Grandson says first woman councillor deserves Gainsborough street name

Florence Spicksley, seen here with  former constituency MP Viscount Crookshank, was the first woman elected to Gainsborough Urban District Council. Her grandson Philip is hoping to see her pioneering achievements recognised with a permanent tribute from West Lindsey District Council.
Florence Spicksley, seen here with former constituency MP Viscount Crookshank, was the first woman elected to Gainsborough Urban District Council. Her grandson Philip is hoping to see her pioneering achievements recognised with a permanent tribute from West Lindsey District Council.

The grandson of the first woman elected to public office in Gainsborough is hoping to see her memory honoured as part of the centenary celebration for women’s suffrage.

Philip Spicksley, 59, thinks grandmother Florence Spicksley deserves permanent recognition for her place in history as the first woman elected to the Gainsborough Unitary District Council in 1931, and later the first to chair the council.

He said: “In the year that the country is acknowledging women and their political achievements, I have written to West Lindsey District Council asking if they will acknowledge her role.

“There have been a number of roads in Gainsborough named after male councillors but, to my knowledge, never after a female one.”

Philip, who grew up in Gainsborough and now lives in Humberside, never knew Florence as she died in the 1950s, but her story has been passed on through the family.

He said: “At the first meeting the men refused to allocate her to a committee. She dug her heels in, and refused to leave until late in the night when they eventually agreed.

“She went on to take a leading role in the housing committee which oversaw rebuilding after the war, as well as chairing health and care committees.”

He added: “Florence’s husband died when my father was six and left her with four butchers’ shops to run, but she chose to concentrate on council business.”

Florence was also a close confidant of Viscount Crookshank, the MP for Gainsborough between 1924 and 1956, who served as health minister under Winston Churchill.

Philip said: “She would act as his eyes and ears in the constituency, and every Friday when he returned from Parliament, his first stop would be at Florence’s house.”

A spokesman for West Lindsey council said: “It sounds like a lovely idea, but street naming has to go through a parish council first, perhaps if any new builds are looking for a street name they can keep this in mind.

“A developer proposes names to the parish council, or the parish council propose new names, and once this has been chosen and approved by both parties it then comes to us.”