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Labour Party Giant Honoured With Blue Plaque

The first woman organiser of the Labour Party in Wales has been honoured with a Blue Plaque on her former Rhondda home.

Suffragette Elizabeth Andrews has been remembered for her outstanding contribution to the world of politics with the unveiling of the Blue Plaque by Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor Cllr Margaret Davies and guest of honour Glenys Kinnock MEP.

Born in Hirwaun in 1882, Elizabeth Andrews grew up in the Rhondda as the third of 11 children and left school at the age of 12 to help at home. A self-confident individual she joined the suffragette movement in 1904. She was one of three women who gave evidence before the Sankey Commission in 1918 that promised to inquire into wages, hours and conditions in the pits.

eliz-unveilAs soon as women received the vote, the Labour Party appointed four female organisers, of whom Miss Andrews was one. She campaigned tirelessly for health and education services. One of her great successes was the opening of the first nursery school in Wales in the Rhondda in 1938 and she played a key role in pit head baths being installed in collieries.

Outside the former Andrews family home in Bailey Street, Ton Pentre Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf Cllr Margaret Davies said: “Our county borough is rich in history and it is fitting that this scheme recognises people, buildings and events that have shaped the county and in some cases the country itself through the field of arts, culture, sport, politics and industry to name a few.

“It is a fact throughout history that the achievements of people inspire the next generation. The Blue Plaque Scheme helps to raise the profile of such people and of events in our past that live long in the memory for residents and visitors.”

In an emotional speech, Glenys Kinnock paid tribute to the bravery and tenacity of Elizabeth Andrews and said she had tried to adopt some of her principles in her own life.

eliz-photo“One personal motto of Elizabeth Andrews was 'education, aggravation, organisation', something that I’ve tried to emulate when seeking to get things changed,” explained Mrs Kinnock MEP.

“She tried to teach women not to be afraid of freedom at a time when women's voice in politics and life was heard much less frequently. Elizabeth Andrews’s life and work is deserving of such recognition and personally I’ve found her to be inspirational.”

For almost two years the Council’s Libraries & Museums Service has been working closely with organisations and individuals to determine 30 sites in the county borough where Blue Plaques should be placed. The scheme received £49,200 of Heritage Lottery funding.

More than 180 nominations were received and with so many historical buildings and events from colliery strikes, riots and even pioneering cremations in the county borough’s history, coupled with being the birthplace of a vast array of celebrities from the worlds of music, sport, cinema, literature and the political arena, the decisions were taken after a lengthy consultation process.

For further details on the Blue Plaque scheme visit www.rhondda-cynon-taf.gov.uk/heritagetrail

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