2020-12-16 6:33

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Blue Plaque For Local Suffragette Involved With Health And Safety

Paying tribute to working women's history is something, as a female activist and Branch Officer dealing with Health & Safety; that Beverley Kenyon CWU Health and Safety Officer Bootle Financial Services takes seriously.

Pic: Beverley KenyonHere she reports on an event she was due to attend to unveil a plaque for Harriett Emma Mahood in Burscough Lancashire, but due to the Covid-19 virus the public event was cancelled. Lol Critchley, CWU member from her branch was on the organising committee for the event.

Beverley told Unionsafety: "The plaque was placed anyway and we are hoping to attend the postponed public event when we are able too."

Harriett Emma Mahood was born in Liverpool 1860.

Her father opened a Temperance Tea room when they lived in London at which she helped out and as a result, then got involved in business and politics. Finally she came back to live in Burscough on Merseyside.

She was known as having a robust character which led her here to help the welfare and health safety of the Boer women and children in British concentration camps.

Pic: Blue PlaqueIn 18 months Camp death figures were 26,000 of which 24 were children. Incensed by this, she wrote to the London Daily New Express with her shock and horror on what was happening. In her letter to the paper, Harriett wrote:

‘During the early stages of the war fever I was hopeful that the spectacle of Englishmen going to war with the Boers in order to obtain the franchise for the Uttlanders of the Transvaal would have been too much for the sense of humour of women, the ‘Uttlander of society’ at home.'

The conditions these women and children lived in where horrifying due to overcrowding and the lack of hygiene measures. Some never had shelter and slept outside in all weathers. Poor diets, widespread disease like Diphtheria, and Typhoid fever with malnutrition alongside as well. No vegetables and milk for children.

Death in childbirth, not a very nice picture. No medical staff and medicines around. They were kept separate from the husbands taken away in oxcarts so mental health issues were high if not recognised in those days.

Sorry to say the refugees today have similar problems. How sad all those years later.

Harriett helped families throughout the Baptist church as well over Health and Welfare issues - lack of food and poor housing conditions. In between she was fighting for women to have the right to vote and got involved in WSPU and became a member of the independent Labour party in Lancashire.

Source: Images of Burscough video - YouTube link / The Anglo-Boer War: a chronology , Pretoria: Lapa.| Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds)(1970). / Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa , Cape Town: NASOU, v. 3, p. 378-380.| Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds)(1970). / Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa , Cape Town: NASOU, v. 5, p. 544-546.

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