Mabel Tylecote

Dame Mabel Tylecote DBE (née Phythian; 4 February 1896 – 31 January 1987) was a British Labour Party politician, activist, humanitarian, and educationist from Manchester, England.

Mabel Tylecote
Mabel Tylecote.jpg
Dame Mabel Tylecote in 1966
Born4 February 1896 Edit this on Wikidata
Crumpsall Edit this on Wikidata
Died31 January 1987 Edit this on Wikidata (aged 90)
Whalley Range Edit this on Wikidata
Alma mater
Political partyLabour Party Edit this on Wikidata
Spouse(s)Frank Edward Tylecote Edit this on Wikidata
  • Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1966)
  • Honorary doctor of the University of Manchester (1978) Edit this on Wikidata


Born on 4 February 1896 to John Ernest Phythian and Ada Crompton Prichard in Crumpsall, Manchester,[1] Mabel Phythian's father was a solicitor, member of Manchester City Council from 1892 to 1898.[1] In 1915, she attended the Victoria University of Manchester.[2] and she graduated in 1919.[1] After her studies, she taught history for a year in Wisconsin (1919-1920) then in England, at Huddersfield Technical College (1920-1924). She returned to Manchester, as a doctoral student and history assistant from 1926 to 1930, in the History department created in 1922, the Manchester School of History.[3] In 1930, she defended a doctoral thesis on adult education, which she published in 1957 under the title The Mechanics' Institutes of Lancashire and Yorkshire before 1851.[3] She published in 1940 The Education of Women at Manchester University 1883 to 1933 .[3] She left university in 1930 and was, from 1930 to 1932, a warden of the Elvington Settlement, a settlement provided for miners fields.[1]

In 1932, she married Frank Edward Tylecote, physician and professor of medicine at Manchester University from 1929 to 1940. F.E. Tylecote was an early researcher into the link between smoking and lung cancer, and served also as a City Councillor.[1] This was Frank's second marriage, following the death of his first wife; Mabel became stepmother to his son and daughter, and the couple later had a son also.[4] The family lived at Stockport.

She was on the (Manchester) Committee of the Free German League of Culture in Great Britain, founded by published by German and Austrian refugee organisations and supportive British groups, including Albert Einstein, the artist Oskar Kokoschka, writer Thomas Mann and actress Sybil Thorndike. The League had its own publishing company, Inside Nazi Germany, and a major artist, John Heartfield, producing most of its illustrative material.[citation needed]

Tylecote served as a Manchester City Councilor (1940-1951) and Stockport City Councilor (1956-1963), and stood as a Labour Parliamentary candidate at five parliamentary elections from 1938 to 1955, in Fylde, Middleton and Prestwich, and Norwich South.[1]

She remained very attached to Victoria University, but actively supported the former Mechanics' Institute (Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) since 1970), where she was a member of the council.[1] The MMU awarded her a life fellowship in 1973, and a building of the MMU bears her name.[1]

Tylecote was made a DBE in 1966.[5] She received an honorific degree from Victoria University of Manchester in 1978.[1]

Her husband died in 1965. Tylecote moved back to Manchester later in life. She died at her home, in Whalley Range, on 31 January 1987.[1]

Mabel Tylecote BuildingEdit

The Mabel Tylecote Building was a Manchester Metropolitan University building on the University's All Saints Campus. It housed teaching and learning space for the Department of Languages and the MMU School of Theatre as well as academic and administrative staff offices. This included the Capitol Theatre, a performance space for MMU theatre and acting students. It was also the location of the Manchester Philosophy Society offices, the Green Room Refectory, and an open-air walk-through art gallery.[6]

The building was opened by Manchester City Council in 1973 as a purpose-built adult education college. After the college closed in 1991, MMU (then Manchester Polytechnic) took over the building and renamed it in Tylecote's honour. The building was demolished in 2017.[6]

Personal papersEdit

Her personal papers are located at the John Rylands Library, Manchester.[7] They relate to her career in the Labour Party, Manchester local politics, and adult education. The collection comprises: general correspondence, both personal and official; letters of congratulation and condolence; files relating to particular topics such as adult education, by-elections and general elections, her career in Manchester politics and Mechanics' Institutes; Phythian family correspondence; letters to Lucile Keck of Chicago, from Tylecote and others; Sidebottom family correspondence, including earlier letters from A. J. Balfour (1888, 1893), John Bright (1848, 1864) and Richard Cobden (1864); personal diaries; and photograph albums. There is a collection of 67 watercolours and drawings of scenes from the First World War by her brother, Wilfrid Phythian.[7]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Robertson, A. B. (2004). "Tylecote [née Phythian], Dame Mabel (1896–1987), adult educationist". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/59254. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Williamson, Mary F.; Sharp, Tom, eds. (2011). Just a Larger Family: Letters of Marie Williamson from the Canadian Home Front, 1940–1944. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 357. ISBN 978-1-55458-322-5.
  3. ^ a b c "Our history, Historical research". School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Frank Edward Tylecote". Royal College of Physicians. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  5. ^ "John and his wife Joan Tylecote with his mother, Mabel Tylecote when she received the DBE in 1966". National Archives. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Manchester Metropolitan University - Mabel Tylecote Building". Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  7. ^ a b Dame Mabel Tylecote Papers; John Rylands Library, Manchester University. Retrieved 10 May 2021.

Further readingEdit