Ethel Fennings and Mary Pearson have become the first two women ever to be commemorated on blue plaques in Croydon.
Two new blue plaques were unveiled in Croydon on October 21 to commemorate Fennings, a suffragist, and Pearson, a suffragette.
The two new plaques were added at 251-253 Selhurst Road as the two women were known to protest for women’s suffrage around the nearby South Norwood Clocktower.
The suffragists and suffragettes were active at the same time in the fight for women’s voting rights. The suffragists were exclusively peaceful, whereas the suffragettes believed in using direct action.
The plaque for Fennings reads: “Lived at 149 Croydon Road, Anerley with her like-minded mother & sisters, northeast of our Clocktower – from the plinth of which on Friday evenings she would advocate the just cause of ‘Votes for Women’.”
Pearson’s plaque reads: “Lived to the southwest of our Clocktower at 57 Selhurst Road, Croydon. She was active in the Women’s Freedom League, her militancy in the support of Female Suffrage was to result in imprisonment in 1908.”
There are around a thousand of the famed English Heritage-run Blue Plaques around London, commemorating the contributions of people who lived in those buildings. This week’s additions ups the number of plaques in Croydon to 13.
Sarah Jones, MP for Croydon Central and the first female MP in Croydon’s history, attended the ceremony and unveiled the two plaques.
She posted on X: “In the early 20th century, Ethel Fennings and Mary Pearson campaigned in South Norwood for a woman’s right to vote. As Croydon’s first female MP, it was an honour to unveil plaques commemorating their contribution to our town. I hope to continue their fight for equality for all.”
The ceremony was organised by local community group We Love SE25, in partnership with the People for Portland Road and Stanley Arts groups.
Labour councillor Amy Foster, also a chair of We Love SE25, posted on X: “It is an honour to join these community groups for the unveiling of the first women’s history plaques in Croydon. A chance to give thanks to Mary & Ethel and renew our commitment to equality for all.”