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Monday, 10 January 2011

Jessie Stephen and Bermondsey

In 1917 Jessie Stephen became the Independent Labour Party organizer for Bermondsey. She worked very closely with Alfred Salter. The anti-war stance of Salter resulted in a loss of support for this left-wing member of the party. Salter wrote: "For a while it seemed as if the whole fabric of our organisation so laboriously built up in the past years, was doomed to go under."

Jessie had developed a good reputation for effective campaigning and Mary Macarthur recruited her to work for the National Federation of Women Workers. In December 1918 Jessie became secretary of its domestic workers' section. The following year she was appointed vice-chair of the catering trade for the new Ministry of Reconstruction. In 1919 she was elected to Bermondsey Borough Council.

Under the leadership of Ada Salter, London's first woman Mayor. As a socialist she declined to wear Mayoral robes or the chain of office. With a Labour majority on the council, Ada could now push on with her plans to improve the look of Bermondsey. A Borough Gardens Superintendent was employed and ordered to plant elms, populars, planes and acacias in the streets of Bermondsey. Later he added birch, ash, yew and wild cherry.

Jessie Stephen also became involved in the campaign to improve public health in Bermondsey. Special films were prepared and were shown to large crowds in the open air and pamphlets were distributed throughout the borough. A systematic house-to-house inspection was conducted to seek out conditions dangerous to health. Premises where food was sold were constantly examined and samples of foods were taken away for analysis.


Acai Lipo said...
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chandra said...

Good to know of Stephen and here work..she stands as a best example for many!

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