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The windswept memorial on 29th November

Commemorating Ellen Strange

Ellen Strange Broadley was not the first victim of domestic violence – or the last. Bolton Trades Council is making sure she is remembered, writes Mark Metcalf.

Trade unionists and domestic violence campaigners in the North West held a special event on 29th November at what is thought to be the oldest site in the world to commemorate a victim of domestic violence. The date was chosen because it comes within the Domestic Violence Awareness Fortnight and is close to 25th November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Ellen Strange Broadley was murdered by her husband, John Broadley, on Holcombe Moor near Ramsbottom in January 1761. Ellen’s family and neighbours raised a pile of stones (a cairn) in her memory, which was called “Ellen Strange” on the first Ordnance Survey map drawn up in 1844-47.

John and Ellen Broadley were a poor couple who led an itinerant life. Before her wedding, Ellen lived at Ash Farm in Hawkshaw with her parents. It appears that Ellen was making her way to the family home when Broadley murdered her shortly after midnight. The couple had been seen together at a nearby local pub in the hours before Ellen died.

Since 1761, the practice of adding stones to the Ellen Strange cairn has continued. A wreath-laying ceremony was held on 29th November . The event will reaffirm the need to continue challenging domestic violence, which results in two women a week in the UK being killed by their partners or ex-partners.

John Simpson published his Ellen Strange – a moorland murder mystery explained in 1989 under the auspices of the Helmshore Local History Society, and a new edition of this booklet will be launched on 29th November.

For more information on the event or to donate, contact Bolton Trades Union Council c/o Martin McMulkin on 07918-839 327 or mmcmulkin@hotmail.com or Mark Metcalf on 07952-801 783. A Facebook page has been set up on which we will post further details as they are finalised: https://www.facebook.com/groups/626311717498888/

You can see a video of the event on 29th November:

This article first appeared in Labour Briefing.



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