Famous females will be subject of South Shields heritage talk

Dame Catherine Cookson.
Dame Catherine Cookson.

History buffs can find out more about some of the region’s most notable women at a talk in South Shields.

Local writer and historian Yvonne Young will this week explore the lives of famous females at the Wednesday Heritage Club, taking place at 2pm in The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, South Shields Market Place.

Her talk will feature photographs and anecdotes and will cover, among others, actress Flora Robson, who was born in South Shields in 1902. The bronze medal winner at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) was once told she lacked the good looks required for dramatic roles.

Another famous face, engineer and advocate for women’s employment rights, Rachel Parsons passed exams in mechanical science, but could not graduate with a degree because she was a woman.

When the First World War broke out, she replaced her brother as a director on the board of their father’s Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company in Wallsend.

Parsons oversaw the recruitment and training of women to replace the men who had left to join the forces.

She also became a leading member of the National Council of Women and campaigned for equal access to technical schools and colleges for all, regardless of gender.

Visitors to the talk will also hear about suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who hid in a House of Commons broom cupboard on the night of the 1911 census in order to have it recorded that the ‘House’ was her place of residence.

Other well-known women include murderer Mary Ann Cotton, actress Wendy Craig, broadcaster Kate Adie and the borough’s own much-loved author, Dame Catherine Cookson.

Yvonne, who was born and bred in the West End of Newcastle, is a well-known narrator and stage performer, and had great success with her book ‘The Grainger Market: the People’s History’ published in 2015 by Tyne Bridge Publishing.

Tickets for her presentation cost £1.50 each and are available from The Word. Call (0191) 427 1818 for further information.