Thursday, 7 August 2008

100 years of women in local government

Sefton is playing its part in the celebration of 100 years in local government amongst the material produced is a booklet detailing examples of some of the women who led the way. The first women to serve on any public body in Southport was a Birkdale Liberal, Kate Ryley, way back in 1889. In those days there was a separate local authority in Birkdale and it had its own education board to oversee Board Schools set up by the 1870 Education Act. Unless my memory is faulty the Birkdale Primary School in Bury Rd was a Board School. Miss Ryley was appointed to the Birkdale Education Board in 1889 and when it was abolished she was appointed to Lancashire County Council Education Committee until she resigned in 1925.
Kate Ryley was an active the Women's Liberal Federation and in the movement for women's sufferage in the town being a prominent member of the local Women's Sufferage Society. Her list of activities promoting both women and education is impressive. I particularly liked her initiative to help teachers get access to the books they needed by starting the 'Pedagogue Library'. Following her parents example she was closely involved with the work begun by Josephine Butler who did so much to reform the law as it impacted on prostitutes and worked with the delightfully named Moral and Social Hygiene Association.