Papers of Baroness Lockwood

Scope and Content

Material relating to Baroness Lockwood's work with the EOC forms a significant part of the archive. This includes strategic plans, correspondence, reports, speeches, and press coverage. The collection contains many other speeches and articles by Baroness Lockwood, personal documents such as certificates, many photographs, and records relating to her involvement with the University of Bradford, the House of Lords, and her interest in education.

Administrative / Biographical History

Betty Lockwood was the youngest in a family of three, born in the mining and textile town of Dewsbury in West Yorkshire on 22 January 1924. Her father was a miner until 1929, an occupation he left, following victimisation, to become a small businessman. When the business failed in the mid 1930s he became employed in the building trade. Her mother and elder sister were weavers in the wool textile industry. Betty's school and early working years were severely interrupted by periodic absences following an accident in early childhood. The amputation of her right leg at the age of 18 and the fitting of an artificial limb then enabled her to enjoy her otherwise robust health and lead an active life. She left school at 14 and her first job was in a women's fashion shop. After four years during which she studied at night school and was active in wartime civic youth groups she transferred to secretarial work in the electricity department of the local authority. In 1946 she won the Mary MacArthur Scholarship for Working Women which took her to Ruskin College, Oxford. She joined the Labour Party in 1942. In 1948 she became Assistant Labour Party Agent in Reading; in 1950 Agent in Gillingham, Kent, and in 1952 was appointed Yorkshire Regional Women's Officer of the Labour Party. In this capacity she was involved with the organisation and political education of women. Her responsibilities in the Labour Party led to a deep involvement in equal opportunities. She was Secretary to the National Labour Women's Advisory Committee and the National Joint Committee of Working Women's Organisations, representing these bodies on many national forums. She was a leading member of the campaign for the 1970 Equal Pay Act and for the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act. In 1975 she was invited by Roy Jenkins, then Home Secretary, to set up the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) which she chaired from 1975 to 1983. The EOC was constituted under Part VI of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. It was set up as an independent statutory body. The Act listed the duties of the Commissioners as follows: "(a) to work towards the elimination of discrimination, (b) to promote equality of opportunity between men and women generally, and (c) to keep under review the working of this Act and the Equal Pay Act 1970 and, when they are so required by the Secretary of State or otherwise think it necessary, draw up and submit to the Secretary of State proposals for amending them." On 1 October 2007 the EOC merged with the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission to form the new Equality and Human Rights Commission. As National Woman Officer of the Labour Party Betty Lockwood represented the Party on the International Council for Social Democratic Women (the Women's Committee of the Socialist International) from 1967 to 1975, and became its Vice Chairman. In this capacity she was involved in international conferences, seminars, and study visits to many countries. Betty Lockwood joined the House of Lords in 1978. Her activities included membership of its Select Committee on the European Community and chairing of its sub committee on social and consumer affairs from 1990 to 1993. She was made a Deputy Speaker in 1990. She has served on the Select Committees on Science & Technology and on European Affairs. She was active in a number of all-party parliamentary groups including the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee, the Parliamentary University Group, the Population and Reproductive Health Group, and the Arts & Heritage Group. Throughout her membership of the House of Lords she continued to speak on issues related to equality of the sexes. She retired from the House of Lords in 2017 under the House of Lords Reform Act 2014 (this allowed members to retire or resign, previously constitutionally impossible). Betty Lockwood has served as a member of the Department of Employment's Advisory Committee on Women's Employment; the Government's Energy Conservation Committee; the Bradford Area Board of the Regional Manpower Services Committee; the Advertising Standards Authority; and the Leeds Development Corporation. She was Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire in1987. Conscious of her own lack of formal education, Betty Lockwood sought to widen participation by women and girls in education. Witness her connection with Hillcroft College, a 'second chance' adult education college for women: she was a member of its Council from 1970 and in 1987 became its President. She also took an active role in supporting higher education. In 1983 she joined the Council of Bradford University, becoming a Pro-Chancellor in 1987, Chairman of Council in 1992, and Chancellor in 1997. She has also been President of Birkbeck College (1983-1986), a member of Council at Leeds University (1985-1991), and Deputy President of University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) (1991-1995). In recognition of her work in education, Betty Lockwood received honorary degrees from the University of Bradford (1981), the University of Strathclyde (1985), UMIST (1986), Birkbeck College (1987), Leeds Metropolitan University (1999), and the University of Edinburgh (2004).


Items have been kept in files as received. The original order within files has been maintained wherever it could be ascertained.

Access Information

Available to researchers, by appointment. Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation. This Archive includes items containing personal data, to which access is restricted under the Data Protection Act pending further cataloguing. This will be carried out in response to user demand so individuals are encouraged to inform Special Collections of their interest in this material.

Acquisition Information

Material donated to Special Collections by Baroness Lockwood in 2014 and 2016.


The information in the Biographical History is derived from Baroness Lockwood's Curriculum Vitae (reference 7/1), The Sex Discrimination Act 1975, and relevant websites (Parliamentary, university and organisational). This catalogue is 'interim'; it is published as part of our 'First Sort' programme which aims to put basic information about new archives into the public domain as quickly as possible. We will refine and enrich it in response to user demand.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Some documents have been affected by plastic folders attaching to and 'lifting' text. These folders have been removed.

Archivist's Note

Described by Alison Cullingford, using ISAD(G) 2, December 2017.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of Special Collections staff, subject to copyright law and the condition of the originals. Applications for permission to make published use of any material should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian in the first instance. Baroness Lockwood's rights in this material have been transferred to the University of Bradford to be managed by Special Collections. There are in addition many third-party copyrights in the archive. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This archive has been lightly appraised, removing blank paper and internal duplicates. It is likely that future appraisal will reveal further irrelevant material on detailed investigation.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

The Records of the Equal Opportunities Commission are held by The National Archives (references SH1-9). Baroness Lockwood's involvement with the University of Bradford is documented in its Archive (reference UNI CHANC).