Lady Eleanor Keane
Person Female Born 1875 Died 1960
Pioneer in youth work. Born Eleanor Lucy Hicks-Beach, eldest daughter of 1st Earl St Aldwyn. On Valentine's day 1907, just 2 months before laying the foundation stone, she married the Irishman Sir John Keane (1873 -1956) and went on to have 1 son and 3 daughters. At the same period she was Chair of the St Mary’s Girls' Club Building Sub-Committee responsible for the 1907 building in Union Street. That Wikipedia link has a photo which may show Eleanor but since it claims to show two of Sir John's sons we don't trust it!
From Sisterhood or Surveillance? She was President of the National Council of Girls' Clubs and present at a 1937 international rally of physical culture in Hamburg ("Strength Through Joy"). Our photo comes from that document and is captioned "Girls' club members at a physical culture rally, Hamburg, 1938" so it seems possible that the lady in the dark suit behind the second row might be Lady Eleanor. Otherwise we refer you to the 3 photographic portraits of her with her 3 sisters (1923-31) held by the National Portrait Gallery, which, as we type, are "not currently available".
Her 12 December 1960 Times obituary doesn’t give many facts but makes it clear she was an important figure over a long period of time.
The plaque refers to 'our sisters': Eleanor had 3 sisters and perhaps her husband also had sisters, but that we cannot discover. Perhaps it was a nod to the suffrage movement? We think it probably just refers to the girls who belonged to the girls' club which used the building.