FWW Blue Plaque Trail
Through the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project we have been able to see the beating heart of our city’s hidden history.
On this page, we hope to give to you an insight into the history we are uncovering through an easy to use interactive map. Remember, we’re adding to this map all the time, so check back often!
Dream Time Creative has also worked outside of Wakefield centre to erect blue plaques commemorating:
Baroness Alice Bacon – located at Normanton Town Hall and unveiled as part of International Women’s Day 2018.
Elizabeth Moxon – located on Finkle Street in Pontefract and unveiled in March of 2019.
How We Work Out Our Blue Plaque Parity Totals
You might have noticed that there are a few different numbers we use to calculate our progress in the quest for #BluePlaqueParity.
When we began our journey in 2018, men were named in a total of 41 blue plaques compared to just four for women.
To complicate things, notable people are often named on blue plaques that are actually dedicated to buildings or important events. Why is this important? Well, when we talk about reaching Blue Plaque Parity for women this means that we have a couple of different sets of numbers that we have to wrestle with: the number of blue plaques solely dedicated to men in Wakefield, and the number dedicated to buildings that also mention men.
A further wrinkle is where we apply the cut-off for what counts as a “Wakefield blue plaque”. Should our catchment extend the entirety of the Wakefield postcode (which could change over time depending on how boundaries change)? Or should it be something more concrete?
We decided that while we would be only too happy to help uncover forgotten women in nearby districts, for example our work memorialising Alice Bacon in Normanton and Elizabeth Moxon in Pontefract, when it comes to the Blue Plaque Parity number, only blue plaques in central Wakefield count. The official boundary we use is based on the precedent established by the Wakefield Civic Society who have been our cultural allies from early in this project and with whom we have blue plaqued a number of our women.
We also have to remember that the Civic Society had already blue plaqued a handful of amazing women.
Those women are Dame Barbara Hepworth, Richmal Mangnall, Constance Edith Heward, and Nellie Spindler.
A further consideration was how we would count our women. If two women were named on a single blue plaque, should that only count as one? When we first started our journey, this is how we counted our blue plauqes, but we quickly realised we were doing ourselves (and our women!) a disservice. We will sometimes group women on blue plaques where their stories are so linked that separating them would lead to us duplicating the same blue plaque, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t count as two separate names. So, for women like the Ellen and Margaret Gissing, they appear on the same blue plaque — but they should count as two because they are two different women with different lives, loves and stories. Of course, we have applied this same rule to men to make sure we are playing fairly and to make sure we give the great men in the city their due, too.
We also considered what we might do about if we were to dedicate more than one blue plaque to our women. This isn’t a common practice in an area the size of Wakefield, but it does happen. For example, Florence Beaumont has her own blue plaque, but she is also mentioned in a blue plaque for the Beaumont Building on the site of the old West Yorkshire Archives.
Today, we are significantly closer to achieving Blue Plaque Parity, but there is still much more work to be done!
Louisa Fennell’s Walking Trail
Now you can explore Wakefield through Louisa Fennell’s eyes with our walking trail. Use the Google Map below to follow in her footsteps and see the sights she painted. To begin, start at the star on Trinity Walk and follow the purple dots!