BOLTON has been chosen as a town to celebrate the centenary of votes for women in 2018

The town, which had a very active Suffragette movement, included women such as A.H. (Mary) Barnes.

It has been awarded a share of £1.2 million to fund celebrations in seven areas which also include Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Nottingham.

Bolton will host a range of exciting projects to celebrate as well as remembering those individuals who helped to make this happen.

Although not fully confirmed, plans include a Celebration of Women event in Farnworth Park, when a plaque will be unveiled to Mrs Barnes, a women’s band will perform and there will be a storytelling competition for children.

Mrs Barnes, nee Gwyther, was born in 1866, married Harold Alfred Barnes, who was part of a noted Farnworth family of cotton mill owners.

He died in 1941 and she died in hospital in February, 1942.

The Bolton Journal of April 4, 1913, was printing a series, which included Mrs Barnes where they delved into her social work with the community with The Bolton Guild.

The story reported that the guild in Farnworth had been able to hand out funds during a recent coal strike and it was Mrs Barnes who questioned what the best way to take care of people living in poverty was.

She was quoted in the Journal as saying: "The amount of preventable poverty and the bad conditions under which so many people live. It all went to prove how money was not always the best means of helping people but that personal service and sympathetic care might do much more good."

The article details a number of committees she sat on which included president of the Farnworth branch of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies which the column writer describes as 'non militant and non party'.

During the First World War, she formed what was known as the 'Tipperary Club' in Farnworth, which met twice a week and had 900 members who did sewing and sending out parcels to the men on the Front

Shortly before her 70th birthday , in 1934 it was noted she was the first woman member for Farnworth for the former Board of Guardians, which she served for 25 years.

A report of her death in the Bolton Journal reports that she was both a JP and had been accorded an OBE and said she 'probably was the most prominent public woman in the town'.

Cllr Ebrahim Adia, executive cabinet member for regeneration and resources said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant from the Women’s Suffrage Centenary Fund.

"The grant will enable us to celebrate the achievements of local suffragette Mary Elizabeth Barnes through a series of local events and community engagement as well as reminding us all just how important women gaining the vote was.”

The ‘Centenary Cities’ programme forms part of the government’s wider plans to promote this pivotal moment in history, including the addition of the first female statue in Parliament Square - Millicent Fawcett - due to be unveiled in 2018.

Minister for Women and Equalities Anne Milton said: “A huge congratulations to Bolton, one of our ‘Centenary Cities’ that have been recognised for their proud connection to the suffrage movement.

“Less than 100 years ago, women could not vote and could not stand as candidates for Parliament. By remembering and celebrating those individuals who fought to get the right to vote we are continuing to push for all our political institutions to reflect women’s representation in society.

The Government is allocating the rest of the £5 million Women’s Centenary Fund to a grants scheme for local and community projects, which launched on 7th December a statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, and other activities, to be announced in due course.