7 Mar 2020 - 3 minutes

Local Birmingham women who have made an impact on the world

Brm hero

Discover just a few of thousands of incredible women born and breed in Birmingham who have made a real impact on our world.

Uncertain beginnings

A thin strip of land next to Deansgate Locks just 761 sqm in size, the site which would become AXIS presented unique architectural, design, engineering and development challenges from day one. If you’re wondering how a 28-storey tower can be built on such a tiny piece of land, you aren’t alone.

In theory, this was the ideal city centre location, minutes from Piccadilly, Castlefield, St Peter’s Square and Spinningfields. However, the small footprint and changing market meant that nobody quite knew what to do with it – until Alliance came along.

Dame Elizabeth Cadbury

Dame Elizabeth Cadbury was a philanthropist and wife of George Cadbury, the famed chocolate manufacturer. Dame Elizabeth and her husband played a significant role in the development of Bournville and in 1909 she opened the Woodland Hospital, which later became the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. She also built The Beeches which provide holidays for slum children. Throughout her life she campaigned for the education and welfare of women as a suffragist— a truly impressive women, using her privilege to support incredible causes.

Lisa Cobhan

Lisa Lyttelton, Dowager Viscountess Cobham is the first British woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world. On her thirty-eight foot yacht, called Spirit of Birmingham, Clayton survived the 31,000-mile (50,000 km) journey despite capsizing seven times. Her vessel was named after her beloved home city and the university which contributed over £40,000 and expertise to make it possible for Clayton to realise her dream. On 1 October 1996, Clayton was recognised as an Honorary Freeman of the City of Birmingham.

Mary Lee Woods

Mary Lee Woods was an English mathematician and computer scientist who worked in a team that developed programs in the Department of Computer Science, University of Manchester Mark 1, Ferranti Mark 1 and Mark 1 Star computers. Mary is the mother of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web. On joining the UK electrical engineering and equipment firm, Ferranti, she started working in a group led by Dr John Makepeace Bennett. At Ferranti, Mary led a successful campaign for equal pay for male and female programmers, almost two decades before the Equal Pay Act came into force. As a young mother in the mid-1950s she set up on her own as a home-based software consultant, making her one of the world's first freelance programmers.

Julie Walters

Actress Julie Walters, was born in Edgbaston and is a national treasure. She has won two BAFTA Film Awards, four BAFTA TV Awards and received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2014. Known for her roles in Educating Rita, Billy Elliot, Prick Up Your Ears, Buster, Stepping Out, Calendar Girls, Mamma Mia! and of course as the adored character Molly Weasley in Harry Potter.

Kit de Waal

Mandy Theresa O'Loughlin, known professionally as Kit de Waal, is an incredible British writer. Her debut novel, My Name Is Leon, was published by Penguin Books in June 2016. After securing the publishing deal with Penguin, De Waal used some of her advances to set up the Kit de Waal Creative Writing Fellowship to help improve working-class representation in the arts.

Denise Lewis

Denise Lewis, OBE is a British female sports presenter and former track and field athlete, who specialised in the heptathlon. A true Birmingham icon inspiring young girls to gain a real interest in athletics. Denise won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was twice Commonwealth Games champion, was the 1998 European Champion and won World Championships silver medals in 1997 and 1999. Lewis was honoured as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2001 New Year Honours.

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