From Discovering Their Footsteps to ‘In Her Footsteps’ | POSTPONED

Nancy's shoes. Image: Kim Stevenson.

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Please note this event has been postponed until further notice - apologies for any inconvenience caused. Page updated 22 November 2021.

This discussion event focuses on ways of using the biographical resource of the Plymouth Powerful Women Project. It is hosted by Literature Works – the South West’s regional literature development agency – and showcases a major upcoming event, the premiere of Laura Horton’s play, ‘In Her Footsteps’. The current Plymouth Laureate of Words has drawn on the work of the PPW project in creating a community resource legacy highlighting a selection of women who, 1919-2019, have made a significant contribution to shaping today’s Plymouth.

Led by the Hoe Neighbourhood Forum in collaboration with the University of Plymouth’s CHEx team, based in the School of Society and Culture, the Lottery-funded project has researched and created a biographical database, which provides a legacy resource to be consulted and utilised by the Plymouth community, in order to raise the public profile of Plymouth’s heritage of powerful women – those who have made a difference to their communities and the city as a whole.

On 8 March 2021, International Women’s Day, a Plymouth Powerful Women Trail was launched, supported by an app available on the city’s Plymouth Trails site. Focused on the Hoe, it provides not only an interesting trail in its own right but also, a model for future trails in Plymouth.

On 8 March 2022, the University of Plymouth will host the premiere of ‘In Her Footsteps’. This discussion event provides an opportunity to hear more about how Laura Horton was first inspired by the Trail to contact the Project leaders (Penny Tarrant, Chair of the Hoe Neighbourhood Forum, Judith Rowbotham, of the University’s CHEx team, and Kim Stevenson, who developed the trail with Hannah Pooley from the City Council). There will be an opportunity to learn more about the heritage interests of the Hoe Neighbourhood Forum from Penny Tarrant, about Judith Rowbotham’s research into the last century of Plymouth Powerful Women, and about Kim Stevenson’s work to convert that research into a walkable trail. But the key focus of the event is on the development of the play, with the event providing another opportunity to reach out to the local community and for questions to be posed, especially to Laura, about the nature and shape of ‘In Her Footsteps’.

This event represents a partnership between The Hoe Neighbourhood Forum, the University of Plymouth and the creative partnership (Literature Works, Plymouth Culture and The Box) which supports Laura Horton’s Laureateship in Plymouth. We would like to thank our funders: the ESRC Festival of Social Science, via the University of Plymouth and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, via the Plymouth Powerful Women project, and its lead, the Hoe Neighbourhood forum.

This is an online event hosted via the broadcasting platform Crowdcast. Audience members will need to save a free seat via the above link. The event will go live at 18:30 and will last for one hour. An event reminder will be issued ten minutes before the event. Please email Professor Judith Rowbotham ( for enquiries.

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Plymouth's Powerful Women trail

The Powerful Women trail app celebrates 100 years of the important and influential women who lived or worked in the vicinity of The Hoe and who made a real difference to Plymouth, pushing boundaries, enhancing living conditions, promoting social justice and creating educational opportunities for all. 

Those featured include Nancy Astor MP, language school founder Suzanne Sparrow, scientist Marjorie Wilson, suffragist Clara Daymond and the South West’s first female GP Dr Rosa Bale, among others.

The 1.2 mile trail has been developed by the Hoe Neighbourhood Forum for their National Lottery Heritage Funded project, “100 Years of Plymouth Powerful Women” in association with the University of Plymouth. The research was conducted by Dr Judith Rowbotham (Honorary Professor) and content and images were sourced by Professor Kim Stevenson (Emeritus Professor) from the University. 

The free Plymouth Trails app is available from the AppStore or PlayStore.


'In Her Footsteps' Project Team

Penny Tarrant

Penny Tarrant is the Chair of the Hoe Neighbourhood Forum, a Board Director of Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, which collaborates on improvements to the Hoe and the Waterfront generally, as well as being a founding member and former Chair of Environment Plymouth, an umbrella group for any organisation working sustainably in the city. She also chairs the Plymouth Food Waste Partnership, which is campaigning for a domestic food waste collection in the city. 

Penny is very involved in her local community, with interests in both present challenges and heritage opportunities. Penny moved to Plymouth in 2013 after a career in the City of London, and with generations-strong family connections in Devon, and this underpins her ongoing commitment to advancing and improving the local community.

Hoe Neighbourhood Forum

The Hoe Neighbourhood Forum was established in 2017 to bring together the local community of the Hoe, with its unique heritage and present challenges. The Forum is recognised by Plymouth City Council as a statutory consultee in planning issues within the Hoe Forum boundary. A key part of its ethos is to bring together and balance the interests of residents, businesses and visitors alike, to make the Hoe the best possible place to visit, live and work. The Forum supports development but only where it enhances, rather than harms our world-class heritage. It also undertakes cultural projects, which bring us together as a community, with the Plymouth Powerful Women project being a significant example of this. Working with the University, and with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, it looks to highlight at least some of the women who had such an incredibly positive impact on Plymouth over the last century.

Judith Rowbotham

Judith Rowbotham is a Visiting Professor in the School of Society and Culture. An interdisciplinary scholar working as part of the CHEx team, and focusing on legal history, constitutional and criminal law, she was originally a socio-political historian, with a specialism in gender and the use of printed sources including newsprint. 

She is a regular commentator on constitutional issues associated with the monarchy, as well as on media and other social and cultural history issues, including being a regular contributor to 3DD Production’s television series Murder Maps.

Simone Schroff

Simone Schroff is a Lecturer in Law in the School of Society and Culture, and co-Chair of the University’s CHEx team, based in Law and Criminology. Her research interests, expressed through CHEx, focus on copyright law and policy; copyright-related business models; methodologies and cultural heritage.

CHEx (Culture and Heritage Exchange)

Formerly CHITCHAT, CHEx is a knowledge exchange initiative for the School of Society and Culture, led by Simone Schroff and Iain Channing. This initiative engages academic researchers, industry professionals, heritage stakeholders and the general public in interdisciplinary conversations through transmedia methods sources and platforms. The study of culture and heritage offers an important forum for the discussion of key influences and temporal trajectories that have helped shape the present. The initiative is proactive in disseminating its members’ research through its events such as public exhibitions, film showings and public seminars.

The CHEx website also holds an archive of primary source data, such as oral history interviews, focus group discussions and witness seminar transcripts that have been collected during the course of the initiative’s research projects, including the resource from the Plymouth Powerful Women project.

Laura Horton

Laura Horton is Plymouth Laureate of Words 2020-22. She is freelance writer and publicist, Laura is currently finishing her first play and writes short films and radio plays. She has ten years of experience in communications, including in-house at National Theatre, Natural History Museum and Somerset House and a range of freelance projects, from theatre to exhibitions, films, music, gaming and festivals for many large and small institutions and charities. She is currently leading the Theatre Stories campaign.

Image credit: Flavia Fraser-Cannon

Literature Works

Literature Works is a registered charity and Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation supporting creative writing and the development of writers and readers of all ages, from all walks of life in the South West of England. In a rapidly changing world we connect people, places and groups with the production and consumption of literature. We champion the power of poetry, story, writing and reading, working to safeguard and develop their role in our lives. We provide information, news and resources via our website and on social media.


This event is supported by

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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