Mayor 1936-7

Her Worship the Mayor 1936 - 1937

Then in November 1936 she was elected mayor. There were two candidates up for the position – Daisy and another woman, Alderman Mrs Bock. The choice was made by drawing the names from a hat. Her election was not unanimous – one member of the council objected strongly;

From the Stratford Express 9th November 1936

Her Worship the Mayor of West Ham

Two new records established

First woman, youngest mayor

West Ham has a lady mayor. She is Alderman Daisy Parsons, the first of her sex and the youngest mayor to occupy the mayoral chair. She was elected at the annual meeting of the council on Monday and her eldest daughter Mrs M I Tompkin will fill the role of Mayoress.

There was only one dissenting vote, that of Alderman Rumsey who wished he had got out of the Borough before he saw a woman occupying the mayoral chair. He suggested giving the seat to a man outside the council. …

Councillor Mrs Gregory moved the election of Mrs Parsons as Mayor for the next year. She was very pleased when she was asked to do so. They were girls at school together, and had known one another many years.

Alderman Croot seconded: I don’t know where poor old Tom is going to, Tom and I have been friends for many years. He need not fear it will be any worse when she is mayor than when she was just an alderman. In my opinion it will be easier for her.

Alderman Hollins: declared that they had offered the Mayoralty to the late Alderman Kerrison but in view of her advancing years and increasing deafness she declined to take it. She would have been delighted to know that one of her lieutenants was going to be the first woman mayor.

Alderman Rumsey; He was sorry to see the day when a woman was to occupy the chair (Shame) When a town hands itself over to petticoat government it is always in trouble. If the man is not the master in his own house he is in for a bad time. The woman wears the trousers. You were told by the mover of the resolution what wonderful things the lady had done, but she did not mention any of them. I do not know of one thing in the borough which ever came from this lady’s brain. The Alderman said he had come up against two or three lady Mayors during his mayoralty and he had to say they were absolute failures. A woman mayor was out of place. She was alright for exhibition purposes but for business it was not in the best interests of the town to have a woman mayor. This council chamber is deteriorating, and I wish I had got out of it before ever I saw a woman occupying that chair.

The Mayor realised the responsibility. She thought the members would expect no more from her than her best. Her old friend Alderman Kerrison had scarcely been out of her thoughts during the past week, and if it were possible, she believed that she knew what was going on that night. She had invited and old friend of Alderman Kerrison’s to be present that night, Mrs Baldock. Referring to her husband, the Mayor said she did not think he was going to be any different a partner than he had been before. He is still going to be the boss in his own home, so don’t have any qualms. She had nothing to regret or apologise for with regard to her early life and she felt very proud that her mother could be present there that night. She thanked her for her earlier training and she also wanted to thank publicly her husband and children for the help they had given her through out her municipal career. To her colleagues on the council she tendered her thanks for their tuition when she was a raw recruit. Although Alderman Rumsey said this would be one of the failures of the borough, other people did not regard the selection as an unpopular one judging by all the messages of congratulation she had received.

As the first woman mayor, a special set of mayoral robes and tri-corn hat had to be made. After her mayoral year was over, she kept the hat, and in 1985 her son Stanley gave it to Newham Council.

During her mayoral year she undertook 500 engagements. The following are a selection:

On 12th May 1937 she attended the coronation of King George VI as the representative of West Ham.

From the Stratford Express 29th May 1937

Mayor’s Coronation impressions – how she saw the abbey ceremony

The Mayor of West Ham Ald. Mrs Daisy Parsons, was so thrilled by all she witnessed in Westminster Abbey at the Coronation ceremony that she forgot to eat the sandwich she had taken until she was on her way home at night. She said that there was no opportunity of getting anything to eat and she had taken the precaution of providing herself with a sandwich, but although she was there from twenty to seven in the morning until five past six at night she never thought about it.

My greatest anxiety after the ceremony was over said the Mayor was to get back to West Ham to participate in some of the tea parties, but it was impossible to get away from the Abbey until I did and consequently could only attend a few of the parties.

I was in a balcony just above the Unknown Warrior’s Tomb with other mayors, and although we could not see the actual crowning there was plenty else to see. The great impression to my mind was the splendour of the pageantry and the brilliance of the whole scene, the wonderful tapestries, and the richness of the carpets, the beautiful dresses gorgeous uniforms, and colourful national costumes of the visitors from other countries. The whole made a scene never to be forgotten.

I had never witnessed a state procession before, and I don’t suppose I shell ever be present at such a ceremony again, and I regard it as an outstanding event in my life.

I felt too that this was probably the only country in the world where a royal family could move with such perfect freedom among the populace without fear of any untoward happening, and I also felt that the wide representation of all classes and creeds within the Abbey was a wonderful demonstration of the close relationship between the Throne and the people.

The Mayor added that she thought the outstanding figure was Queen Mary. In spite of her recent worries she carried herself with queenly dignity.

The younger princesses were charming and I was interested to see the elder one whisper to the younger one in the procession as if informing her what to do. When they came into the Abbey I thought the younger Princess Margaret Rose seemed timid and walked closer to her aunt the Princess Royal. The Mayor went on to mention some of the people whom she recognised and said that the Aga Khan was a picturesque figure in pale blue satin. She added she recognised Canon guy Rogers formerly Vicar of West Ham who was one of the King’s Chaplains who formed a guard of honour in the Abbey.

The general impression left on her mind was that there was no class distinction in the Abbey where people representative of all sections had met as members of one big united family to witness a great historic event.

Coronation Reception at West Ham

Brilliant scene at the Town Hall

Coronation festivities in West Ham concluded on Friday night (the Mayor’s birthday) wit ah reception in the Town Hall by the Mayor and Mayoress. It was an extremely happy function in which representatives of all branches of the community participated the guests numbering over 400.

Never has the town hall presented a more charming appearance. Recently redecorated, the beauties of its interior adornments were enhanced by special lighting.

The corridors were gay with electric fairy lamps, and altogether the appearance of the hall must have greatly impressed visitors from other districts. The reception was followed by dancing until 9.30pm. Then came the refreshment interval, and afterwards a cabaret, a number of capable artistes contributing to an entertaining programme.

Afterwards the Mayor, who was the recipient of many birthday greetings, and the Mayoress went on the platform and the former briefly addressed the gathering. There were nine mayors present which proved that the public representation of other districts appreciated the little efforts that West Ham made. In conclusion the Mayor wished prosperity to every borough represented and above all peace. Then I do not think we need fear anything.

A bouquet was presented to the Mayor on behalf of her family by Miss Joan Parsons, as a birthday gift.

Dancing was resumed the first being the snowball waltz ‘It’s my mother’s birthday today’ which the Mayor danced with her son.

For the convenience of guests arriving by car two streets in the vicinity of West Ham Lane relief station were used as parking places, and the chauffeurs were entertained in the station premises.

On 3rd June, Daisy, along with the City of London Corporation fathers opened a children's play centre in West Ham Park to commemorate the coronation.

On 6th June 1937 she drove the first trolley bus on its route.

From the Stratford Express 3rd June 1937

Trolley ‘Buses start on Sunday

Lady Mayor as driver

85 buses for 78 Tramcars

In the wee small hours of Sunday morning – at 6.43 to be precise the Mayor of West Ham will inaugurate London Transport’s largest conversion from tramcars to trolleybuses. Afterwards the mayor will for a short distance a passenger and will be given the first ticket for West Ham and district.

More than 15 road miles are affected by the conversion and 78 tramcars will be withdrawn. The 85 trolleybuses which will take their place are of the latest type. It is claimed that they are the quietest passenger vehicles yet devised. Instead of wheels, carbon shoes that glide noiselessly along overhead wires are employed to collect current. The new routes are:

668 Stratford Broadway to Canning Town Fire Station

687 Chingford Mount to Victoria and Albert Docks via Wanstead Flats

697 Chingford Mount to Victoria and Albert Docks via Abbey Arms

699 Chingford Mount to Victoria and Albert Docks via Greengate

There will be some minor alterations in fares including workmen’s return fares of ½d. Whilst the latter change involves a slight increase in fares between certain points, it reduces other fares by ½d.

On the other hand certain additional 2d workmen’s fares have been introduced.

On 30th August 1937 she opened the Canning Town Lido;

From the Stratford Express 4th September 1937

West Ham Lido opened in Thunder Storm

Mayor takes a plunge

£24,000 amenity for Canning Town

Sun bathing in Beckton Road

To the accompaniment of rolling thunder and vivid flashes of lightening, Canning Town Lido was opened on Monday afternoon by the Mayor of West Ham Alderman Mrs Parsons in the presence of a large audience.

It replaces the old swimming pool on the same site, and it is a fine modern open air bath, with up to date fittings and appurtenances. It is not yet fully completed, insomuchas some of the sunbathing terraces remain to be constructed, but apart from that it is finished. It presents an attractive appearance, with its cascade aerators, one at each end of the pool illuminated at night by electricity, when the water is also floodlit.

The old swimming pool which occupied the site of the new bath was built by the Corporation about 30 years ago out of funds privately subscribed and was open for free use. Lack of filtration and sterilization made it a potential menace to health, and the Council decided to replace it.

Before its completion many difficulties had to be overcome. The site is very low lying, and the comparatively close proximity of the docks and Thames meant that water would be encountered, but the vast quantities with which the contractors had to cope was far beyond expectations. For some time they had to pump away a million gallons of water a week. To make matters worse rain fell on 51 successive days.

Great interest was taken in the opening ceremony. Guests were received by the Mayor and Mayoress at the entrance to the Lido. Having been invited to open the entrance doors the Mayor was presented with a golden key as a souvenir. Having declared the West Ham Municipal Lido open, the Mayor proceeded to unveil a plaque commemorating the ceremony. The assembly inspected the bath and buildings and saw the fist swimmer take the plunge. This was little Pat Denahy, a sturdy girl aged 9. She was lifted by the Mayor and Town Clerk and at a given signal thrown into the water. A little more tilting would have made the throw more successful, but the youngster did not seem to mind being dropped flat and trudged her way swiftly across the bath.

Tea was served on the terrace and before this concluded the thunderstorm which had been threatening broke. Some heavy claps of thunder preceded by flashes of lightening were accompanied by copious rain, but inclemency did not deter the speakers.

The Mayor on behalf of the Mayoress and herself said she wished to thank the assembly whole heartedly for the way they had received the proposition and Alderman Husband and Councillor Mrs Cook for the way they had proposed it. She thought the Mayoress and she should thank those who had invited them to be present. It was an honour to be asked to perform such a duty, and that the day’s ceremony was something to look back on. They knew when Alderman Hollins started what he called his ‘folly’ he would turn it into something else … They were very pleased to see such a magnificent place. There were facilities for sun-bathing and she could visualise Alderman Thorne reclining on the terrace in his sun bathing costume.

Alderman Warner added: The council had a problem before them in educating the people for leisure. Public houses were introducing music and dancing. He believed in open air sports and as a past sportsman himself realised that to be successful in that one had to live cleanly. To do this one must have a clean mind, and that would take the next generation further than this one.

At the conclusion of the opening ceremony the Mayor and several members of the council entered the water and in other ways tested the amenities of the lido.

In the evening an inaugural swimming gala took place and 1700 people paid for admission. An exceptionally interesting programme was presented, opening with a challenge race by members of the council. This was won by Councillor W Head in 47 secs with Councillor Gilman a good second. There were various exhibitions given of diving and swimming including Mr E H Temme who gave an exhibition of the strokes used by him on his channel swims. There were also races.

[Footnote: Daisy Parsons could not swim and disliked the water. There had been some concern that the rates could not stand the burden of the Lido, that it was a white elephant and that it had been built in the wrong place]

On 24th September there was a Pageant of Sport at West Ham Speedway track, with proceeds to the project fund to rebuild the Out Patients Department of St Mary’s Hospital.

From the Stratford Express September 1937

Famous artiste sings at stadium

30,000 cheer Miss Gracie Fields

Pageant of Sport for Charity

Thirty thousand people cheered Miss Gracie Fields, the famous artiste and film star when in the company of the Mayor of West Ham, and the Mayoress, she walked out onto the greyhound track of the West Ham Stadium on Friday night. She had visited the stadium to give her support to the pageant of sport organised to inaugurate a fund for the rebuilding of the out patients department of St Mary’s Hospital.

‘Can you hear me mother?’ she asked as she picked up the portable microphone and then to the bandsmen of the 6th Battalion the East Surrey Regiment T.A. who provided the music for the evening, ‘Come on lads play summat’. They played ‘Laugh your troubles away’ and Miss Fields sang it to the delight of the crowd. Then she gave them ‘Sally’ and afterwards at her invitation to ‘get a bit matey’ they sang it with her. When she walked round the speedway track with the Mayor and Mayoress there was a rush from the enclosures on to the greyhound track to get a ‘close-up’.

The famous star was certainly a great attraction and by her presence largely helped the venture of rebuilding, for which approximately £23,000 is required. Many others also gave their aid in staging what was a unique entertainment, including as it did speedway and cycle racing, boxing and a parade of famous greyhounds, including a firework display. Another celebrity in the world of entertainment also helped. She was Miss Pat Hyde of Plaistow the well known radio entertainer who played her accordion and sang into the microphone in the boxing ring, which was erected in the centre of the arena. Eric Chitty the West Ham Speedway rider also crooned a few choruses from this ring, where previously two famous local boxing champions of the past Teddy Baldock, the ex-bantam weight champion and Mike Honeyman ex-featherweight champion had given an exhibition bout, and a comedy bout had been provided by Billy Robins of Bethnal Green and Jack Maynard of Kent.

There was also cycle racing in which two teams of riders representing West Ham and Herne Hill contested a match of nine heats on the same lines as speedway racing.

The speedway challenge match was between a team of West Ham reserve riders and Norwich.

The celebrated Mick the Miller led the parade of famous greyhounds followed by other well known performers in Flying Wedge, Avion Balerino and Wattle Mark, and a string from the West Ham kennels. Altogether the event was highly successful as well as entertaining and all those associated with its organisation and carrying out duties are deserving of congratulation.

The Mayor of West Ham who was the chairman of the committee over the microphone voiced her thanks to all who had joined in helping the cause. She said they were particularly grateful to Miss Gracie Fields for her generosity in attending, to Miss Pat Hyde, and to all those who had given their services in providing their entertainment.

Her last task as mayor was to act as godmother to triplets who were born at Queen Mary's Hospital.

 

Last update: 1st May 2007