26 May 2022

University of Sheffield hosts blue plaque for Peak District campaigner Ethel Haythornthwaite

The University of Sheffield has become home to a new blue heritage plaque to commemorate the life of one of Sheffield and the Peak District’s leading environmentalists and most influential women.

A photo of a group of people stood next to the newly unveiled blue heritage plaque for Ethel Haythornthwaite

The University of Sheffield has become home to a new blue heritage plaque to commemorate the life of one of Sheffield and the Peak District’s leading environmentalists and most influential women.

Ethel Haythornthwaite MBE was a key figure in establishing the Peak District as the UK’s first national park.

She also played a leading role in achieving green belt status for Sheffield’s “golden frame” countryside, and paved the way for the public purchase of lots of the much-loved countryside including the Blacka Moor and Longshaw moorland estates.

She was the founding force in setting up what is now the CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire (CPRE PDSY) branch, described by Sir Chris Bonington as “the pace-setter and model for local environmental organisations in every part of the country to follow”. 

Ethel Haythornthwaite was born in 1894 at Endcliffe Vale House. The house stood in the grounds of what is now the University of Sheffield’s Endcliffe Student Village, where the new blue heritage plaque has been installed to commemorate Ethel’s life.

The plaque was cast by the Leander Architectural foundry at Dove Holes on the edge of the Peak District and is mounted on a local gritstone boulder donated by Andrew Vickers, the Sheffield sculptor also known as Stoneface.

It was unveiled by Dame Fiona Reynolds CBE, the CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire branch president, and an honorary graduate of the University of Sheffield.

A photo showing  Dame Fiona Reynolds CBE unveiling the blue heritage plaque

CPRE PDSY chief executive Tomo Thompson said: “The CPRE branch is delighted to have worked closely with the University to achieve this beautiful and fitting recognition of Ethel’s achievements.

“The plaque stands on tree-lined grassland at the heart of the beautiful student village and faces towards the Peak District countryside that she did so much to champion and protect.

“Ethel and her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Haythornthwaite, became a formidable partnership in the early UK environmental movement.

“Although Ethel’s Endcliffe Vale House birthplace no longer exists, her marital home (22a on Endcliffe Crescent) became the offices of the charity when the House was demolished, and the Stables behind 22a were the charity offices from 1955 to 2012.

“The associations between the University and the charity run deep, Sir Henry Hadow, the then Vice Chancellor of the University, was appointed president of the charity at its inaugural meeting on 7 May 1924 in Endcliffe Vale House. Both organisations share Ethel Haythornthwaite’s passion for sustainable environmental policy. We are deeply grateful to the University for helping us to remember Ethel with this beautiful plaque.”

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The University is honoured to host a heritage plaque to commemorate Ethel's achievements. 

“Sheffield is very lucky to have the Peak District on its doorstep.  It brings tremendous benefits to the health and wellbeing of our city’s residents and it is a unique asset that helps to attract visitors and students to our region. 

“We are delighted to celebrate the long-lasting legacy of Ethel’s work.”

A photo of the new blue heritage plaque

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