Two of the remarkable Solicitors in Bristol’s legal history are sisters Angela and Joan Tuckett. Joan was the elder sister, born in 1895, whilst Angela was born in 1906. It was Angela who became the first female Solicitor admitted to practise in Bristol in 1929, whilst Joan qualified shortly after.
Although that fact in itself would mean that Angela in particular would have a place in history, the sisters’ lives outside the legal profession was extraordinary. Their aunt, Enid Stacy (1868-1903), had been active in progressive politics at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The sisters both became active in the Communist Party. In 1931, Angela actively supported the Welsh Hunger March and as a result joined the Communist Party and travelled the world widely in the 1930s. Angela also worked with Bristol’s unemployed during the 1930s. In 1940, Angela became head of the Legal Department of the National Council for Civil Liberties and in 1942 joined the Daily Worker newspaper as firstly a Solicitor and then a reporter and editor. She enjoyed writing enormously and from 1948 she worked for 30 years on Labour Monthly.
Whilst Joan was also a Solicitor, she too was enthusiastic for the written word and with Angela she wrote plays such as: `The Bulls see Red’, `Passing unnoticed’, `Smash and Grab’, `Aiden & Abetten’, and `Charity begins’. Both sisters were involved in the League of Progressive Writers and in theatrical production in Bristol’s Unity Theatre. Joan was the producer of the Bristol Unity Players’ Club, which was developed from workers’ amateur dramatics clubs which were active in the Bristol area in the early 1930s and brought together by Joan around 1936.
During the Second World War the club managed to continue putting on performances despite disruption due to air raids and casualties among the players. It was only after the war that the failing health of Joan Tuckett combined with a sharp decrease in membership led to the demise of the club in November 1946.
Both Joan and Angela were international hockey players and qualified pilots. Joan died in 1957. In 1962, Angela married Ike Gradwell, who was secretary of Swindon Communist Party, and Angela worked to build up membership in Swindon. She was often to be seen on the streets of Swindon busking to raise money for workers causes including the striking miners in the 1980s.
Angela who died in 1994 also participated in Folk Dance and Song, was a member of the William Morris Society and played the Concertina. Both sisters were extraordinary members of Bristol’s legal community.