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Bristol Times Bristol Post, Celebrating our proud history and keeping your memories alive

Transcript of Bristol Times Bristol Post 17 September 2013

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    Celebrating our proud history and keeping your memories alive


    Volume 2 F ro mexile in Twerton tothe Rovers retur n

    Page 5 Have youheard any goodGromit legends?

    Page 4

    Page 8 So, Marion,whats for dinner?

    The Bristol Suffragetteswho fought fire with fireBy the autumn of1913, womencampaigning forthe right to vote hadput up with years ofviolence andrepression fromstreet thugs and thestate alike. But nowthey had had enough,and were fighting firewith fire l i t e r a l l y.And as Eugene Byrneexplains, Bristolwas one of the maincentres of militantSuffragette activity

    THERE is a tendency toregard the years imme-diately before theFirst World War as amythical golden age,an endless summerof innocence when

    people took tea on the lawn andhad no idea of the horrors toc o m e.In truth, it was a time of great

    anger and political instability.Britain had been taught what

    Kipling called no end of a les-son in the Boer War. Trade Uni-ons were becoming organisedand more powerful, agitatingagainst the appalling conditions theworking classes lived under. TheUnited Kingdom itself was underthreat from the independence move-ment in Ireland, and a Unionist com-munity that was equally militant,and had the overt support of severalarmy officers.And then there were the suffra-

    gettes. These were not upper classladies in big hats making the oc-casional nuisance of themselves inthe struggle for votes for women.One hundred years ago, by the au-tumn of 1913, the suffragette cam-paign was bitter, angry andviolent.

    In the year before the out-break of War, Bristol experi-enced destruction on a scalewhich dwarfed any politicalrioting or terrorist attack thecity has seen ever seen since.And it was all carried out bywo m e n .Bristol, with a long history of

    activism and social reform bywomen, had been one of the earlycradles of the womens suffragem ove m e n t .Many Bristol women had cam-

    paigned for the Married WomensProperty Act of 1874, for instance. Until

    The Eastville boathouse burned by Suffragettes Picture courtesy of Bristol Record Office

    Turn to page 2

    Annie Kenney,photographed

    at about the timeshe was working

    in Bristol

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    2 Tu e s d a y, September 17, 2013 3Tu e s d a y, September 17, 2013w w w. w w w.

    Suffragettesfound plenty ofsupporters inthe Bristol area

    then, a married womans propertybelonged, in the eyes of the law, to herhusband. Others were active in lob-bying against the Contagious Dis-eases Acts, under which womencould be arrested, forcibly examinedand confined if they were suspectedof prostitution.The Bristol & Clifton branch of the

    National Society for Womens Suf-frage had been formed in 1868.Until the late Victorian period,

    though, the majority of these femaleactivists were from wealthy back-grounds, with the time, educationand money to get involved in socialrefor m.This was now beginning to change.

    With the rise of trade unions and theLabour movement, women frommore modest homes were also be-coming politically active.The National Union of Womens

    Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) wasfounded by Millicent Fawcett, whobrought together various other cam-paign groups in the late 1890s. Themore militant Womens Social &Political Union (WSPU) was formedby Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903.In 1907 one of her lieutenants,

    Annie Kenney, arrived to set up aBristol branch. Kenney, p i c t u re dbelow, was a remarkable woman, andthe most senior figure in the move-ment to have come from a workingclass background.Born in Yorkshire to a family with

    nine siblings, she had worked in acotton mill from the age of ten. Shebecame a trade union organiser andeducated herself at night despiteworking 12-hour shifts. Shejoined the WSPU after at-tending a meeting ad-dressed by ChristabelPankhurst (one ofEmmelines daugh-ters) in 1905.In Bristol, she

    found plenty ofsupporters. Two ofher earliest helperswere the Quaker sis-ters Anna Maria andMary Priestman, bothnow in their 70s and vet-eran campaigners for womensr i g h t s.Other supporters included Mary

    Blathwayt and her parents Emily andColonel Linley Blathwayt, whoowned Eagle House in Batheaston. Athis suggestion, suffrage campaignerswho stayed at the House should eachplant a tree as part of what becamecalled Annies Arboretum.The WSPUs Bristol branch grew

    rapidly. By 1909 they had a shop andoffices at no. 37 Queens Road. Theyheld fundraising drives, chalked slo-gans on pavements and held open airpublic meetings in places on theHorsefair or Blackboy Hill as well as

    in surrounding towns like Portis-head, Clevedon and Weston-super-M a re.These were not always, or even

    usually, genteel affairs. Public meet-ings were heckled and harassed bymen who didnt like the idea ofwomen getting the vote, or by menwho were simply looking to stir uptrouble. Speakers were pelted withrocks, vegetables and rotten bana-n a s.There were some decent chaps, of

    course; a big meeting on the Downs in1908 where the speakers were Em-meline and Christabel Pankhurstand Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

    Bitter and violent | The fight for womens rights

    he was heckled by Elsie Howey andVera Holme who had evaded themeetings security by sneaking inhours previously and hiding in thehalls organ.Astonishingly, the same thing

    happened in 1912 when the NationalLeague for Opposing Womens Suf-frage yes, there was indeed such anorganisation! held a rally at theColston Hall. Despite even tighter

    security than ever, the speeches byHobhouse and the novelist MrsHumphry Ward, were heckled fromthe organ loft.When Winston Churchill (then a

    Liberal) visited in November 1909 hewas struck by Theresa Garnett atTemple Meads. Take that youbr ute, she said as she hit him (ortried to hit him accounts differ)with a dog-whip. Votes for women!

    was engaged in a massive campaignof destruction. Across the country,telephone wires were cut, post boxesand works of art were vandalised,sports pavilions were set alight. Thegovernment responded with arrestsand the WSPU was banned from hold-ing meetings and its newspaper pro-hibited from publishing.Things were fairly quiet in Bristol

    until the autumn of 1913. Then, onOctober 23, the Bristol University

    EDITH Garrud (1872-1971) is one ofthe greatest unsung heroines of thewo m e ns suffrage movement.Though she has no Bristol con-

    nections at all, she was born in Bath,so we can tentatively claim her assort-of local.She grew up in Wales and married

    William Garrud a gym instructor in1893 and the couple moved to London.Here they became the first teachers ofthe Japanese martial art of jujutsu,with Edith taking charge of classesfor women and children.In 1908 she started teaching classes

    for members of the womens suffrage

    Suffrage movement | Amusement of the press

    Martial arts instructorhelped prevent arrests

    movement and later went on to traina 30-strong elite corps Amazons,the papers called them known as theBody Guard.The Body Guards role was to pro-

    tect prominent suffragette membersand speakers to prevent them frombeing arrested.Edith Garrud trained them at

    secret locations in unarmed combatand in the use of Indian clubs. Usingguile and their new fighting skills,these ladies succeeded in preventingthe arrest of fellow suffragettes on anumber of occasions, to the evidentamusement of the press.

    Matters took an increasingly uglyturn as meetings in London weredisrupted by thugs, who would attackand sexually assault suffragettes.Finally, following one meeting, a

    couple of women had had enough andthrew stones through the windows of10 Downing Street.Stone-throwing quickly became a

    WSPU tactic. These women were, ofcourse, arrested and given short pris-on sentences where they went onhunger strike.Prison authorities responded by

    force-feeding them. This was a pain-ful and distressing process. A rubbertube was inserted into stomachthrough the mouth, or sometimes viathe nose and food in liquid form waspoured down. It happened in gaolsaround the country, including Bris-tols own Horfield prison.As far as the WSPU was concerned,

    this amounted to state-sponsored tor-ture of political prisoners.After attempts to find an acceptable

    political compromise in Parliamentfailed, the WSPU increased thestakes. By the end of 1912 the WSPU

    sports pavilion at Coombe Dingle wasburnt down and suffragette literat-ure was found nearby, along with anote demanding the release fromprison of a suffragette who had beenarrested in London.Two days later the students exacted

    revenge by marching on the WSPUshop in Queens Road.At 5pm a crowd of about 300 stu-

    dents trashed the place. Making a pileof books, newspapers and leaflets in

    Burned outBristol Universitysports pavilion. Thework of wildwomen, accordingto the Daily Mirror,26 October 1913University ofBristol Library,Special Collections

    (who had grown up in Bristol andWeston) was set to be disrupted bymen, but they were seen off by agroup of fine, athletic-looking fel-l ow s wearing the WSPUs green,white and purple colours.On another occasion, the WSPU

    hired half a dozen professional box-ers to protect a meeting at the Vic-toria Rooms.Bristol was a particular target for

    suffrage campaigners because of itsfour MPs, three were Liberals, and

    the Liberal Party was then inpower. Of these three MPs,two were cabinet min-i s t e r s.

    One was AugustineBirrell (1850-1933) themember for NorthBristol, and ChiefSecretary for Irelandat the time. The otherwas Sir Charles Hob-house (1862-1941), rep-

    resenting East Bristoland a particularly out-

    spoken opponent of votes forwo m e n .

    One of the curious i