Faithful+Gould supports 100 years of women in parliament

Claire Turnbull
It has been 100 years since Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the Houses of Parliament on 28th November 1919. To mark this historic anniversary, a statue has been unveiled in her honour on Plymouth Hoe by Teresa May, the second female prime minister.

The Faithful+Gould Exeter office supported the campaign by contributing to the fund which has reached over £130,000. The statue features a plaque of key supporters including Faithful+Gould, Great Western Railway, Plymouth City Council, the Plymouth Astor Trust and various local education establishments.

As key leaders of diversity in construction, Faithful+Gould has supported the campaign to highlight the outstanding life and work of Nancy Astor, with an aim to encourage young women of the next generation to become involved in politics and construction alike. The Faithful+Gould South-West and Wales offices have strong connections with Plymouth and are involved in the development and delivery stages of many projects across the City.

Chris Haines, South-West and Wales Operations Director commented, “supporting the Nancy Astor campaign is of the utmost importance to Faithful+Gould. Not only does it symbolise the development of cultural diversity and inclusion, but the campaign shines a light on the forward-thinking and prosperous city that Plymouth is. Our projects at Millbay, Sugar Quay, Harbour Arch Quay and Plymouth University, shows our commitment to supporting the city and community. We are delighted that our project delivery teams are hugely diverse and include  experienced and knowledgeable females in key leadership roles”

Voted in by the people of Plymouth, one year after some women were finally given the vote, Nancy faced strong objection to her presence in a highly male dominated environment. Among those keen to remove her were Arthur Balfour, Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. She represents how far various industries, including construction, have come to recognise womens contribution to our society.

© The Box Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives

Alexis Bowater, Nancy Astor Campaign Lead, explains, “she changed everything for women, being the first to tread the corridors of power as a Member of Parliament. And she did so in the face of great hostility. For two years she represented women in the House of Commons alone – she wasn’t joined by another female MP until then. She went through a door both literally and metaphorically that she, and we, can’t go back through and paved the way for the fairer, freer and more equal democracy that we enjoy today.”

The unveiling ceremony included a daylong of celebrations. Starting in London Paddington, the Great Western Rail train named after Nancy carried the Astor family, members of the House of Commons and House of Lords to Plymouth. Local schools and others in the community walked through the Hoe, upon the arrival of the Nancy Astor Express, to the unveiling ceremony where they were met by 90-strong American Marching Band, a nod to Nancy’s Virginian roots. 

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