How Bradford is addressing gender imbalance in new street names

A local hero is to be honoured by having a street named for her in Bradford.

Suffragettes at a protest in London.
Suffragettes at a protest in London.

Lillian Armitage, born in 1885, was a local suffragette who campaigned actively for women’s rights to vote and was even briefly imprisoned during her fight to help secure women’s suffrage.

The street-naming is part of the Bradford Pioneering Lasses campaign which aims to further improve the gender balance around Bradford district when it comes to publically honouring historical figures.

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Historical women

A list was put together earlier this year by representatives from Bradford Council and Bradford Civic Society of women from the district who have historical importance in a bid to re-dress the gender imbalance in how the city's buildings and streets are named for the people of Bradford’s past.

As part of this, a list of names has been drawn up and is checked against all future housing developments in order that Bradford’s pioneering women can be considered for street naming and Lillian Armitage is the first name on the list to be selected for commemoration.

She became a teacher in the Bradford Socialist Sunday school and was part of the cohort who attempted to enter the House of Commons, getting arrested on February 14 1907. At her trial she was found guilty and ordered to serve fourteen days in prison. Her name is on the Role of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners.

When she was arrested she was the Secretary of the ‘Women’s Social and Political Union’ a faction of the suffragette movement based in Bradford which had its base in 61 Manningham Lane and a development on the corner of Green Lane and Lumb Lane, Bradford will be named ‘Lillian Armitage Close’.

This is set to be confirmed by councillors at the Bradford West Area Committee meeting on June 19.

Exhibition

As part of the Pioneering Bradford Lasses initiative, a permanent exhibition has also been created in Bradford City Hall which includes 14 framed photographs of pioneering women from Bradford’s past, including the Lister’s Mill Strike Committee and Florence White who campaigned for single women to get decent pensions.

A pop up version of the exhibition will be touring the district, going to schools and community venues over the next year, starting with Belle Vue Girls’ Academy from tomorrow (Friday) to Friday July 19.

The following locations have also been confirmed as part of the pop-up tour:

Kirkgate Market: 22 July - 16 August

Oastler Market: 16 August - 13 September

St George Hall: Heritage Open Day Saturday 14 September

Keighley Market: 17 September - 11 October

There are also plans for the exhibition to go to Airedale Shopping Centre in Keighley.

Coun Sarah Ferriby, portfolio holder for Better Health, Better Lives, said: “I work in City Hall most days and while there are rightly many pictures of the old industrialists and alderman who helped shape our district, these are by and large, male figures. This exhibition offers the chance to redress this balance and promote more of our district’s pioneering ‘lasses’.

“I look forward to seeing more of the women from our past in my visits to City Hall, and indeed throughout the district and hope that Lillian Armitage will be the first of many women to be publically honoured in in the district.

“By raising the profile of our Pioneering Lasses in Bradford we hope to inspire young women across the district to go on and make their own history.”