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History


girl and trade unionist from Lancashire, had already been in prison three times. She settled in 23 Gordon Road, opening


a WSPU shop and office at 37 Queen’s Road. The shop sold suffragette goods, such as tea sets, cigarettes, scarves, badges, chocolate and soap packaged in the suffragette colours – purple, white and green – as well as books and magazines. Annie quickly recruited volunteers to


help her. One of them was Theresa Garnett from Leeds. Theresa stayed just around the corner from Annie, at 5 York Terrace, and it was from here that she set off for Temple Meads on Saturday 13 November to meet Liberal MP Winston Churchill off the Paddington train. Churchill had come to give a speech in


the Colston Hall that evening. Theresa broke through his police escort and lunged at him with a whip crying, “Take that you brute!” She was sentenced to a month in Horfield Prison, where she went on hunger strike and was forcibly fed. The day before Churchill arrived another Clifton resident, Nurse Pitman of Southleigh Road, was arrested for breaking the windows at the Post Office in Small Street. Another Clifton woman, Lillian Dove Willcox, took over as organiser of the Bristol WSPU when Annie Kenney left in 1911. Mrs Dove Willcox, a widow, went to


Mrs Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (far left, standing next to Sylvia Pankhurst) ©The Museum of London


campaigner took up residence in Clifton – the suffragette. In 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The WSPU decided that the time for petitions was over, and they used militant methods to try and force the Government to give women the vote. They heckled MPs, campaigned against


Government candidates in by-elections, demonstrated in Parliament Square and broke windows in Government buildings. When the Government still remained opposed to votes for women, suffragettes began attacking private as well as public property with window-smashing raids, arson and bombing campaigns. In 1907 Mrs Pankhurst sent Annie


Kenney to Bristol to establish a local branch of the WSPU. Annie, a former mill


Holloway in 1909 for breaking windows at the Home Office. After her release she and Theresa Garnett were re-arrested and charged with assaulting two wardresses. They were sent back to prison and went on hunger strike. In 1912 Mrs Dove Willcox was thrown out of the Colston Hall for interrupting an anti-suffrage meeting, and in October 1913 she was arrested in London when she tried to puncture the tyres of a cab carrying Annie Kenney to prison. Perhaps the best-known of the Clifton


suffragettes was Emmeline Pethick- Lawrence, who was born at 20 Charlotte Street, and spent part of her childhood in Apsley Road. She was the WSPU’s Treasurer between 1906 and 1912, and her organisational and fund-raising skills helped the WSPU grow into a national organisation with an annual turnover of thousands of pounds. It was Mrs Pethick- Lawrence who introduced the suffragette colours, and she also founded the newspaper, Votes for Women. She endured six imprisonments and was forcibly fed once, in 1912. Queen’s Road was the scene of spectacular disturbances in 1913. On 23 October suffragettes burned down the


(left to right) Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst; Annie Kenney in her mill-girl dress, both © The Museum of London


University of Bristol’s Sports Pavilion at Coombe Dingle. On 24 October 200 male students took their revenge on the WSPU shop. They smashed the windows, broke down the door, threw office furniture out of the upstairs window, and lit a bonfire in the street with suffragette books, papers and merchandise. The next day the students went back to


finish the job. They wrecked what little remained, tried to light another bonfire, and painted out the ‘Votes for Women’ sign and replaced it with ‘Varsity’. The students hoped that the attack


would put a stop to suffragette militancy in the city, but were disappointed. Only two weeks later, a Frenchay mansion was destroyed by fire, and in early December a house at Stoke Hill was gutted. By April 1914 the Eastville Park boathouse, a timber yard and the clubhouse at Failand golf links had all burned down. The WSPU halted its militant campaign


on the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, and the Government released all suffragette prisoners from jail. The shop on Queen’s Road was closed and the city prepared for war. Women did not get the vote until 1918,


when less than half were enfranchised. Full equality came in 1928 with the Equal Franchise Act. In the drawing rooms and streets of Clifton, militant and non-militant campaigners had played their part in the struggle to win votes for women. CL


The Bristol Suffragettes by Lucienne Boyce is published by SilverWood Books at £11.99


www.mediaclash.co.uk Clifton Life 51


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