Joan Maynard, Sowerby 1921 – 1998

Joan Maynard MP 1921 -1998

Sowerby, North Yorkshire 



There is a plaque to Joan Maynard MP at her former Sowerby home — known as Lansbury House – in North Yorkshire. She died there aged 76 in 1998 and seven years later her close friend, Labour MP Chris Mullin, unveiled the plaque. 

Maynard’s passion for politics was inherited from her father, Matt, who named his house after life long socialist George Lansbury, the Labour Party leader from 1931 to 1935. 

During WWII, Joan received less for delivering the post than the postman who was called up for active service. It was her first experience of unequal pay for women. She got involved in politics during the 1945 General Election at which Labour secured a handsome majority. 

There was at the time no Thirsk Labour Party and Joan thus established a local branch and became its first secretary. She joined the agricultural workers’ union, being appointed Yorkshire County secretary in 1954. In between, her political career had been forged, winning seats on the district council and county council. She became Sheffield Brightside MP in 1974. She served for 13 years. 

At Westminster she became a notable rebel, supporting controversial causes, such as the Troops Out Movement that campaigned for British withdrawal from Northern Ireland and United Ireland. As a champion of the rural poor, she used her position in Parliament to fight for an end to the power of farmers and rural landholders to evict farm labourers under tied cottage legislation. She was central to the passing of the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976. 

Many thanks to Dr. Claire Tupling for this photograph. @TupsTweets

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