Minnie Allen



Minnie Allen (Credit: Gloucestershire Archives)

Minnie Allen (née Ash) was born in 1885 in Bishops Cleeve, the daughter of an agricultural labourer. She married Hubert Allen, a railway fireman, in 1908 and had two children. In March 1925, she was elected as a Labour County Councillor for St Peters, a working-class ward in Cheltenham. Consequently, she became the first woman to be elected to Gloucestershire the County Council.[1]

A condition of Hubert’s job on the railways was that he could be required to move to other districts. As a result, the family moved to Lydney at the end of 1925. Minnie soon became active in the local Labour Party and community politics and worked hard to represent the interests of the poorer sections of her community. In November 1925, she attended a meeting of the Gloucestershire Labour Women’s Advisory Council where she backed a motion to introduce funding from the County Council for feeding children, “particularly in the Forest of Dean area where distress is great owing to unemployment”.[2]

Minnie and Hubert standing at the centre of the back row (Credit: Ancestry)

On 1 May, within a few months of Minnie’s arrival in Lydney, the Trade Union Council called a national general strike in support of the miners who were locked out because they refused to accept a pay cut and an increase in hours. Tin plate workers and railway workers, including Hubert, joined the strike along with other Lydney workers in solidarity. On Thursday 6 May, at a packed meeting at Lydney Picture House, Minnie moved a resolution that assured the Trade Union Congress and the miners that they had the full support of workers in Lydney.[3]

In July 1926, Minnie was appointed as a Labour Representative on the Board of Governors of Lydney Secondary School.[4] In March 1928, she was appointed as an alderman on Gloucestershire County Council where she sat on committees dealing with health, child welfare, education and agriculture. She fought for hard better public services, often having to argue with men who had little understanding of the issues impacting women and children. In April 1928, she was elected as a joint Vice President of the Forest of Dean Labour Party.[5]

At some point before 1939, the family had to move again because Hubert’s job required him to move to Ross which was  just over the county border in Herefordshire. However, Minnie remained as an alderman with Gloucestershire County Council for 33 years. At her farewell speech in March 1958, a year before she died, Minnie remembered how she had to travel around the Forest assessing the needs of young mothers for help with milk and other support.

On one occasion I was asked if I would go out to St Briavels and interview a mother there. I went out on a baker’s cart which started early in the morning. I found the mother and then came back on the baker’s car to Lydney where I was living at the time.[6]

[1] Gloucester Journal 14 March 1925.

[2] Gloucester Citizen 9 November 1925.

[3] Dean Forest Mercury 7 May 1926.

[4] Gloucester Citizen 26 July 1926.

[5] Dean Forest Mercury 4 May 1928.

[6] Gloucester Citizen 1 April 1958.


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