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Spotlight On: Christiana Hartley

Christiana Hartley CBE

1872-1948

Resident of Lord Street, Southport, Christiana Hartley was a social rights activist, welfare rights campaigner, philanthropist, and Liberal Party politician.

Christiana Hartley was born to Martha O’Conner Horsefield and William Pickles Hartley, the founder of Hartley’s Jam company which is still active today. Her family were Primitive Methodists and these religious principles guided her social works later in life.

Christiana Hartley was a woman in a man’s world. Described as possessing ‘masculine vigour and directness’, Hartley held all the positions women, traditionally did not hold.

She served on the Board of Directors at William Hartley and Sons Ltd, she served on the Board of Guardians for poor relief, as a Justice of the Peace, magistrate, became a councillor and ultimately became the Mayor of Southport in 1921.

Her elevation to Mayor of Southport was said to have caused ‘trepidation’ among some male colleagues.

Christiana Hartley was not content to live the sheltered life of a middle-class woman, instead she spent time living among the poor in so-called ‘flophouses’ where multiple families would reside in one room.

Hartley never married, nor did she have children. Hartley preferred instead to dedicate her life to the poor children of Southport; earning herself the moniker: ‘The Children’s Mayor.’

Famously nonpartisan, Hartley donated her salary to a Labour Party project designed to help the poor of Southport and coaxed her father into matching her £500 donation.

Alongside her charitable donations, Hartley opened the two maternity hospitals and promoted education for girls by endowing two scholarships for women at the University of Liverpool and Girton College, Cambridge.

She was awarded a CBE in 1943 for public service to Southport and also received an honourary degree from the University of Liverpool for her philanthropic work.
Christiana Hartley is a role model to the women of Southport; demonstrating kindness, empathy and a refusal to accept the limitations of being a woman in a man’s world.

Hartley is described as possessing ‘clear and concise speech, patience and courage, a love of humanity, and was not afraid to speak her mind.’

Southport’s children and Southport’s history would be poorer without her contribution.

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