East End heritage talk on Dorothea Benoly, first woman mayor of Bethnal Green
PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 March 2017
A heritage talk is being given about a very independent woman who became the first female Mayor of Bethnal Green, in London’s East End.
Dorothea Benoly took up her Town Hall 12-month office in 1933, at the height of the Depression.
The talk is being given at the Tower Hamlets Archive Library today with a display of her diaries and a scrapbook of photos, invitations and newspaper clippings.
The photos include Dorothea in her municipal cap and robe and with her sister Freda who she appointed as her Mayoress,
She did not belong to any political party, but instead identified as a ‘progressive’ shunning partisan politics, according to Tower Hamlets heritage officer Melanie Strong who is giving today’s talk.
“She lived with her dad who was a doctor in Bethnal Green,” Melanie explains.
“Her diaries reveal that, despite being the Mayor, her father expected her to do all the housework.”
The role of mayor at the time was a largely ceremonial, to chair council meetings and attend galas.
She had worked previously as a teacher, but as the Mayor, Dorothea organised pageants to instil a sense of pride in pupils to encourage them to remain in Bethnal Green after leaving school.
This afternoon’s talk at the Tower Hamlets Archive Library in Bancroft Road, Mile End, starts at 2.30pm and is free.