Ganley, Caroline Selena (1879-1966) co-operative movement activist and politician
ADMINSTRATIVE/BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY: Caroline Selena Ganley was born in September 1879 at East Stonehouse, Plymouth,
the daughter of James Blumfield and his wife, Selina Mary (née Norgrove). Her
father was a bombardier at the time of her birth, and later a tailor. She attended
Plymouth church and national schools, and Ottershaw School, Chertsey. In July
1901 she married James William Henry Ganley, a tailor's cutter; the couple lived
in Westminster before settling in Battersea, and raised two sons and a daughter.
Mrs Ganley became active in left-wing politics in opposition to the Second South
African War, and in response to the poor social conditions of the working-class
communities in which she lived. She joined the Social Democratic Federation in
1906, campaigned for the suffrage, and was instrumental in setting up a socialist
women's circle in Battersea and developing it into a branch of the Women's Labour
League (later the Labour Party women's sections). In 1914 she was involved in
the British committee of the International Congress, anti-war suffragists who
detached themselves from the more patriotic National Union of Women's Suffrage
Societies to work with European women for peace.
After the war, she continued to campaign for citizenship rights. She joined the
Co-operative and Labour parties, and in November 1919 won a seat on Battersea
borough council; she chaired the health committee, and it was mainly through her
efforts that a well-equipped maternity home was opened in Battersea in 1921. In
1920 she became one of the first women magistrates in London, and for twenty years
sat in juvenile courts. She also served as a London county councillor and as a
member of the London county education committee.
In the 1930s Mrs Ganley sought nomination as a Co-operative Party candidate.
In 1935 she stood unsuccessfully for Paddington North but in 1945 she was elected
Co-operative-Labour MP for Battersea South. In 1950 she held the seat but in the
1951 general election she was defeated. Mrs Ganley was appointed CBE in 1953,
and in the same year was re-elected to Battersea borough council where she continued
to serve until 1965.
Ganley was also widely active within the co-operative movement and was an elected
director of the West London Society from 1918, and after its merger with the London
Society in 1921, of the London Co-operative Society, which position she retained
until 1946. In 1942 she became the first woman president of the London Co-operative
Society. She also belonged to the Lavender Hill branch of the Women's Co-operative
Guild and held a number of official positions in the guild's national committee
structure including a place on the south-eastern sectional council. In June 1943
she was honoured by the guild as one of the speakers at its diamond jubilee demonstration
at the Royal Albert Hall. Mrs Ganley died in London at the Bolingbroke Hospital,
Battersea, in August 1966, aged eighty-six.
SCOPE AND CONTENT:
- Typescript autobiography, c1955
- Miscellaneous papers concerning her career and work, including desk diary and
miscellaneous papers and correspondence, 1916-1966
EXTENT: 1 box