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Minnie Pallister - Local History Group talk at AGM

BEXHILL was the adoptive home of a lady now largely forgotten but in her day a household name through her 1950s contributions to the BBC Light Programme’s Woman’s Hour.

Ill-health robbed Minnie Pallister of a Parliamentary career, Local History Group   researcher David Hatherell told the annual meeting on October 4th.

His informative, amusing and sometimes moving illustrated talk had a surprise ending.

Born in Wales in 1885 the daughter of a Methodist Minister, Minnie Pallister was acutely aware of industrial and social conditions. By 1914 she was president of the Monmouthshire Federation of the Independent Labour Party. In 1915 she attended the ILP national conference as assistant to Keir Hardy.

Aghast that international solidarity had not prevented the carnage of the Great War, the life-long pacifist was prominent in the Women’s Peace Crusade and the No Conscription Fellowship.

She was a highly-regarded political orator.

Post-war, she contested three elections and seemed set for a high-flying Parliamentary career when hit by ill-health. A Harley Street specialist recommended total rest and that she “became a cabbage for a year” – prompting the title of the book she wrote after stepping down from political life.

Minnie’s connection with Bexhill began when she joined her pharmacist sister, Gladys. She lived with her over the Old Town Surgery, then at 4 High Street, revelling in the area’s village-like charm, devoting herself to gardening and plunging into local voluntary work such as Moral Rearmament.

Minnie Pallister’s work was now largely forgotten but to a previous generation she was well-known as a regular contributor to BBC radio’s Women’s Hour in the 1950s her work covering a broad range of subjects.

The talk was illustrated with portraits of Minnie and artwork from Minnie Pallister’s book by Sheila Stuart Robertson, including the back garden of 4 High Street.

Amid laughter, David Hatherell said that comedian Spike Milligan who was stationed in the town in 1940-41 had revealed in an Observer interview years later that Minnie Pallister was the inspiration for his ‘Fifties Goon Show character Minnie Bannister.

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