Statue to honour Newport suffragette moves to planning stage

Plans to install a statue honouring a Newport suffragette have moved a step closer.

Margaret Haig Thomas, known as Lady Rhondda, grew up in Llanwern, and went on to play a prominent role in the campaign in Newport for women’s rights.

As part of her campaigning, she took part in protests with leading suffragettes the Pankhursts, reportedly jumped on the car of prime minister Herbert Asquith, and was imprisoned for trying to set a post box on fire.

Lady Rhondda, who also led efforts to involve women in the British war effort during World War I, was a successful businesswoman and magazine editor, and campaigned for decades for female peers to sit in the House of Lords.

Those achievements led to a local campaign to erect a statue in her honour, initially as part of a Wales-wide competition, which led to members of the public voting for a sculpture of pioneering teacher Betty Campbell being installed in central Cardiff.

Despite being unsuccessful in that contest, the campaign for a statue of Lady Rhondda continued to gather momentum, and in 2022 sculptor Jane Robbins was commissioned to produce the artwork.

Now, following the statue’s completion, the campaigners have applied for planning permission to install it at the eastern side of the Millennium Footbridge, which spans the River Usk in central Newport.

Cast in bronze, the statue and its plinth reportedly stands eight feet tall (243cm) and the finished artwork, when installed, will include a “descriptive text etched into existing” paving.

The application is currently out for consultation, and can be viewed on the Newport City Council website under reference 24/0331.

Story by Nicholas Thomas, LDRS Reporter


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