8 March is International Women’s Day
and to help celebrate, we are highlighting objects in the Museum of Liverpool’s collections
which help to tell the story of some amazing Liverpool women.
The first is this painting of Margaret Beavan - Liverpool’s First Woman Lord Mayor and Children’s Champion. It was painted by John Archibald Alexander Berrie, and shows Margaret at a dinner at the Lyceum Club, Bold Street, 19 December 1927, held in her honour. A footman can be seen in the background and Liverpool worthies and their wives sit either side of her. Significantly, this was the first occasion on which ladies were entertained within the gentleman’s club.
Margaret was born in Liverpool in 1877. She briefly lived in America, studied maths at Royal Holloway, London, assisted at a boys’ school and became involved in the Invalid Child Association. In 1909 she was elected as Councillor for Princes Park. Margaret worked tirelessly to improve child care. Following the 1918 Maternity and Child Welfare Act which made councils responsible for infants, she organised the Child Welfare Association.
Margaret’s child welfare expertise saw her become one of Liverpool’s first women magistrates. She became Liverpool’s first woman Lord Mayor in 1927. After serving as Lord Mayor, she stood unsuccessfully in the 1929 general election.
Her work for children had a national impact and when she died in 1931, Liverpudlians lined the streets to watch the funeral procession of ‘the little mother of Liverpool’.
Margaret Beavan is featured on the ‘People in Politics’ computer interactive in The People’s Republic
gallery, Museum of Liverpool
The painting is not currently on display.