Politics

Lucy Frances Nettlefold, OBE (1891-1966) – Cross-Fertilisation: from Commerce to Committee – Pt 2

Women’s Interests

Crosby Hall

Nor did Nancy Nettlefold ever neglect her concerns for Women’s Interests and Academic Advancement, neither during those years in commerce, or after. Her directorship with JSN Ltd had given her an prominence in a man’s world and as a member and later President of the British Federation of University Women she used it to help promote women. With that presidential election it seems her secondment as Director of Crosby Hall was assured, and this seems to have inspired her to sit on other committees devoted to matters of Women’s Education and Health.

Thus, between 1932 and 1960 she was the University Representative of Bedford College, Regents Park, a women’s only college and between 1935 and 1951 she sat as a member on their College Finance Committee. Earlier, in 1931, she had joined the Managing Committee of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, serving there until 1960. As well, between 1936 and 1940 she was Vice Chairman on the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital Finance Committee, Building sub Committee and House Committee. She became a member of The Provisional Club, a name adopted because no-one had a better idea of what to call a new women’s only club.

Councils, Committees and Cross-Fertilisation

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital

1945 – 1960

Nancy Nettlefold was Conservative member of the St Marylebone Borough Council as Councillor for Dorset Square and Regents Park Ward, she remained on the Council for 15 years. She sat as:

  • Vice President of The Executive Committee of the St Marylebone Old People’s Welfare Association, a Trust in which her life friend, Mary MacIntosh, and she personally invested;
  • Vice Chairman of the Public Health Committee;  and
  • Member of various committees, Trade, Public Libraries and Planning;
  • Member of The Special Committee of the Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London and several other civic bodies contemporaneously.

During these years Nancy served on the Royal Commission for Equal Pay, in 1956 was Alderman of St Marylebone Borough Council and in 1957 was co-opted as Governor of The Royal Holloway College, another women’s college, once again supporting women’s causes.

Royal Holloway College

Nancy’s span as Conservative candidate for the London County Council (LCC) ran from 1949-60. She also sat as a member of the Welfare Committee and the Staff Appeals Committee. In 1951 she set up the Welfare Committee for Older People, similar to Marylebone and the General Council of the South East Regions Association for the Deaf. Over this period she sat as a member of the Central Council for District Nursing in London, which interests were influenced by the career of Mary MacIntosh, who had been Hospital Almoner. All this cross-fertilised with Nancy Nettlefold’s roles and interest in the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.

Eros at Piccadilly Circus

This was not all. An avid and maniacally fast but safe driver, all her life, she maintained that care should be taken to preserve London’s character and charm. Consistent with this interest, she became a member of the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee. Charm and character preservation lay behind her contesting: “Piccadilly is a beautiful Mess”, resulting in the Fountain of Eros being maintained and preserved in good condition at its centre for many more years.

Between 1949 and 1961, Nancy sat as a Member of the Education Committee and sometime Chairman of London College of Fashion, which was the Barrett Street Technical College. Her maternal grandfather had been a London Silk Merchant, so she used her connections for employment opportunities.

On Nancy’s retirement from the LCC, Dr O.Wright stated on behalf of the Clerk of The Council (LCC):

“Miss Nettlefold was a greatly valued member of the Council, whose views, however forcefully expressed, engendered light, not heat.”

Sir Isaac Hayward and Sir Percy Rugg disregarded the rigid rules of debate ‘to express the real regret with which all members viewed her departure’.

In 1960 she was awareded the OBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours List, cited as:

“Our trusty and well beloved Lucy Frances Nettlefold.”

Retirement to South Africa

With that she retired to her sister’s home in Cape Town where, you will understand, of course, she joined The Progressive Party, the University Women’s Association, the Business and Professional Women’s Club and the Committee of the Citizens Advice Bureau …

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