On Friday 11th May our Manager, Sue White, attended the unveiling of a plaque at 103 Norman Street, Birkenhead. This was the former home of the town’s first woman Mayor Mary Ann Mercer.
The plaque was unveiled by the then Mayor Councillor Ann McLachlan and funded by Wirral council’s heritage fund.
Originally from Shropshire, Mary’s father died when she was only 3 yrs old and her mother’s struggles played a key role in forming her political views.
In later life Mary would be vocal and passionate advocate for state pensions for women.
Mary trained as a nurse but left the profession for many years to work in Belfast as a district visitor for the Dean.
She met and married a Labour activist in 1912 and they moved to Birkenhead in 1914 where they joined the local Labour party.
Mary was subsequently elected as Labour counsellor for Argyle ward in 1919. Which she continued to represent until 1945. She became the first woman to be elected as an alderman of the council, a position she held from 1926-1932.
It was in 1924 that Mary Ann Mercer became Birkenhead’s first female Mayor.
As Mayor she unveiled the Cenotaph in Hamilton square in 1925 in front of thousands of people, including the Generals from the First World War, and she held lots of events in Birkenhead Town Hall for children, ensuring they were fed.
In 1935 she stood for Parliament and contested the Liberal –held Birkenhead East division, but was defeated.
She was truly a remarkable lady in a time when woman where often classed as second class citizens and their views and suggestions went unheard.
Mary died on September 26th 1945 and Mercer Road in Bidston & St. James ward is named after her. She was buried at Flaybrick Cemetery – where the epitaph on her grave says:
“First woman Mayor and first socialist Mayor 1924-1925 deeply mourned by her children and towns people”