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Celebrating Invisible Women – August

Mathilda Kessler

Matilda Kessler (1919-1990)

This strong minded, popular pillar of our community came from a family with a background in law so it is no surprise that Matilda herself had a robust attitude to social and community issues becoming a co- founder of Milton Keynes CAB which was originally set up in Bletchley in 1971.

Nor is it any surprise that later on she became a Magistrate on the Fenny Stratford Bench in 1968. This was back in the good old days when there was no Central Milton Keynes Magistrates Court but instead 3 courts covering the whole town.

She studied at LSE in the 1930s and during the war years divided her time between supporting the East End evacuation in London and her growing family based in Stoke Hammond. She was also influential in the WRVS.

As a new young town with a constant influx of people wanting to move to what they envisaged would provide a better future, Matilda was at the forefront of helping the town adjust to these new changes to what had really been a series of rural communities prior to the 1960s.

Her book The Story of the Magistrates Courts in Milton Keynes tracks the local justice arrangements from as far back as the 15th century onwards.

In the 1970s in what was a radical move for the times she chaired multi agency meetings to promote collaboration between agencies. She also chaired the Milton Keynes Conciliation Service during this period. She was an early co-opted member of the OU Council, invited by Lord Perry, the first Vice-Chancellor. Serving from 1974-1985 she chaired several committees including the Staff Facilities Committee and was especially proud of the establishment of a creche!

A significant force for change and innovation in the early days of Milton

Keynes Matilda Kessler died in October 1990. To read more about click here to go to Milton Keynes Living Archive