Hunger march grandmother and trailblazer for females among those who feature in new guided walk at Burnley Cemetery to celebrate International Women's Day

A temperance campaigner, a  hunger march grandmother, the Sisters of Mercy nuns and a trailblazer for women in public life all feature in a guided walk leaflet that has been produced by the Friends of Burnley Cemeteries.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 7:00 am

The Friends group put the leaflet together to celebrate International Women's Day next Monday (March 8th) as it is unable to organise a guided walk due to covid restrictions.

The pamphlet includes details of the route and information about the women featured and is vailable to download for people to walk the route, keeping safe distances.

Detailed research has produced some fascinating stories about the lives of several women from Burnley.

Lizzie Hedges, who was a trailblazer for women in public office, features in a Burnley Cemetery guided walk to mark International Women's Day

Among them is Mary Lizzie Hedges who was seen as a trailblazer for women in public office.

A well-known personality in Burnley social and political life for over 40 years until her death in 1942, Mary was elected to the Burnley Board of Guardians in 1904, and became its first woman chairman in 1924, when she was also appointed magistrate for the borough.

She was also a member and former chairman of the Central Lancashire Association for Mental Welfare. Other societies which she served were the Burnley and District after-care committee, the Burnley Nursing Association and the Burnley Distress Committee. She was also connected with the National Insurance Committee and during the Great War she was a tireless worker for the Red Cross.

Walkers can also visit the grave of Harriet Paisley, the grandmother who was one of the first women to take part in the hunger marches of the Great Depression in 1932.

At the age of 62 the mother of 16 was among a group who walked from Burnley to London to protest about the Means Test and 1931 Anomalies Bill which restricted the right of married women to claim unemployment benefit. Attracting widespread newspaper coverage Harriet, who was the oldest of the group, became the story as she made speeches along the route.

Burnley Cemetery is also the final resting place for Caroline Smith, a dedicated temperance advocate who died in 1931 at the age of 85. She was vice-president of the British Women’s Temperance Association for 30 years and was Burnley representative at the British Temperance League for many years.

A probation officer for women at the Burnley Borough police courts and was said to be one of the most forceful and convincing temperance lecturers, particularly in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The leaflet also has details about the life and work of Margaret Alexander who was matron of the Victoria Hospital from 1921 until her death at the age of 51 in 1933.

Sent to France as a member of the Civil Hospital Reserve, serving until 1919 and holding several posts, Miss Alexander was mentioned three times in despatches and awarded the Royal Red Cross in June 1916 and 1919 and later awarded a bar to the cross. The French Government presented her with a Médaille de Honneur des Epidémies Argent (Silver medal of Honour for Epidemics) for her work in in Auberchicourt in Northern France with 23rd casualty clearing station, where 67 men died of flu in November 1918.

The leaflet also has details of the graves of the three nuns who founded the Sisters of Mercy convent in Burnley, along with 114 other sisters.