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‘Welcome’ to the Suffragettes!

1912

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The Great Pilgrimage was a march in Britain by suffragists campaigning non-violently for women's suffrage, organised by the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).  The march finished at Hyde Park in London and women (50 000 of them) came from all around England and Wales. When the Great Pilgrimage reached Peterborough in November 1912 their welcome was not very warm! The suffragettes had planned a meeting in the Stanley Recreation Ground, even though the Chief Constable of the City had advised them to hire a hall; his advice proved wise as the meeting was stormed by young men who threw eggs and did not allow anyone to speak. The suffragettes were chased back to their headquarters at the Bedford Hotel. Mrs Fordham of Fletton Avenue, the honorary secretary of the Peterborough Branch of the Women's Social and Political Union was quoted in the Peterborough Advertiser of 16 November 2012 saying, " I am thoroughly ashamed of Peterborough boys. It was not full grown and sensible citizens who rushed our meeting, threw rotten eggs and endangered life; it was not the college boys either, but two or three hundred schoolboys of about fourteen years of age. And these are the young hopefuls who are to be given a voice in the government of their imperial motherland, so soon as they reach the mature age of twenty one, while women, however educated, sensible, wise, sedate, however wealthy in property, however hard they have to work for their living in factory, shop and home, are denied that elemental right of citizenship".





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Suffragettes Plant a ‘Bomb’

1913

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On Monday 21 April 1913 Mr William Cowling of New Fletton discovered a brown paper parcel under the Oundle Road Railway Bridge. On the parcel was a pasted label saying, 'Votes for Women. Handle With Care. Votes For Women', there was also a Sufferage Society badge pinned on it. Mr Cowling, unsurprisingly, handed it into the police! When it was opened it was found to contain a square tin box with a hole in the lid with a wick protruding. Inside the box were partially burned bits of brown paper and pieces of brick, sugar and sawdust. This was harmless (unlike some suffragette acts in other areas) but it did alarm the authorities that such an item could be placed under an important railway bridge with such ease and without exciting suspicion. The perpetrator was never caught.





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