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

3 Responses

  1. A. E. Stringer III

    My dad (Alfred E. Stringer Jr) always referred to Dorothy Stringer as Cousin Dorothy. I was never quite sure how that worked as Dad was born in 1919. But Dad’s father (Alfred Sr), his uncle (Charles), and three other brothers all settled in the United States.
    Alfred Sr and Charles started a business in plumbing, but I never knew anything of the other three brothers. Charles had a bit of a gambling problem and an eye for the ladies, and when the company began to suffer for it, Alfred bought Charles share. The two brothers never talked again. Alfred Sr had an inventive nature and devised a method whereby one pipe laid end to end with another pipe did not have to be wrapped in leather to provide a seal. He created Stringer Bros fitting wherein a pipe would have a hub at one end. Thus the small end of one pipe could be fitted inside the large end of another pipe, and this could be sealed with a gasket and a soldered lead seal. Additionally, he devised pipe fittings whereby the pipe would make a “Y” and could go into more than one direction. After the depression, Stringer Bros was sold to Alabama Pipe Co, which was sold to Woodward Iron Co, which eventually became a small part of the Mead Paper conglomerate.
    Dad’s uncle Charles did have one son (Russell) who became a French teacher at a school called Pomfret School in Connecticut. (it’s half way between Hartford Connecticut and Providence Rhode Island. I am not aware that he ever married or created a family line.
    Grandpa (Alfred Sr) sired my Dad in 1919 but also a daughter Helen (Vicky) Stringer in 1917. Barely done with her teens, Helen she ran off to NY to see if she make her mark on Broadway. She did appear in several off Broadway performances, was once on a Perry Mason program (as a juror), was in a Benson Hedges cigarette commercial (doing a spoof on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour), and she was published for her poetic works. But she best know for her other three accomplishments. As an accomplished violinist and pianist, and having a phenomenal memory, she toured the Catskills and throughout NY as an entertainer. Additionally, every summer she was employed to sail & perform on the Cunard Cruise Lines. And she was a music teacher on staff at a NY college (Hunter College, I believe). She and her husband had one son who went into advertising. He moved to and then later retired in Scottsdale, Arizona.
    My Dad (cousin Al to Dorothy) wasn’t even 20 when the British and French navies had 8 naval groups (including 4 carriers, 16 cruisers, and more) hunting a particularly elusive pocket battleship (Graf Spee). It inflicted much damage before becoming damaged itself and got cornered in Montevideo. Dad was only 19 but he ran away from home, joined the navy, and served for 6 years. He attained the rating of Chief Petty Officer and sometimes talked about he would have loved to have spent his entire career in the Navy. But he was married and four kids came on the scene: Alfred III, Robert, Linda, and Marsha. Three of these children never bore offspring; Linda had a child out of wedlock. There is no information on Linda nor on the child.
    As previously stated, the family never had any information on Alfred Sr.’s other three brothers.
    During September/1976 when the US was going mad celebrating the bicentennial, Mom and I took the opportunity to get a cheap flight to England. We joined a group from the Chicago Counsel of Foreign Relations and flew off to merry old England. We were there for nearly 3 weeks and made time to travel from London down to Brighton. We saw the Lanes (interesting), the pavilion (very impressive), Dorothy Stringer School, and more. We saw Stringer Way, and of course we took time to visit Dad’s cousin Dorothy. She was already failing and felt quite badly that she could not entertain us. She was apologetic that she could not spend more time with us. We were apologetic that we were intruding and hadn’t given more notice. She was a grand old lady, but she was gone the following year. She had a lovely woman who stayed with her and took care of her. And my regret was that we hadn’t come to see her years earlier.

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