Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Margaret Shelton, 2009.
Biography - Mrs Alice Unwin Muxlow
Mrs Muxlow with councillors in 1945
Mrs Muxlow and Councillors in front of the Council Buildings in 1952 as the chairman of the Urban Council, Ald. G Faulkner, prepares to proclaim
Queen Elizabeth's accession.

Born at Sheffield in Yorkshire, Mrs Muxlow was the elder daughter of a school teacher, Mr William Bennett of Pye Bank Church of England School in Sheffield, and herself became a school-teacher. From her father's example she learned a great deal about practical social work. Alice and her sister Ethel were both formidable women of their day. Ethel (married name Lenthall) went onto become a Justice of Peace and is described in the history of the Sheffield Labour Party as a "Powerful and effective forefront of Labour activity". The "Unwin" was Alice's mother's maiden name and it was an Unwin tradition that the mother's maiden name be passed onto the first-born, hence Alice Unwin Bennett. This tradition of handing on the mother's maiden name was absorbed into Alice's son's name; Thomas William Bennett Muxlow, in years to come and caused much confusion at times. Alice's grandson also has the same full names as his father.

On her marriage to Mr Oscar Archibald Hugh Muxlow, also a native of Sheffield in 1914, they moved to Buxton and soon afterwards to Great Harrowden. Her husband was in the Midland Bank at Wellingborough and Alice chose banking as a war time job during the conflict of 1914-18, working in the sub-offices of Earl's Barton, Wollaston and Thrapston.

Mr Muxlow became manager of the Midland Bank in Rushden and they have belonged to the town since that time, living at Newton Road.

Legion Service

Mrs Muxlow first came to prominence in 1929 as chairman of the Rushden British Legion Women's Section; shortly afterwards becoming chairman of the Infant Welfare Centre and remaining involved until her death. Remembered by Health Visitor, Mrs Pat Wallace as "attending the clinics most weeks".

An Urban Council member from April 1938, when she was the first woman elected, she proved an immediate success. Elected Chairman in 1946-7 and again in 1955-6, she remained on the Council until 1964. She sat as a Liberal, before becoming an Independent, and completed a notable "double" for her sex by securing election to the County Council, taking the South Ward, chairing the Health and Sanitary Committee, then acquitted herself with credit as chairman of the Library Committee, twice.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 17th July 1959, transcribed by Jim Hollis

County health chief - Mrs. A. Muxlow Appointed
The appointment of Mrs. A. Muxlow, of Rushden, as chairman of the County Health Committee was reported to yesterday’s meeting of Northamptonshire County Council.

Mrs. Muxlow succeeds Mr. H. R. Patenall, of Higham Ferrers, who held the position for ten years. She has given up the deputy chairmanship of the Children’s Committee.

During the war, Mrs Muxlow became an Air Raid Warden, being on duty at the time of the Roberts Street raid and bringing the A.R.P. Rest Centre into use for the first time. This was also the first time that any Rest Centre in Northamptonshire was used. She was Centre Organizer of the W.V.S. in Rushden, which was formed with its 21 distinct activities and at its peak had a membership of 600. Through the W.V.S. Mrs Muxlow became the County Salvage Officer. The first woman on the Local Invasion Committee, a member of the local Ministry of Information Committee, then appointed by Rushden Council, a consumer member of the Wellingborough Area Food Control Committee.

On becoming chairman of the County British Legion Woman's Section in 1940, her first meeting was held in an air raid shelter under a cinema in Northampton.

Other interests included the Nursing Association, (for some time as chairman), the Cottage Hospital Committee, St Mary's Church and golf.

OBE certificate Alice as Chairman of the Council 1946
The OBE certificate presented in 1965
for services to Local Government.
Alice Unwin Muxlow in her chain of Office as Chairman of Rushden Urban District Council 1946

Rushden Echo & Argus, 4th March 1946

VOTE FOR MUXLOW, the Liberal Candidate. "The British Legionite."

Mrs Muxlow was awarded an O.B.E. in 1965, for services to Local Government. She died on 16th December 1971 aged 82.

Described as one well suited to public work, well able to express the woman's point of view, having a shrewdness and homeliness associated with her native county. Alice Unwin Muxlow was a large, bustling lady, efficient, yet easy to work with. Being respected by the local children but regarded as an "Auntie"

A strong character, passionate about politics, constantly fighting for peoples causes, not always winning but certainly caring. An unusual couple for their times, Mr Muxlow would return from work at the Bank in wing collar, suit and bowler hat, would remove collar and tie, then putting on a flat cap would walk down to the Working Men's Club in Newton Road. [?Athletic Club? - the WMC is in Griffith Street]

Rushden and District History Society erected a plaque in her honour at her former home - 103 Newton Road on March 21st 2009. The unveiling was performed by the Town Mayor, Cllr Mrs Barbara Jenney.

Note: In retirement Alice lived across the road from 103 at 124 Newton Road.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the People & Families index
Click here to e-mail us