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Blue Plaque Campaign Launched For Hove’s Pioneering Political Heroine

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A campaign to secure a commemorative blue plaque in Hove for the political pioneer Margaret Bondfield has been launched by Labour’s Peter Kyle.

Peter, Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Hove & Portslade, was joined by Jacqui Smith, the country’s first female Home Secretary, and other female activists to kick off the campaign.

Margaret Bondfield is one of the most important figures in women’s political history - in the 1920s she became one of Labour’s first female MPs and in 1929 she became the country’s first female cabinet minister.

But the role Hove played in her early political career has been overlooked by many and the location where the seeds of Margaret’s politics and feminism were sown has been a secret until now.

Out of an ordinary shop sprung an extraordinary story and I want that story to continue today by inspiring other young people to believe in themselves," Peter Kyle

Margaret left home aged 14 to serve an apprenticeship at a drapers shop in Hove and it was here she became friendly with one of her customers, Louisa Martindale, a strong advocate of women's rights.

Louisa introduced Bondfield to other radicals and books which were an important influence on her political development.

When Peter Kyle heard the story he tried to locate the shop. Local records, historians and experts were consulted but the only information available was that the owner of the shop was called Mrs White and that the store was on Church Road.

Nine months later it was a local party member, John Warmington, who found a Mrs White, ladies’ outfitter, recorded at 14 Church Road in a street directory for 1888.

In 2014 the shop is still there at number 14 – except it is a Londis convenience store.

Peter Kyle said: "Out of an ordinary shop on a Victorian high street sprung an extraordinary story and I want that story to continue today by inspiring other young people to believe in themselves.

“So lets mark this place with a commemorative blue plaque. I will submit our case to the council committee that makes a decision.

“If in the future another young person pops into Londis with their parents and notices the plaque then they too could realise that extraordinary things come from ordinary places and people.

“If just one youngster finds inspiration from Margaret’s life as a result then surely it will make this campaign very worthwhile indeed.”

Find out more and show your support for the campaign at: https://www.facebook.com/hoveandportslade

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