In the late 19th and 20th century, women’s choices widened. In the early years, women were wives (17 on the Strand in 1901), sisters, unmarried daughters, women of private means (12 in 1901), companions and servants (17 in 1901). The part of the Strand from The Lighter to the post box was more working class: one woman who lived here was a publican and coal merchant, another ran a small general shop and a third was a lacemaker. For middle class women, education was a way of earning a living – by setting up schools in the family home, giving private lessons or going away to teach. Middle class women engaged in voluntary and philanthropic work, and often supported the church. WWI offered opportunities for women to nurse and take on management roles. As women campaigned and won the vote, other doors opened as JPs, solicitors and architects. There is an international colonial theme with connections with Nigeria, New Zealand, and a thriving imperial youth organisation.
Produced by Topsham History Group in 2021, this leaflet, printed on card, takes you on a short walk along Topsham’s Strand visiting 12 properties which identify where some prominent 19th and 20th century women have lived.