National women’s history award for Friends of Winckley Square

Posted on - 24th June, 2021 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Winckley Square
Minnie, one of the extraordinary women to star in the guided walks
Minnie, one of the extraordinary women to star in Friends of Winckley Square’s guided walks

Friends of Winckley Square (FoWS) has been recognised by the Women’s History Network (WHN), a national association and charity for the promotion of women’s history.


The FoWS project The Extraordinary Women of Winckley Square received a Highly Commended award in the WHN’s annual prize for Community History.

Prior to the project – which was inspired by the centenary of women getting the vote in 1918 – the published history of Winckley Square had featured relatively few women. The project aimed to redress that imbalance by exploring the history of both well known women and some who had slipped under the radar.

One such well known woman was Frances Winckley, who as Lady Shelley rode alongside the Duke of Wellington as he reviewed the troops in Paris after the Battle of Waterloo.

Two former headmistresses of the Preston High School for Girls also featured. Alice Stephenson and Alice Stoneman could not be awarded their degrees from Oxbridge because they were women. However, an arrangement between Dublin, Oxford and Cambridge allowed eligible Oxbridge course completers to be granted Trinity Dublin degrees. Only Trinity applied this rule to women as well as men. The two women were among hundreds of others who travelled by steamboat to Dublin to collect their degrees and were known as Steamboat Ladies.

The Steamboat Ladies at their graduation Pic: Somerville College
The Steamboat Ladies at their graduation Pic: Somerville College

Those less well known included widows who managed estates, local teachers, governesses and nuns. The suffragettes and suffragists who were active in the fight for votes were also highlighted. 

The project was wide ranging and consisted of articles, guided walks, illustrated talks, drama, exhibitions, radio and TV interviews. As with other FoWS projects, it aimed to link the lives of the women connected with the Square to national and international history.

Read more: Meet Jane, Henrietta, Louisa, Alice, Alice and Dorothy – the trailblazing women who had a special impact on Preston

Patricia Harrison, the Chair of FoWS, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be recognised in the WHN awards. Many of our members put in tremendous time and effort to make this happen.

“We had a wonderful response to the project pre-pandemic from local people, but it’s also great to have national recognition from a highly regarded national body such as the Women’s History Network.

“Now we are approaching the lifting of restrictions we will be embarking on new developments and welcome interest from anyone who might like to get involved with our work.”

To find out more, contact Patricia through the FoWS Facebook page.

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