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Source: City of Wakefield

​Wakefield Council is backing a project to recognise the achievements of three notable women in the district who were at the forefront of the 19th century anti-slavery movement.

​The ‘Visionary Women of Westgate’ project, is part of the Forgotten Women of Wakefield campaign, which sets out to achieve blue plaque parity in Wakefield by 2028 – by researching notable local women and awarding blue plaques inscribed with their names – to be placed on buildings to which they have a connection.

The Visionary Women of Westgate project will highlight three women who were at the forefront of the anti-slavery movement in Wakefield from 1852 onwards.

Ann Hurst was a visionary newspaper woman who, when she took over the running of The Wakefield and Halifax Journal in 1825, decided to support not only the abolitionist movement in Wakefield, but the early suffragist and temperance movement by printing positive propaganda pieces for the cause.

Miss Elizabeth Dawson was not only the secretary of Wakefield’s first Ladies’ anti-slavery society in 1857 but went onto become a prominent member and secretary of the 1860 Wakefield Anti-Slavery Association, one of the first mixed gendered anti-slavery associations in Great Britain. 

Sarah Parker Remond was an escaped slave from America who gave inspirational lectures at The Corn Exchange during 1860 after which the anti-slavery movement in Wakefield gathered momentum, with members putting pressure on Parliament to act. 

The project is being supported with a grant for cultural programmes from Wakefield Westgate High Street Heritage Action Zone and by Wakefield Civic Society – enabling Dream Time Creative to carry out the research.

Cllr Jacquie Speight, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Wakefield Council, said: “This is a fantastic project which supports blue plaque parity and it is very important that we get to hear about women who made an historic contributions to the anti-slavery movement, so their names are known and are visible to residents and visitors to our city in the years to come.”

Sarah Cobham, Director of Dream Time Creative, said: “The strength and vision of Women from Wakefield’s past never cease to amaze me. The more we research, the more we realise they were at the vanguard of every socially important movement in the land. It was, of course, only after the women demonstrated a need for reform did the men get involved and I am delighted that once again, Wakefield women living on Westgate were at the forefront of social and cultural change. 

Kevin Trickett, President of Wakefield Civic Society, said: We are delighted to continue our partnership with Dream Time Creative on their Forgotten Women of Wakefield project and our shared aspiration to achieve ‘blue plaque parity’. As we are now also working with Wakefield Council on the Westgate Heritage Action Zone project, we invited Sarah and her team to undertake research on possible female candidates for new blue plaques to go up in the area.

“The facts they have uncovered about the lives of these three women are fascinating in themselves but they also shed new light on Wakefield’s strong association with the anti-slavery movement. Once again, the research shows how women have helped to shape our city, culturally, economically, socially and even politically. It is right that these contributions are brought to public attention and that they are given greater prominence in the stories we can tell about Wakefield.

Nicky Brown from Historic England, said: “It’s wonderful that we’re able to help fund such a worthwhile project through the Wakefield Westgate High Street Heritage Action Zone. By celebrating and uncovering the stories of these unsung heroines of the abolitionist movement, I hope Visionary Women of Westgate will give local residents a sense of pride in the positive role their town played in making slavery history.”  

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