Council seeks funds to honour former local MP Barbara Castle

Former MP Barbara Castle. Image: National Archives of Malawi via Wikimedia.

An appeal has been launched to raise £50,000 for a statue to pay tribute to the former MP Barbara Castle.

The council member for Blackburn with Darwen, Maureen Bateson MBE, has spearheaded the campaign following this year’s International Women’s Day.

Councillor Bateson said: “There was a campaign about there not being enough statues nationally that symbolise women and the one woman who really put Blackburn on the map was Barbara Castle.

“She was a really dynamic person and so we felt that this could be a great opportunity to try our best to honour her in this way,” she added.

The statue is set to be placed either in the town centre, or outside the Victoria Building at Blackburn College.

The former MP for Blackburn East was first elected to the Labour Government in 1945 and served until her retirement in 1979. She died in 2002 aged 91.

Mrs Castle was best known for her work for women’s rights, forming part of the cabinet responsible for introducing the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

She also introduced the breathalyser and mandatory seatbelts for all new cars in as Minister of Transport from 1965 to 1968.

Linda Bury, 64, from Darwen, said: “Barbara Castle was a tremendous advocate for Blackburnians and did lots of good works to help people from the area.

“She does deserve as accolade of some sort, although some people might think it is an unnecessary cost during these difficult times of homelessness and poverty,” she added.

Barbara Castle Way in Blackburn. Image: Google Maps

Graeme Torrance, 35, from Rishton, said: “I am not against the statue. What I am against is the possibility of taxpayers’ money being used to fund it.

“If you are going to raise the money from donations that’s a different story, but right now the roads in and around Blackburn need fixing not just patching up,” he added.

Councillor Bateson stated the Barbara Castle statue would be a significant topic, particularly for women in Blackburn, to tell future generations about and the people who knew her over the years, would have many tales to tell about Barbara.  

The council has raised a total of £240 in crowdfunding donations so far with the Barbara Castle Trust also pledging to add £19,000 to the funds raised.

Donate at ‘Thank you Barbara Castle’ GoFundMe page.