‘Most important’ woman in Wigan’s history: Plaque recognises contribution from town’s first ever female councillor

By Matt Scrafton

One of Britain’s first female councillors will be remembered with the unveiling of a plaque in Wigan today.

Martha Hogg was elected in 1920, becoming Wigan’s first ever female councillor and one of only a handful of women councillors in Britain.

The plaque will be presented by the Mayor of Wigan Borough Councillor Myra Whiteside at Wigan Town Hall.

She said: “Martha Hogg was a true trail-blazer for the women of Wigan.

“It’s clear she had a deep social conscience and a strong commitment to helping the poor and that’s what drove her pioneering political career.”

Martha was a midwife, working in the poverty-stricken communities of industrial Wigan, and became involved in politics after witnessing the terrible conditions the poor had to live in.

She joined the Labour Party, standing first in 1919 and then successfully in 1920, then playing an active role on the council serving on a number of committees.

Cllr Whiteside added: “It’s a matter of regret it has taken so long for her to get the recognition she so richly deserves. But at least now there will be a fitting tribute to her.”

Among those attending the unveiling will be Martha’s great-grandson, as well as an 84-year-old man she delivered while working as a midwife.

The campaign to recognise Martha’s contribution is the work of local history enthusiast Tom Walsh, who says it’s important to keep her memory alive.

“I’m delighted the council has agreed to place a plaque in the chamber dedicated to Martha,” he said.

“She is one of the most significant women in Wigan’s history and is arguably of national importance.”

There were very few women involved in politics when she was elected, with most MPs coming from the aristocracy.

In fact, all women over the age of 21 didn’t receive the vote until the Representation of the People Act in 1928.

Mr Walsh added: “When she died, Wigan came to a standstill to recognise her contribution. Yet there has been no lasting memorial to her.

“It’s fantastic this is now being put right.”

Image courtesy of Wigan Archive Services – WLMT – via YouTube, with thanks.

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