Brighton and Hove Women’s History Group
Autumn/Winter Newsletter 2023

We have had a very busy few months and thought we would update you with what we have been up to as the year draws to a close.  

We were delighted to be featured in Sussex Life Magazine in March 2023.  Katy Rice interviewed our Chair Jenny, who told her all about our new project Working Class Women of The 20th Century.  One of the women uncovered during research undertaken is Molly Paley, who was a very successful musician in the early part of the 20th century, and at one time was the lead violinist for the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, performing regularly at The Grand Hotel, and other places.  Indeed, the BPO were so interested in our research that an article was published in their March newsletter about Molly Paley.  We are planning to get a campaign started to raise funds for a plaque for Molly Paley sometime in the new year.  Look out for further information on our website.

In March we also gave a talk at Jubilee Library on Unsung Heroines of Brighton where we discussed more of the history of these wonderful women whose lives have gone largely unacknowledged.  The talk was well attended and very popular.  March turned into a busy month for us as we held our regular stall at International Women’s Day at The Dome in Brighton.  As usual the event attracted many people and it was good to meet so many of our followers who came up and chatted to us on our stall.  Many new people signed up to our mailing list too.  

Our research project continues to go very well and we have uncovered some amazing stories, including laundresses, 

musicians, artists and much more.    One of our members has researched the history of her street and uncovered an interesting variety of occupations of women discovered in the 1911 and 1921 censuses.

Plaque Group:  Some of our members are particularly interested in getting more plaques for the many deserving women we have come across.  With this in mind, a group was formed to take things forward and we meet up regularly to discuss further work and research on this.

In September we had a stall at The Regency Town House,along with Queenspark Books, to celebrate Heritage Open Day.  This was a lovely event with things going on all over the house, run by people who all love history!    

Later on in September we did a talk for the Ageing Well Festival at Hove Library, which was a great success.  Our subject was Stories of women From Brighton’s Past where we told the stories of individual women from the 19th and 20thcenturies who had links to Brighton and Hove, and whose achievements have been forgotten and never celebrated.  Musicians, teachers, glove makers, photographers, laundresses, landladies, doctors, blacksmiths, swimmers, trade unionists, mayors, political activits and more.   The talk generated lots of discussion afterwards and raised topics for further research in the future.  It was so successful that we have decided to do two talks for the festival next year.

In October we had the opportunity to go on a very interesting history walk which was put together for the festivalDreamyspace, previously known as Brighton Digitalfestival.Along These Lines. An immersive soundwalk exploring Brighton’s laundry heritage. The walk started at Brighton Open Market, going on up to the Roundhill area where there were many laundry businesses.  The walk had a soundscape, accessed through headphones and a mobile phone.  It was put together in colaboration with the organisation Quiet Down There and sound artist Anna Celeste Edmonds.   We were able to meet up with Anna for a chat and share our knowledge, as she was putting the walk together.  One of our members has recently done some research on this subject which was very timely.  It was an interesting walk and good to uncover the laundry industry of Brighton’s past, most of which was undertaken by women, many of who were working in their own homes.

In November we did a talk at Friends Meeting House in Brighton.  We had a lively, engaged audience and the talk generated lots of discussion afterwards.  One audience member told us of her time working at Hanningtons Department Store.  

This is another area of research we would like to explore more.  Many women were employed there and we would like to find out more about working conditions for women in the early days of the store.  Other well known Brightondepartment stores, now gone, are The Co-op in London Road, and Vokins in North Street.  There must be many women out there with stories to tell and this is another area of research ripe for development if anyone is interested.  There is lots to do, and so many subjects.  Women’s history covers something for everyone and there is lots more to discover.

Up-coming events:  In March 2024 we will be holding a small exhibition in Jubilee Library to coincide with Women’s History month.  There will be events taking place all over the city.  We will have our usual stall at The Dome on International Women’s Day which will be held on 9th March 2024.  We are also planning to start our campaign and fundraising towards a plaque for Molly Paley.  More details to follow.  One of our members has raised funds and organised a plaque for Mary Hare (1866 – 1945) a Suffragette, women police volunteer, teacher and founder of schools for deaf children. The plaque will be unveiled on the house in Hove where Mary lived.  Look out for more information about thison our website, Facebook, and local press.

Drop-in Tuesdays:  Our monthly drop-in meetings at Jubilee Library continue to go well.  These are held on the second Tuesday of each month 5.30-7.00pm, followed by drinks in the pub afterwards for anyone who would like to join us.  Everyone is welcome, so do come along, we would love to see you. We always have some interesting discussions and it is nice to hear what other people are doing.  If anyone needs any help with research or getting started we are happy to help.  Lots of ideas are generated when we all come together and it can be very inspiring.  You will find us in the back of the library in our usual spot, look out for our sign which will be on the table. By Maria Hogg

Just get in touch if you would like to find out more about getting involved.
For further interest: