A-Z

A Tribute to


Ada Jane Summers, MBE, JP


(1861 - 1944)


Ada Jane Summers M.B.E. J.P. (1861-1944)The Blue Plaque at Stalybridge Civic Hall celebrates the life of Ada Summers who was the first Woman Councillor, Mayor and Freeman of Stalybridge. The first woman to adjudicate on an English Bench and was one of the first Women in England to be appointed Justice of the Peace.

Origins

Born in Oldham in 1861, she was the daughter to Mr and Mrs George Broome of Copster House, Oldham, a well known textile mill owner.

She later married John Summers JP of John Summers and Son, owners of the Globe Ironworks, Stalybridge, who sadly died in 1910.

On the Council

Mrs Summers joined the Council as a Liberal representative for Stalybridge in 1912 at a time when women were still excluded from voting in general elections.

She was elected Mayor in November 1919 and served with distinction for two years.

In December 1919, a month later, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act came into force, which enabled women for the first time to become magistrates. She was sworn in, becoming the first woman to adjudicate on an English Bench.

In October 1920 when an Act of Parliament was passed which enabled women to perform the duties of magistrates, she was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the Borough Magisterial duties.

During her long career on the Council, she served on almost all the Council Committees. This included Finance, Public Health, Maternity and Child Welfare and Housing. She was also deputy chairman of the Education Committee.

"The Lady Bountiful"

Ada Summers was described locally as the 'Lady Bountiful'. She used her wealth which was left to her when her husband died, to benefit the town and community.

At the Council's suggestion, she started a school to teach mothers their duty. This in time developed into a maternity and child welfare centre. Every Christmas she would donate a huge Christmas tree and presents for the children at the annual party.

She funded an unofficial employment centre of her own, mainly by keeping it open as an unprofitable section of her own ironworks.

She funded the Ladies Work Society with money left in her husband's will for philanthropic work. This included summer picnics for nurses, convalescent treatment for sick members and treats for maids. She continued this work at her own expense after her husband's legacy had been exhausted.

She gave £3,000 towards building a second nurse's home in 1925-6 and a considerable sum for it's furnishing. Indirectly she gave numerous large sums of money through funds raised by respective Mayors of Stalybridge for the Infirmary.

In 1926, she became president of the Stalybridge Mechanics Institute until 1936. She also started a boys club here in January 1929. This was known locally as the Mrs Summers Boy's Club because of her endless interest and attention.

Blue PlaqueShe was president of many other societies, including the Stalybridge auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society.

She also took a keen interest in the probation and social services of the Police Court Mission in Stalybridge and Dukinfield, which was supported by voluntary contributions. Mrs Summers, as president gave continuous support and financial help.

A Sad Goodbye

Mrs Summers died in 1944 and her service was carried out at Mottram Church. The Coroner at the funeral was recorded saying "It does not require any words of mine to appreciate Mrs Summers beneficence to this town and the services she rendered to the town upon the Council on which she served many years". He added "Her services were innumerable and would be very greatly missed"