Suffragette leader's visit sparked angry scenes in Littleport

Suffragette leader's visit sparked angry scenes in Littleport

The Littleport Public Hall was besieged by an angry mob during a visit by Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst to the village in 1910.

As celebrations start to commemorate the centenary of some British women being granted the vote, Spotted in Ely looks back on an unlikely visit to the Fen village.

The hall was completely rammed during Mrs Davidson’s visit, with anti-Suffragette demonstrators trying to disrupt the meeting, according to an article published in the Cambridge Independent Press on December 9, 1910.
“The hall was besieged by a large crowd, and as soon as the doors were opened, there was such a rush of people that the building was packed in a very short time.”

Emmeline Pankhurst

Once the doors were locked, a “considerable crowd” gathered outside, with some trying to drown out Mrs Pankhurst’s speech.
“Some behaved in a disorderly way, kicking and knocking the doors unmercifully.”
No stranger to controversy and outrage, the women’s rights activist continued regardless.
“Mrs Pankhurst gave an eloquent and forceful address, although hailed at times with cheers and hisses, she successfully dealt with every attempt at interruption that occurred,” according to the Cambridge Independent Press report.
Anti-Suffragette postcards were popular at the time.

Born as Emmeline Goulden in 1858, Mrs Pankhurst went on to found the Women’s Franchise League in 1889, which campaigned to give women the vote in local elections.
In 1903 she helped found the Women’s Social and Political Union, which gained notoriety for encouraging civil disobedience.
It was during such an act that fellow Suffragette Emily Davison was famously killed after throwing herself under King George V’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby in protest at the government’s continued refusal to grant women the vote.
Mrs Pankhurst was herself arrested on numerous occasions and went on hunger strike in prison, being violently force fed.
Anti-Suffragette postcards were popular at the time.

In 1918 the Representation of the People Act gave women over 30 with property rights the vote.
Mrs Pankhurst died on June 14, 1928.
The following month, all British women over 21 were granted the right to vote.

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