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Suffragette March Photograph, 1913

  • Suffragette March

This still from a film reel captures the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies march from Carlisle to London on 18th June 1913. The women of the NUWSS marched to London to demonstrate to the government the strength of national support for women’s suffrage.  A series of ’pilgrimages’ to London were organised by Suffragette branches across the country. The North-Western Federation, the Manchester and District, the West Lancashire, West Cheshire and North Wales Federation, the West Midlands Federation, and the Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire Federation travelled on the Carlisle to London route. 50,000 women reached Hyde Park on 26th July 1913. On the banner it is just possible to see the name of Millicent Fawcett (1847-1929) who was the president of the NUWSS from 1890-1919.

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Supporters of women’s suffrage and emancipation formed Women’s Liberal Associations throughout Cumberland and the North of England. Catherine Marshall established a branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) in Keswick in 1908.

However a new form of militant suffrage had been formed by Miss Christabel Pankhurst in 1905.This movement was called The Women’s Social and Political Union and organised mass demonstrations, attempted to invade the House of Commons and chained themselves to railings in public places. Women were arrested after ugly scuffles with police. An acid bomb badly burned a train guard when he opened mail bags in Blackpool. Art works were damaged at the Manchester Art Gallery and the Rokeby Venus at the National Gallery was slashed with a razor. Militant suffragettes attacked the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey,  wrecked a glass house in Kew Gardens, the pier at Yarmouth and two railway stations. Those convicted of such events went on hunger strike. Forced feeding of prisoners caused outrage in the press. The Deputy Governor of Holloway Prison was then attacked with horse whips.

 Leading suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of the King's horse at the Epsom Derby race meeting in 1913. When war was declared the campaign for women’s suffrage and radical violence ended. Women threw themselves behind the war effort and a limited version of women’s suffrage was introduced in 1918. 

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Key facts: 
  • The suffragette movement was a campaign by women to be allowed to vote in political and national elections. This is called suffrage.
  • Women did not receive the vote until 1918, and even then, only women over 30, who met certain criteria for property ownership. At the 1918 General Election, 8.5 million women were eligible to vote for the first time.
  • In 1928, all women over 21 were also given the vote.

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