Page last updated at 20:42 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Liverpool's Kitty Wilkinson honoured with statue

Kitty Wilkinson's grave
Kitty Wilkinson was buried in the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral

A statue is to be erected in memory of a woman known as the Saint of the Slums, 150 years after her death.

Kitty Wilkinson is to be the first woman commemorated by a statue in Liverpool's St George's Hall.

She opened the first public wash house in the country on Upper Frederick Street in 1842 and cleaned thousands of clothes during the cholera epidemic.

Councillor Flo Clucas, who has campaigned to see a tribute, said: "We can all be inspired by her life."

The statue will be carved in Italian marble, will cost in the region of £150,000 and is being overseen by English Heritage.

Ms Wilkinson arrived destitute in Liverpool in 1794. She had set sail with her family from Derry in Ireland.

As they reached the shores of the city, their tiny boat floundered in the waves and her father and sister were swept away.

Kitty Wilkinson's story is one of unbelievable determination, courage and selflessness
Councillor Flo Clucas

Despite the tragedy, the Saint of the Slums went on to save hundreds, particularly through the cholera epidemic.

She pioneered the public wash house movement which gave poor people somewhere to clean their clothes.

Her wash houses lasted well into the 20th Century - the last one closed down a decade ago.

She died in 1860 and was buried in the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral.

Councillor Clucas added: "Kitty Wilkinson's story is one of unbelievable determination, courage and selflessness.

"In Liverpool's Year of Health and Wellbeing there could not be a finer person to be honoured.

"Through rising from abject poverty to achieve lasting reforms in public health Kitty Wilkinson is a real inspiration for every woman in this city."

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