Preston icon, Avice Pimblett OBE, who was the city's first female councillor, alderman and mayor, receives blue plaque

A Preston historical icon, who was a a pioneer of women in civic life, and campaigner on the needs of women and children, has been recognised at her former home in the city centre with a blue plaque marking her achievements.
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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 ceremony:

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.

The Mayor of Preston Neil Derby unveils the blue plaque  for Avice Margaret Pimblett OBE. Photo: Kelvin StuttardThe Mayor of Preston Neil Derby unveils the blue plaque  for Avice Margaret Pimblett OBE. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
The Mayor of Preston Neil Derby unveils the blue plaque for Avice Margaret Pimblett OBE. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
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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."

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Left: The Mayor of Preston Neil Derby with Patricia Harrison, Chair of Friends of Winckley Square, and right, with Tracey Whalley, Abbie Summers and Hayley Sutton from FWP.Left: The Mayor of Preston Neil Derby with Patricia Harrison, Chair of Friends of Winckley Square, and right, with Tracey Whalley, Abbie Summers and Hayley Sutton from FWP.
Left: The Mayor of Preston Neil Derby with Patricia Harrison, Chair of Friends of Winckley Square, and right, with Tracey Whalley, Abbie Summers and Hayley Sutton from FWP.

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.

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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:

Pictured here as a past mayor and current Alderman, Avice Margaret Pimblett in November 1946 with the outgoing mayor, incoming mayor and Town Clerk.Pictured here as a past mayor and current Alderman, Avice Margaret Pimblett in November 1946 with the outgoing mayor, incoming mayor and Town Clerk.
Pictured here as a past mayor and current Alderman, Avice Margaret Pimblett in November 1946 with the outgoing mayor, incoming mayor and Town Clerk.

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.”

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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.

Speeches at the unveiling of the blue plaque were listened to by the crowd of attendees.Speeches at the unveiling of the blue plaque were listened to by the crowd of attendees.
Speeches at the unveiling of the blue plaque were listened to by the crowd of attendees.

“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.”

Preston’s blue plaque scheme celebrates the links between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked, others in the city honour people such as the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward (Bonnie Prince Charlie), Benjamin Franklin and suffragette, Edith Rigby.

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