Four blue plaques celebrating women, who were born in or are significant to County Durham, have begun to be unveiled.
The scheme, which recognises people of historical importance to County Durham, had previously not featured any women on their plaques.
Those recognised by the new installations include: the Aycliffe Angels, who carried out dangerous munitions work during World War Two; Kate Maxey, a highly decorated nurse from the First World War; Bella Lawson, a pioneer of child welfare clinics in the early 20th century; and Janet Taylor, who set up her own nautical academy and patented a mariner’s calculator in 1834.
One of the groups who campaigned for women’s representation on the blue plaques was the Women’s Banner Group (WBG), a local organisation that “aims to support and celebrate all women in their roles within trade unions, politics and communities, with particular emphasis on recognition for historically important women of the Durham Coalfield who history has forgotten”.
In March 2019, the WBG organised an event with local residents and schools centred around nominating women, who were born in or hold historical significance for County Durham, for a blue plaque.
Those who fitted the Durham County Council blue plaque criteria then took part in a hustings event; the winners were then submitted to the council for consideration.
Wolsingham Women’s Institute was also involved in the process, submitting the nomination for Janet Taylor.
Kate Maxey and Janet Taylor’s plaques have already been revealed – Taylor’s at the Masonic Hall in Wolsingham, and Maxey’s in Clyde Terrace, Spennymoor.
A blue plaque honouring the Aycliffe Angels will be unveiled on the 23rd of October in Newton Aycliffe at ROF 59 – the site of a former Second World War munitions factory.
A plaque celebrating Bella Lawson, and her husband Jack Lawson will be revealed on the 23rd October in Woodside, Beamish.
The installation of the new plaques is also linked to County Durham’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025.
Durham councillor Elizabeth Scott, the Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We are delighted to unveil these blue plaques in honour of some truly amazing groups and individuals whose actions have made a difference not only in their own communities but, in some cases, across the world.
“In County Durham, we have a rich heritage, with historic buildings, ancient sites, world-class museums and beautiful landscapes.
“However, it is our residents and communities that have played the greatest part in shaping the County Durham we know today, and it is their stories and experiences that inspire us.
“We want to channel their resilience, resolution, and innovative spirit in everything we do, especially in County Durham’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025.
“Our communities are at the heart of the bid and we want to maximise the benefits and opportunities this title would bring.”
Image: The Northern Echo