Another blue plaque for the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project

Forgotten Women of Wakefield

Ann Clarkson, who lived in the town in the 19th century, has dedicated her life to supporting the sick and the poor in their homes, raising funds for the town’s House of Recovery, and advocating for animal rights in and around from the city.

On several occasions, she was known to buy trapped birds from street urchins and pay the boys pennies for each half-drowned kitten they helped rescue. In 1869, after years of work, she managed to convince nine other women to sign a document calling for the establishment of an official branch of the RSPCA in Wakefield.

Ann has also played an important role in educating young women, serving as school treasurer and teacher at Westgate Unitarian Chapel for over 30 years.

Trying to reach the parity of the blue plate

Her incredible story was uncovered by the Forgotten Women of Wakefield, a grassroots organization dedicated to uncovering the stories of the historic women who helped shape the city.

Sarah Cobham, who founded Dream Time Creative, the company behind the project, said Ann’s work seemed even more poignant in light of the pandemic.

She said: “Ann had a huge impact on me during the lockdown. Her ability to keep doing what she thinks is right despite being seen as an outsider and being ridiculed reminded me to keep a clear vision and act on it despite what have often been seen as challenges. insurmountable in the past 16 months.

“Ann was great in her actions to educate people about animal welfare, but her kindness and hard work underpinned everything she did and these qualities are admirable and inspiring.”

On the set of Clara.

In the summer of 1888, just four months before Ann’s death, a fountain and watering trough were dedicated to her and installed outside the family home at the bottom of Westgate.

Funds for the fountain were raised through public subscription and donations from RSPCA members.

The fountain was moved to several sites, before being placed on Denby Dale Road, near Clarence Park, in the 1970s.

Much of Ann’s story was discovered by the team through the diaries of her cousin Clara Clarkson, who was also honored with a blue plaque, and a television pilot recounting her life.

In an entry in her diary, Clara wrote: “All her life Ann has intervened when she has seen someone be cruel to animals and people to rely on her.

Ann’s blue plaque will be unveiled at an official ceremony in November, but in the meantime, the FWW team have been working to create a series of photos depicting her life, as recounted in Clara’s diaries.

Sarah said: “I think people think here at Dream Time Creative that all of our projects are funded, and they absolutely aren’t.

“The majority of the forgotten women of Wakefield have contacted us from the past and show up over and over again until we have no choice but to tell their stories, with or without funding.

“I am grateful to the team of volunteers, researchers, local historians and actors who devoted their time and passion to this project and to Westgate Chapel for allowing us to enter and use the chapel. as a backdrop for our photoshoot.

“It was such a fun day and we made some very special memories by creating a series of paintings from Ann’s life.”

The new plaques were organized by the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project, supported by Wakefield Express, which wants to see parity of blue plaques for men and women.

Founded in 2018, the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project aims to uncover the stories of remarkable women who have helped shape the city’s history.

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