The Power of Local Politics

Bolton Suffragist: Mary Barnes 1864 - 1942

Mary Barnes was the first female councillor in Farnworth. She worked hard to improve housing, health, education and working conditions of the people of Farnworth, Bolton and campaigned for women’s suffrage.

In 1917, she joined the Bolton Suffrage Society that later became the Women’s Citizens Association and was vice-chair from 1919-1924 and then president from 1924 until her death in 1942. She was also president of the Farnworth Branch, National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society and president of Farnworth & Kearsley Women’s Citizens Association from 1913 onwards and a member of the Women’s Local Government Association (WLGA). As a member of many committees, she instigated and encouraged positive changes to maternity, childcare, housing, pensions and education.

A plaque bearing Mary Barnes’ name was unveiled in Farnworth park marking 100 years since some women were given the vote in 1918. Her portrait is displayed in Farnworth library thanks to grant money from the government’s ‘Centenary Cities’ fund.

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