Blue plaque honour for Yorkshire's first woman doctor

A blue plaque is being unveiled to honour Yorkshire’s first woman doctor.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 6:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 6:58 am
Dr Edith Pechey in her graduation robes in 1877. A portrait from the archives of the Medical Women’s Federation, London.
Dr Edith Pechey in her graduation robes in 1877. A portrait from the archives of the Medical Women’s Federation, London.

Dr Edith Pechey first came to Leeds in 1863 as a teacher. She was Yorkshire’s first woman doctor and had her consulting rooms on Park Square in Leeds city centre between 1877 and 1883.

During her stay in the city, she opened a free dispensary in Holbeck which was staffed entirely by women.

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From 1908 the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies marched under banners created to honour great women through the ages; this one commemorated Edith.

She later went on to establish the pioneering Cama Hospital in Mumbai, which offered medical training for Indian women. She also took part in the mass roll-out of vaccines for both the bubonic plague and cholera.

Dr Pechey's contribution is being recognised with a blue plaque by Leeds Civic Trust. It is being unveiled by local suffrage historian, Vine Pemberton Joss at the site of Edith Pechey’s former practice on Park Square in the city centre

Leeds Civic Trust director, Martin Hamilton, said: "We were delighted to accept this nomination for this ground-breaking woman whose medical career started in Leeds. It is fitting a testament to Edith Pechey’s successful struggle for equality that there are now more women GPs than men in the United Kingdom.”

Blue Plaque unveiler and suffrage historian Vine Pemberton Joss said: "Dr Edith Pechey was a pioneer. She was one of the first women to study at a British University and only the third to qualify as a doctor. She fought for women's rights, especially in education and the provision of healthcare in the UK and then in India.

Her legacy smoothed the way for those that came after her. She changed lives and saved lives, it seems fitting to honour her legacy, particularly at this moment in time.”

James Rhodes, partner at law firm DAC Beachcroft, which is sponsoring the blue plaque, said: "Our Leeds office has the privilege of sitting across the square from Dr Pechey’s former medical practice and the plaque will act as a regular reminder of her truly inspirational work.”

Leeds Civic Trust is a charity established in 1965 that promotes the improvements of Leeds in the spheres of planning, architecture, heritage, and city amenities. It is responsible for the blue plaque scheme which celebrates people, places, events and buildings that have made an important contribution to the city.

Dr Edith Pechey's blue plaque will be the 181st to be unveiled over the course of the last three decades.


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