HILDA MARTINDALE C.B.E 1875 - 1952
Hilda Martindale was born a posthumous child in 1875, six months after her mother was widowed. Along with her elder sister Louisa she was brought into her mother’s political and social interests and was exposed at an early age to lectures by Mrs Josephine Butler, Mrs Annie Besant, and Miss Jane Cobden (later Mrs Fisher Unwin) who was the first woman to serve on the London County Council. The sisters met leading supporters of the Women’s Cause and of Liberalism and were taken abroad to Europe, from time to time missing a term’s schooling !
Following her sister to the Brighton High School when the family moved to 2 Lancaster Road, Preston, Brighton. Hilda also followed Louisa to the Royal Holloway College in Egham 1893 -1895 going on in 1897 to Bedford College to study Hygiene and Sanitary Science which involved visits to Poor Law Institutions and investigating the treatment of Pauper Children in the care of the state.
After the family trip around the world in 1900, in 1901 she was interviewed by Miss (later Dame) Adelaide Anderson the Principal Lady Inspector of Factories at the Home Office and was offered a job as one of 6 Lady Inspectors. The work involved visiting factories, and industrial workshops which employed women and children and ascertaining that the laws on their conditions of employment were upheld by employers. Permitted length of hours of employment were frequently ignored, statutory meal breaks curtailed, the law against Sunday Working often abused and it was the job of the Lady Inspector to make routine visits - often after complaints from the women - and to prosecute offending employers.
In 1912 Hilda was promoted to Senior Lady Inspector and became involved with women workers in the potteries of the Midlands who suffered greatly from lead poisoning acquired from from processes in making china and earthenware. The Lady Inspectors also reported on Industrial Injuries sustained by women and gave evidence at Inquests and during the War (First) they were involved with the safety of women workers who took up heavy industrial labour. In 1921 the men’s and women’s sides of the Factory Inspectorate were merged and Hilda became Superintending Inspector for the Southern Division (with a male deputy) and in 1925 was promoted to one of 3 Deputy Chief Inspectors: in 1933 she moved into the Administrative Civil Service and eventually obtained the most prestigious post of Director of Women Establishments at HM Treasury. With responsibility for 77,00 women civil servants Hilda Martindale enjoyed her office near Downing Street with its panelled walls and blue silk carpet, and the invitations to Royal Garden Parties where she represented the women. She retired in 1937 but continued to serve on many Trade Boards and Educational Councils, as an Advisor to the Government, lecturing at the University, and writing. She died in 1957.