Monumental Welsh Women, in partnership with the Statue for Lady Rhondda group are pleased to announce that acclaimed figurative sculptor Jane Robbins has been commissioned to create a sculpture of Suffragette Lady Rhondda (Margaret Haig Thomas.) 

The announcement was made on BBC Radio Wales’ Lynn Bowles programme today (December 4th.)

The monument will be the fourth of five statues of named Welsh women being erected by the Monumental Welsh Women group following a national campaign to honour Wales’ hidden heroines, broadcast by BBC Wales in 2019. 

“…As a women’s rights campaigner, Lady Rhondda was instrumental in the establishment of the Newport Women’s Social and Political Union. She took the campaign for womens’ suffrage across South Wales and founded one of the most influential political magazines of her day…”

Lady Rhondda was a Suffragette, a global business woman, a journalist and Editor and lifelong campaigner for women’s equality. Her 40 year campaign for female peers resulted in women being able to sit in the House of Lords. Sadly, she died before the law she fought for was changed, too late to take her own seat.  

Lady Rhondda

Lady Rhondda’s achievements are truly remarkable…..

  • She confronted the anti-suffrage Prime Minister Asquith by jumping on his car. 
  • She set fire to a post box and was sent to prison, where she went on hunger strike. 
  • In the First World War she ensured women played a vital role, recruiting them into the women’s services.
  • She became Commissioner for Wales in the Women’s National Service Department, then Chief Controller of women’s recruitment at the Ministry of National Service in London.  
  • Crossing the Atlantic, she survived the sinking of the Lusitania when it was torpedoed during the war, claiming more than 1,100 lives. 
  • After the war as well as campaigning for the rights of women workers who did not want to be pushed back into the home.
  • she also continued the fight for the final phase of women’s suffrage which saw all women get the vote in 1928.  
  • She was the greatest global business woman of her era. She sat on the board of 33 companies, chairing seven of them.
  • She also became the first and to date only female to be President of the Institute of Directors. 
  • As a journalist she created and edited a ground-breaking and hugely influential weekly paper called Time and Tide.
  • Lady Rhondda also used the paper to push her progressive programme called The Six Point Group. It made gender equality paramount. 

Sculptor Jane Robbins is known for her figurative works, specialising in the human form. She is passionate about the creation of lasting, inspirational sculptures and embracing traditional craftsmanship. Previous works include a statue of Linda McCartney in Campbelltown Museum, Scotland and a bust of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst for the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester. 

Helen Molyneux from Monumental Welsh Women told us……

“We are delighted to be able to announce the commissioning of our fourth statue of a real Welsh woman. Lady Rhondda’s achievements were vast and diverse – from her political campaigning, to her pioneering business accomplishments to her influential journalism.

This will be the fourth statue commissioned by the Monumental Welsh Women project to celebrate the achievements of Wales’ hidden heroines – the women whose contributions to Welsh life and culture have been largely overlooked because of the era they were born in. 

The first, award-winning statue of Wales’s first black head teacher, Betty Campbell was unveiled in Cardiff in September 2021. The second, of Elaine Morgan the evolutionary theorist and dramatist, was unveiled in Mountain Ash in March of this year, while the third, of Cranogwen the master mariner and poet will be unveiled in June next year.” 

The five ‘Monumental Welsh Women’ Elizabeth Andrews, Betty Campbell, Cranogwen, Lady Rhondda and Elaine Morgan

Julie Nicholas from the Statue for Lady Rhondda Campaign added…….

“We are delighted to have chosen Jane Robbins as our artist for the Lady Rhonda statue. The panel agreed that Jane’s idea for the statue not only represents the story of Lady Rhondda and her many achievements, but also cleverly reflects the story of Newport, where the statue will be situated. We are thrilled that Jane is going to create our monument, and can’t wait to see the Statue of Lady Rhondda being revealed to the world.”

As for the woman tasked with the job of creating the monument: Jane Robbins is extremely proud of her Welsh roots – her father was born in Wrexham, and her grandfather, Ted Robbins was the Secretary of The Football Association for Wales (FAW) from 1909 until his death in 1946. All Jane’s work is cast at Castle Fine Art Foundry, Llanrhaedr, Near Oswestry.

Jane told us…..

“As a female sculptor I’m a rare breed – sculpture is a male dominated world. I like to think Lady Rhondda would approve of me being chosen to create her statue.

I think in commemorative sculpture it’s important to capture the person as they were in life. I’d like to celebrate the woman Lady Rhondda was in both the physical likeness I achieve and in capturing the dignity she possessed throughout her life and work.”

Jane Robbins

Monumental Welsh Women is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to recognising the contribution of women to the history and life of Wales. Founded to change the fact that no statues of real, non-fictionalised Welsh women exist in Wales, the group is working to change this.

Monumental Welsh Women’s mission is to erect 5 statues honouring 5 Welsh women in 5 different locations around Wales in 5 years. It’s a huge challenge. The profiles of the first 5 women the group wants to commemorate, and information on the Monumental Welsh Women campaign, can be found HERE.

The 5 Statues of 5 Welsh Women in 5 Years are as follows……

  • Betty Campbell – unveiled in September 2021 in Cardiff
  • Elaine Morgan – unveiled in March 2022 in Mountain Ash
  • Cranogwen – due to be unveiled in Llangrannog in June 2023
  • Lady Rhondda – due to be unveiled in 2024
  • Elizabeth Andrews – due to be unveiled in 2025