Pendle suffragist Selina Cooper to be celebrated in historic Nelson building

Selina Cooper
Selina Cooper

The life and achievements of Nelson suffragist and socialist Selina Cooper will be celebrated at a historic building in the town.

The heritage project, funded by a £50,000 National Lottery Heritage grant, will also highlight the history relating to the Unity Wellbeing Centre in Nelson which was for many years a centre for the Independent Labour Party.

It will include the installation of four replica stained glass windows to replace the originals which were removed at a time when the building had fallen into a state of disrepair, as well as major artwork designed to celebrate the life of Selina Cooper.

Selina Cooper was an English suffragist and the first woman to represent the Independent Labour Party in 1901 when she was elected as a Poor Law Guardian.

In 1901, Cooper was elected to the Board of Guardians, as a joint SDF-ILP candidate. However, she became frustrated with the SDF's lack of interest in the suffrage movement, and moved away from the party, becoming a full-time organiser for the suffrage movement.

In 1910 she was chosen to be one of four women to present the case for women's suffrage to H. H. Asquith, the then Prime Minister.

The work at the Unity Centre will also include restoring and dispalying existing heritage material which has been donated with the help of Gary and Kevin Webb.

Nelson Town Council chairman Coun. Zafar Ali said: "The town council has worked extremely hard with the support of Gary Webb and Kevin Webb to secure this grant for such a historical cause. The heritage connection with the ILP and suffragist movement with the Unity Wellbeing Centre will be invaluable for the community.

"We want to the thank the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund along with Gary and Kevin for their support and for having confidence in us in delivering this key project.”

Coun. George Adam, who is the chairman of the management committee which oversees the Unity Wellbeing Centre, said: “This is an exciting development for us as a town council as we expect there to be lots of visitors to the centre once the official launch takes place.

"We have had lots of interest from the local schools, colleges and University of Central Lancashire and we cannot wait to get things up and running.”

A part time post of educational facilitator has been created to work with students from UCLan, local Further Education colleges, secondary and primary schools as well as community groups who will all play an important part in bringing Nelson’s history and heritage back to life at the centre.