Artwork will celebrate political pioneer

RATHBONE Eleanor 2The life and legacy of one of Liverpool’s greatest political figures is to be celebrated in a public artwork.

Eleanor Rathbone was a tireless campaigner for women’s rights and education, and for social justice.

This year is the 70th anniversary of her death and in a significant contribution  to the national “Remembering Eleanor Rathbone” campaign , Liverpool City Council intends to  commission an artwork which will be located in the walled garden of Greenbank Park(pictured above), formerly the estate of the Rathbone family.

Artists are being invited to express an interest in this commission and it is hoped to appoint the successful one by the beginning of March with the artwork being in place by the end of the year.

The artwork will cost about £10,000 and it is envisaged  funding  will be met by a number of sources including public subscription.

Eleanor Rathbone (1872-46) was born in Greenbank House, now part of the Liverpool University estate, into a family with a tradition of political and social campaigning in the city.   Her father and grandfather were Liberal MPs in the city.

Eleanor attended Oxford University but, as a woman, was not allowed to graduate. She was the first woman to be elected to the city council and represented Granby  from 1909 to 1934. In 1929 she was elected as an independent MP for the Combined Universities seat, a position she held until her death.

She was associated with many campaigns for women’s rights and education, and for social justice. She campaigned against child marriage and FGM in the colonies, and later worked tirelessly to save Jewish and other refugees in Europe.

 Most notably, despite the opposition of many male MPs, she was responsible for the introduction of family allowances (now child benefit) to be paid directly to mothers.

Greenbank Councillor Laura Robertson- Collins said: “As an independent councillor and later as an independent MP, Eleanor has lacked a political party to champion her. We are proud of this campaigning Greenbank resident, and are delighted to commemorate 70 years since her death by commissioning an artwork in the park that was once part of her family’s estate.”


Information about the commission is available at:

• An exhibition about Eleanor Rathbone is on display at the Central Library until the end of March. .


Liverpool Waterfront