02 Monuments to Women

Our second Discover Wakefield leaflet looks at the monuments to women that can be found around the city centre. Click here to download a copy of the leaflet, compiled by Sarah Cobham, Helga Fox and Kevin Trickett. Our definition of a monument in this context is both something which celebrates the life of a woman or something which records the involvement of a woman in an event or activity that is part of the city’s history.

Working with Dream Time Creative, the Society has pledged to add to our blue plaque collection more blue plaques that commemorate the lives and accomplishments of women. Typically, it is the successes of men that are celebrated while the contribution made by women goes unrecorded and, in consequence, their stories are lost to us.

The team at Dream Time Creative have embarked on their Forgotten Women of Wakefield project to address this imbalance and their diligent research has started to uncover some of the fascinating women who, in their time, made an impact on Wakefield’s social, cultural, political and economic life. One of the objects of the project is to achieve #blueplaqueparity, where the number of blue plaques that the Society has erected to men matches the number of blue plaques we have up to women. At the time of writing (September 2021), the project is just over half-way to achieving that goal.

However, and as our leaflet shows, not all of the monuments in and around the city centre are blue plaques. If you know where to look, you will find foundation stones, statues, an art gallery and even a water fountain dedicated to the lives of women.

Sometimes, monuments reference women in passing – for example, a foundation stone ‘laid’ by a woman will record the woman’s name even though the foundation stone’s significance is more the building that it is part of. But, by recording the name of the woman who was involved in the ceremony, it preserves for history the role played by a woman on that day.

Watch our video, narrated by Executive Committee member and Dream Time Director Sarah Cobham, on monuments to women below.