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Mary Ellen WhiteleggMember of the Women’s Police Service
Information supplied through Research Project led by Nigel Crompton.
Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by): Mary Ellen Whitelegg
Date and Place of Birth: 3 April 1882, Farnworth, Bolton, Lancashire
Date and Place of Death: 15 June 1960, The Wardens Nursing Home, Kingsland, Herefordshire
Childhood: 5 siblings – 3 brothers and 2 sisters.
Parents: James & Mary (nee Roddie)
Parent’s occupations: N/K
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: N/K
Occupation: Worker in Bleach Works
Place of residence at Gretna: Women’s Police Barracks No1, Gretna
Job title at Gretna: Police Constable.
Marital status: Married Bernard Baldwin.
Children: None Known.
Trivia / any other information:
Born in April 1882, Mary had five siblings. The family originally lived in Farnworth, south of Bolton, Lancashire. It is not known when or why the family moved to Whitefield but it was due to work. That area of Lancashire had many cotton mills, dyers and chemical works. Mary’s parents had both passed away by the 1911 census and there was only her sister Martha living with her in 59 Moss Lane. Mary was employed in a bleach works; there were a number locally. Martha died in 1912.
The first indication of Mary’s service at Gretna is her name appearing on the valuation roll, living in Barracks No1.
By January 1918, Mary has begun working for Oxfordshire Constabulary. In June 1919, she moved to become the first female police officer employed in Ramsgate Borough Police in Kent. However shortly after the 1921 census, Mary resigned due to her marriage to Sergeant Bernard Baldwin, a fellow officer in Ramsgate.
Their wedding proved to be quite a news story, with a number of nationals carrying an article with the Daily Mirror providing readers with a photograph of the happy couple.
Bernard had served in the army during the war, receiving a commission in the Military Police. He was promoted to Inspector in the Ramsgate force before retiring. Mary and Bernard moved to Hailsham in Sussex. He died in 1955. Mary moved to a nursinghome near her brother Albert. He was a gent’s outfitter, living with his second wife Phyllis in Herefordshire.
Mary passed away on 15 June 1960 at The Wardens Nursing Home, Kingsland, Herefordshire. Whilst no longer a nursing home, the building survives.
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