Did you know London’s first female mayor was born in Southwark?

Did you know : Ada Salter?

Ada Salter was a pioneering social reformer, changing politics and equality over her years as the first female councillor in Bermondsey and the very first female mayor in London, as well as beautifying the district, now part of the borough of Southwark.

Ada, a proud environmentalist, was born in Northamptonshire. She moved to London in 1896 where she set about beautifying Bermondsey, transforming the area by planting 9,000 trees (read more about the trees planted during Elephant Park’s development here), as well as community playgrounds, window boxes and encouraging sports and music in the local parks.

Not only did Ada give herself to her community by making it look more pleasant, but during World War I, she devoted her time to peace work. By the end of the war, she was representing the British section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Ada became the first female Mayor of London, and the first Labour female mayor in Britain, just a few of the incredible achievements she made during in her lifetime. Her husband Alfred spent his time also helping the community, and in 1922, was elected as an MP – what a local power couple!

Ada and her family moved to Balham, where she died at the age of 76, after the Salter’s home, and much of the surrounding area they had put years of energy and passion into improving, were destroyed during WW2.

Ada and her great successes are widely celebrated in Bermondsey even to this day, with locals from Northamptonshire in 2016, including the mayor, travelling to London to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Ada’s birth.

As a memorial to Ada, she not only has a garden named after her in Southwark Park, but placed on the riverfront are statues of herself, her husband, their eight-year-old daughter, Joyce, who passed away from scarlet fever in 1910, and their cat.

Ada Salter’s hard work and great achievements will be remembered in years to come thanks to the loyal communities of Southwark and her hometown Raunds, with events celebrating Ada and her family still running to this day in 2019.

Raunds is opening its own Ada Salter Garden, which the mayor of Southwark and other local residents are invited to come and celebrate on 11 August. The two mayors will officially open the garden, with local Bermondsey historian Graham Taylor invited to speak about Ada’s life, after previously writing her biography.