Betty Boothroyd - A Life In Politics At Dewsbury Museum

| 09 January 2004
Shows a black and white photograph of a young Betty Boothroyd standing, holding a bike outside a house. To the right of the image there is another young girl pushing a toy pram down the road.

Photo: a young girl with a glittering future ahead pictured outside her family home in Dewsbury. From the collection of Baroness Boothroyd.

Betty Boothroyd – A Life in Politics showcases the life and political career of Dewsbury’s most famous daughter and is on show at Dewsbury Museum until April 4.

The first female Speaker of the House of Commons, from 1992 until 2000, Baroness Betty Boothroyd was one of the most recognisable and respected politicians in Britain.

"As Speaker," explained Museum Officer Grant Scanlon, "Betty was renowned for her no-nonsense approach, her wit and scathing putdowns."

Shows an image of a website home page that contains graphic images of Betty Boothroyd and the Houses of Parliament alongside small sections of text.

Photo: the show also exists in virtual form, so click here for an online look at Betty's life and the political process. Web site by Lionart, Birmingham.

That Baroness Boothroyd should have such a reputation is not a surprise since this is the lady who clawed her way from the bottom to the very top of the political ladder.

Born in Dewsbury in 1929, Boothroyd was the daughter of a trade union activist and knew from an early age that politics, namely socialism, would be the path for her.

"Like my parents, I yearned for change and a better future for people who were forced to live such narrow lives," she explained.

Shows a black and white photograph of Betty Boothroyd just after winning a seat in Parliament at election. She is being kissed on the cheek by an elder woman who is standing to the left of the image.

Photo: in 1973 Betty Boothroyd entered the Commons for the first time when she was elected as MP for West Bromwich. Express and Star Wolverhampton.

Following a brief career as a dancer, Boothroyd decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and stood in the Dewsbury Council elections of 1952. She failed to win a seat but embarked on a resolute struggle that took her through five elections.

In 1973 her efforts paid off and she was elected as a Labour MP for West Bromwich. However, in 1992 she eclipsed that achievement by becoming the first female Speaker of the House of Commons.

Designed and produced by Lionart of Birmingham on behalf of Sandwell Museum Service, the exhibition uses Baroness Boothroyd’s illustrious career as a launch pad for an examination of the UK political system.

Shows a photograph of an exhibition installation. At the centre of the shot is a large cylindrical cabinet with drawers, while in the background there are two large light boxes which are covered in text.

Photo: the exhibition is completely interactive and hands-on, so all ages can learn about how the modern political process works.

Visitors can browse through a fascinating collection of objects given to Boothroyd throughout her long career or try on the Speaker’s robes.

An interactive education pod introduces themes of citizenship and democracy and aims to teach visitors about elections and how local and national government really works.

The is show accompanied by a virtual exhibition called Citizenship and democracy, which can be found by clicking on this link.

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