FARNWORTH Library now proudly displays a specially commissioned portrait to a lady the town owes a great deal to.

A portrait of Mary Barnes OBE, the first female councillor for the town, a suffragist and campaigner for the poor, was commissioned thanks to grant money from the government’s ‘Centenary Cities’ fund.

The unveiling on Saturday at the Market Street library was deliberately close to International Women's Day (Friday) and was a proud moment for Carole Crawley who has spent around a decade fighting for recognition for Mary Barnes.

Mrs Crawley, 68, said: "I feel fulfilled in some respects, I feel she's getting the recognition she deserved. I think we should talk about her in schools and restore some pride in the area. She's an incredible legacy for our town."

The Bolton News:

Mrs Crawley first read about Mrs Barnes in a book in that very library and was shocked she had never heard about her.

READ MORE: Pioneer of women's suffrage, Mary Barnes, honoured in Farnworth celebration

Born in Stalybridge, Mary Barnes made Farnworth her home when she married successful cotton manufacturer Harold Alfred Barnes.

Mary used her position to improve housing, health, education, living and working conditions for the people of Farnworth.

In 1922, she became the first female councillor for the town and was a county magistrate for more than 20 years.

The Bolton News:

Mary was also an integral part of the Bolton Women's Citizens Association, formerly called the Bolton Suffrage Society, and acted as their presidents from 1924 until her death in 1942.

Last year a party in Farnworth Park (land donated by the Barnes family) honoured Mrs Barnes achievements and it is hoped it will become a permanent fixture in the Farnworth calendar.

The portrait was painted by artist Keith Robinson who applied for the commission and the background of the photo is filled with imagery and people who were important to Mrs Barnes throughout her life ­— like the ash tree she planted when she was first able to vote.

Mrs Barnes' portrait hangs on the back wall of the library above a display about the Women's Suffrage movement.

The Bolton News:

Mrs Barnes great-granddaughters Jill Clare, 74, and Elizabeth Rose, 74, journeyed from Battle and St Albans respectively to witness the unveiling as did Mrs Rose's daughter Dr Ruth Rose. All three were proud of their ancestor and pleased with the portrait, Mrs Clare said she could see her dad in Mrs Barnes' face.

Dr Rose said: "She belongs to Farnworth and the people who will keep her ambitions alive."