The Beauty of Saddleworth

“Strike a pose – Vogue” by Mark Sheppard

Delph, in Saddleworth is known to be the birthplace of the world‘s first supermodel or mannequin as they were originally known. On February 8th 1905, May Kenworthy was born at Beswicks, Delph, the daughter of Albert and Emma, who was a joiner by trade. 

In 1911, they were living at Garners, Delph, with a baby daughter named Doris Eileen. After leaving school, she worked in a local woolen mill as a winder. She later joined her mother who was now living in Manchester and became a member of a pantomime company as a chorus girl.

She later went to live in London, after being photographed for a series of posters, whose commodity was world-famous. While at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre, she was approached by Selfridges, and was asked to model for the department store. It was here she would model dresses for famous clients. 

She was first married in 1926, which was a disaster, so she moved to Paris, where she worked at a salon on the Champs-Elysees, modelling french frocks and hats. It was here she mixed with the aristocracy, having some years earlier changed her name to Gloria and was inundated with over a thousand marriage proposals. 

She once said that her descendants the Kenworthy’s had lived in Delph for centuries. Gloria as she was then known even had a model of a car named after her. She eventually married three times and was one of London’s best – known mannequins. It was estimated that she had been photographed over 500,000 times in her short career, and it was claimed that her pictures had appeared in more publications than those of any other girl in the world. 

Early on Thursday, November 6th police broke into her flat in London, where she also ran a model agency and found her lifeless body. It was believed she had died four days previously, and her death was attributed to an overdose of sleeping tablets (barbiturate). At the time of her death, Gloria still kept with pride 400 photographs of herself. However, in Delph she would be remembered as the ‘Beauty of Saddleworth’ who became an international sensation.

Another supermodel of more recent years is Jerry Hall whose great grandmother was born in Saddleworth. She was christened Martha Ann Standeven, and although her father was from Springhead, Saddleworth, Martha Ann later lived at Austerlands near the Three Crowns Inn, and then the ‘Royal Tiger.’

She married James Hall at Oldham Parish Church in April 1877 and went to live at 18, Waverley Street, Oldham. (Jerry Hall visited here in the programme ‘Who do you think you are’). 

James Hall embarked for the USA sailing from Liverpool to New Orleans alone with one suitcase on board the ship the ‘St Louis’ arriving there on the 4th October 1881. He then travelled and settled in Texas. His wife left the following year with their 2 young children Clara and James, 3rd class from Liverpool on board the ‘Nova Scotia’ arriving in Baltimore on the 14th October, later arriving in Texas to join her husband there. Sadly, Martha Ann died soon after, but her legacy lives on, in the fact that Jerry is proud of her ancestry, and more so of her connection with Saddleworth.

 

 

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