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Welsh suffragette ‘finally getting the recognition she deserves’ with new statue

08 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Lady Rhondda. Credit: Photographer unknown but image is from collection of AV Morgan via Wiki Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Nicholas Thomas, local democracy reporter

Council planners in Newport have backed a bid to erect a statue to a notable suffragette, in what supporters believe will be an important milestone in honouring the city’s women.

Lady Rhondda, born Margaret Haig Thomas, grew up in the city and was a prominent campaigner for women’s rights.

A local campaign to honour her achievements is now reaching a successful conclusion, after council officers granted planning permission for a new statue to be put up on the eastern side of the Millennium Footbridge, which spans the River Usk in the city centre.

Standing eight feet tall, the bronze statue of Lady Rhondda has been sculpted by artist Jane Robbins.

Letters of support

The plan has won the support of those living near the proposed site, with a dozen neighbours sending in letters of support – and none objecting – during a recent planning consultation in the local area.

One respondent said it was “about time that Newport had a statue of a woman in the city”.

“Lady Rhondda is an important part of Newport’s history, and it’s great that she’s finally getting the recognition that she deserves,” they added.

Another supporter told the council the statue “shines a strong light on the role of women, and in particular a famous leader of women and the suffragette movement who lived in Newport for most of her active life”.


A comment from someone described as Lady Rhondda’s biographer added: “I am delighted to endorse the erection of a statue to celebrate her life. The specific location in Newport is perfect. Llanwern was her childhood home and she was secretary of the Newport branch of the suffragettes for its entire existence.”

They said Lady Rhondda’s fame “spread nationally and internationally” throughout her life.

“She held key posts in Wales in World War One and became one of the UK’s leading business women,” they added. “She was the first female president of the Institute of Directors. She founded and edited for decades the [highly] influential weekly ‘Time & Tide’ and was the leading campaigner for women to take their seats in the House of Lords.

“This statue will bring people to Newport and be an especial inspiration to young women locally.”

Cranogwen in Llangrannog, image by Monumental Welsh Women

Monumental Welsh Women

Monumental Welsh Women (MWW) have campaigned to have five statues of five historical Welsh women in five years.

So far, they have successfully delivered the iconic Betty Campbell Monument in Cardiff, the beautiful statue of Elaine Morgan in Mountain Ash and the statue of Cranogwen has been unveiled in Llangrannog.

Plans for a statue for Elizabeth Andrews are still in progress, and the initial five year goal remains well within reach.

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