Durham University (UK) First Female Graduates Blue Plaque Unveiled
A new blue plaque commemorates the first three female graduates from the University in 1898 – Winifred Hindmarch, Mary Gibson and Dora Heslop.
The women were part of The College of St Hild, now part of the College of St Hild and St Bede, where the plaque was unveiled on Saturday (19 November 2022). All three were successful in attaining their degrees and Winifred Hindmarch went on to become a celebrated member of staff at St Hild’s.
The installation of the plaque was instigated by the Women’s Banner Group formed in 2017 with a view to providing a space for women in the historic Durham Miners’ Gala. Its research highlighted many female firsts at Durham, including:
1881 – women admitted to Durham for the first time
1895 – Ella Mary Bryant is the first female graduate to receive a degree, but her matriculation is not allowed
1899 – First all-female college opened
1914 – Kathleen Lambley becomes first female lecturer
1936 – First female PhD awarded to Clara Enid Robinson
1971 – Rosemary Cramp becomes first female Professor and first female Head of Department. Born in 1929 she is still an active emeritus professor in the Department of Archaeology
Also 1971 – first ‘mixed’ college opened
1973 – Durham appoints first female Dean, Mary Holdsworth
1981 – Dame Margot Fonteyn becomes first (and so far only) female Chancellor
2022 – Professor Karen O’Brien appointed first female Vice-Chancellor and Warden
The Women’s Banner Group embarked on a mission in 2018 when they discovered there were no blue plaques commemorating women in County Durham, but over 30 for men and buildings. Thanks to them, today there are now eight blue plaques remembering women, with more to come.
In addition to the unveiling, two St Hild & St Bede students, Courtney Power and Laura Wildgoose, researched the history of the three graduates in the wider context of the women of St Hild’s College. They created information displays on their findings which were launched at the unveiling on 19 November. The College of St Hild & St Bede is planning a further display and exhibition of artifacts associated with St Hild’s College in 2023.