City’s first female councillor honoured on International Women’s Day

Published: Thursday, 8th March 2018

Birmingham’s first female councillor was honoured today (8 March) by having a room at the Council House dedicated in her name.

Leader Cllr Ian Ward and Deputy Leader Brigid Jones with Theresa Stewart and Randal Keynes.

Ellen Pinsent was elected as a Liberal Unionist councillor for Edgbaston on 1 November 1911, a ward she served for two years, during which she chaired the council’s Special School Sub-Committee.

Honorary Alderman Theresa Stewart, the city’s first female Leader (1993-99), unveiled the Ellen Pinsent Room (formerly Committee Room 1), watched by Dame Ellen’s great-grandson Randal Keynes plus staff and children from Dame Ellen Pinsent School in Kings Heath.

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “It’s fitting that we are honouring the first female elected councillor in Birmingham on International Women’s Day – and that the ceremony was overseen by her family and the city’s first female Leader.

“The Ellen Pinsent Room will be a place where the city’s notable women – and their achievements – can be rightly recognised.”

Alongside Dame Ellen’s pictures, there are portraits of Suffragist Catherine Osler, President of the Birmingham Women’s Suffrage Society, and Louisa Ryland, who donated much of Birmingham’s parklands to its citizens, alongside photos of female councillors and Lord Mayors taken in February, to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918.

Mr Keynes, who is a conservationist and author, said: “I’m so pleased to see this room renamed as the Ellen Pinsent Room, after my great grandmother. She was passionate about her work for the people of Birmingham as a councillor, and from her teens she felt a passion about women taking their part in the management of Government’s social issues and tackling them.

“I think she would’ve been very pleased that it’s part of the celebration of the 100 years since the vote for women. Certainly, she would have been so grateful to be remembered in this way on International Women’s Day."

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