Book recounts the life of a political history maker

Laura Gubbins (left) and Maureen Pearson prepare for the reconstruction to help launch the Dorothy Robson book.
Laura Gubbins (left) and Maureen Pearson prepare for the reconstruction to help launch the Dorothy Robson book.

The compelling story of one woman’s determination to improve life for many in Morpeth during the 1930s and 1940s is being told in a new book.

‘Service Not Self’ has been compiled by author Pru Heathcote from the memoirs of Dorothy Robson – the first woman and Labour Party supporter to win a seat on the old Tory and male dominated Morpeth Borough Council.

Performer Laura Gubbins has written a dramatic reconstruction of an election rally to launch the book at the Northumbrian Gathering.

Local volunteers will be acting with Laura, who will be playing Dorothy to engage and involve members of the audiences in Sanderson Arcade at 2pm on Saturday and Morpeth Town Hall at 11am on Sunday.

Dorothy wrote her memoirs between 1965 and 1977 and they were entrusted to Labour Party supporter Jim Rudd. He then passed them on to Morpethians Maureen Pearson and Bridget Gubbins.

Together they set up a Dorothy Robson Memorial Group to commission Pru Heathcote to create a compact version of the memoirs, while members Biddy Carrdus and Claire Selwood edited and managed the production of the book.

It is now about to be published by Greater Morpeth Development Trust using some Heritage Lottery Funding from the Emily Inspires! project that last year marked the 100th anniversary of the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison.

In addition, the group received grants from Morpeth Town Council, the Morpeth Antiquarian Society and the William Leech Trust.

“The book is a rare account of one woman’s struggles to improve the lot of the poor and it is a story that deserved to be published,” said Claire.

Dorothy, who died in 1984, was drawn into politics after being horrified at the conditions in parts of Morpeth when she moved to the town.

She won a seat on the Borough Council in 1939 and remained a councillor for eight years until losing the Labour Party nomination, although she continued to campaign on behalf of vulnerable people living in the town.