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Emma Cons

Person  Female  Born 4/3/1838  Died 24/7/1912

Social reformer and theatre manager. Born London. Knew and was influenced by Octavia Hill, John Ruskin and Henrietta Barnett. Her involvement in the temperance movement led to her taking on the lease of the Royal Victoria Theatre (where alcohol was sold) and reopening it as the Royal Victoria Hall And Coffee Tavern (where it was not), on 27 December 1880. From 1882 the premises were also used for adult education - weekly penny lectures which were very popular. The 'Old Vic' as it was known, struggled financially and in 1884 the philanthropist Samuel Morley provided the funds necessary to keep it going. Other donations from various sources enabled the freehold to be purchased in 1891.

In 1889 she extended the adult education into evening classes and thus founded the first part-time educational institution for working men and women in south London. She named this Morley Memorial College after Samuel Morley who had died in 1886. Cons, together with Caroline Martineau and Lucy Cavendish decided that the college would be staffed entirely by women. This had the desired effect of encouraging women to attend as students.

Some of the first classes were held in rooms under the stage but in the 1920s the college moved to its present site on Westminster Bridge Road.

She established the South London Dwellings Company and managed Surrey Lodge on Lambeth Road (home to more than 600 people). She was the first woman alderman to sit on the LCC, and fought to allow women to serve as local councillors.

Cons was also involved in many causes including Women's suffrage and Armenian refugees. Aunt to Lilian Baylis who took over the management of the Old Vic. Died at a friend's home in Kent. The W1 plaque's birth year disagrees with the ODNB.

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Emma Cons

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Emma Cons - Old Vic

Our thanks to our deciphering-of-difficult-to-read-inscriptions consultant, J...

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Emma Cons - W1

Cons was not herself wealthy so it seems odd to describe her as a philanthrop...

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Morley mosaics - WBR - Emma Cons

Emma Cons, born 1838. Emma was a politician, suffragette, educationalist,busi...

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