, 2pm, corner of St Edmund’s Road and Henley Road;

Nina Layard, 2.45pm, Blackfriars, Foundation Street;

Constance Andrews, 3.15pm, Arlingtons Brasserie, Museum Street;

and Mary Whitmore MBE, 3.45pm, Ipswich Town Hall.

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