Dorothy Stringer (1894-1977)

On 19 December 1968, Dorothy Stringer was granted Freedom of the Borough of Brighton. She was only the second woman to have been honoured in this way but, given her record of service to the town, it must have come as no surprise. Best known for her contribution to education, Stringer was a former Mayor, Alderman and senior council member who was awarded an OBE in 1960. In 1969, when she was in her mid-seventies, she still served on countless committees.

Stringer was born in 1894 into a Brighton family that was active in public life. Her father Joseph was an Alderman, her mother Emma was a member of the Board of Guardians and her cousin, Herbert Galliers, was Mayor of Brighton in 1929. She joined the Council’s Education Committee in 1923 and served on it for an incredible 50 years. During this time, she became the committee’s first female chair and, in 1955, a new secondary school was named after her.

As a young woman, Stringer was a talented singer and pianist, and a member of St Bartholomew’s Church Choir. During the First World War, she is said to have taken part in performances put on to entertain wounded soldiers who were being cared for in Brighton’s military hospitals, including the Royal Pavilion.

She was first elected to Brighton Council in 1933 and was made the town’s Mayor in 1952. Two scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings, invitations and other ephemera documenting her mayoral year are held at Brighton History Centre, and these show just how involved she was in the life of the town. From the opening of local businesses to visits to schools, sporting events, conferences and exhibitions, Dorothy Stringer seems to have been an ever-present figure.

Going to balls, banquets and concerts may have been part of the job but, evidently, Stringer also concerned herself with the welfare of vulnerable people, including children and the elderly. At the Mayoral Banquet, which was held at the Royal Pavilion, she made this clear,  promising to, ‘join in the laughter and joy of children and of youth, give a little happiness to the old folk, have courage when the need arises and try to make the right decisions.’

She also paid tribute to the women of Brighton, those who had served in the war, and those who were at home, ‘doing noble work’. At the end of her year of office, fellow councillor Stanley Deason had this to say:  ‘If you have done nothing else, you have made it plain that a woman of ability and integrity can take her place with men and do what they do, and you have done it magnificently. You have performed a service to women, the council and the town.’

Dorothy Stringer continued her work until 1974. She died in 1977 and is buried in Brighton’s Extra Mural Cemetery.

Kate Elms, Brighton History Centre

One Response

Leave a Reply