Preston icon, Avice Pimblett OBE, who was the city's first female councillor, alderman and mayor, receives blue plaque
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Avice Pimblett OBE was a woman of ‘Preston firsts’, being the first woman town councillor, woman alderman and woman mayor. She also had a major impact on the lives of Prestonians, concerning herself particularly with women and children’s social, educational and welfare issues.
The plaque, commissioned by the Friends of Winckley Square and endorsed by Preston Historical Society, was unveiled at a ceremony on Wednesday November 2 at her former address in Ribblesdale Place, in the Winckley Square quarter. The building is now the offices of leading architecture and design practice FWP.
Preston’s current mayor Councillor Neil Darby carried out the unveiling ceremony, with city and county councillors, members of the historical society, the Friends of Winckley Square group and staff from FWP also attending.
Cllr Darby said: "It is important we remember our history and Avice Pimblett was an important figure in Preston's history.
"This blue plaque recognise her role as our first female mayor as well as all the hard work she did for the women and children of the town, as it was then."
More on Avice’s background:
Friends of Winckley Square member Susan Douglass has carried out extensive research on the life of Avice. Also a Justice of the Peace, she was born in 1879 and lived at the address from 1919 until her death in 1963. During her long career in local politics, she worked hard to promote infant welfare schemes, including a daily morning welfare centre for the under-fives.
The highlight of her mayoral year was a three-day fête on Avenham and Miller parks in aid of a new maternity hospital. It was estimated that the crowd numbered about 60,000 on the third day, so many that food and drink supplies ran out. The fête raised £6,030, a fifth of the cost of the new maternity wing of Preston Royal Infirmary, which Avice laid the foundation stone of in July 1934.
What notable figures say:
Patricia Harrison, who chairs the Friends and is also a member of Preston Historical Society’s committee, said: “I am sure everyone who reads about the life of Avice Pimblett will agree she deserves a blue plaque.
“We have been working with the historical society to address the gender imbalance when it comes to blue plaques dedicated to women in Preston.
“This is not just a Preston issue. In 2018 English Heritage survey found that only 14 per cent of blue plaques commemorated the lives of women. This imbalance is now being addressed throughout the country.”
David Robinson, managing partner of FWP, said: “We are honoured to have the plaque recognising the many achievements of Avice Pimblett on our building and pleased to play our part in making it happen.
“As a Preston business it is great to mark the history of our city and the life of such a special person in such a way.
“Anyone who reads the story of Avice recognises she was a principled and determined women who did so much for its people and achieved so many firsts. She remains an inspiration.”