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Exhibition celebrating suffragettes in Loughborough.

AN EXHIBITION celebrating suffragettes in Loughborough is being launched on February 6. This year the country is celebrating the centenary of the Royal Assent to the Representation of the People Act, 6th February 1918. The Act abolished all property qualifications for men and gave the vote to women over 30 who met certain property qualifications, but we had to wait until 1928 for full universal suffrage.

The Loughborough electorate was 15,593 in 1915 and grew to 32,240 in 1918. The first General Election held under the new rules was in December 1918, with the women's turnout reported as 'good.'.

The right for women to vote was hard won over many years of campaigning.

In Loughborough, a strong grass-roots movement developed, with meetings supporting a woman's right to vote recorded such as the National Society for Women's Suffrage meeting, 1875, at Loughborough Town Hall.

Questions about women's suffrage were put to the Conservative and Liberal candidates in the 1906 election; the Liberal Maurice Levy was elected but his tactics in Parliament defeated women's suffrage.

This encouraged the Women's Social and Political Union to target Loughborough during the 1910 election, as part of a campaign in 40 seats nationally.

They met with unruly crowds at open-air public meetings in Loughborough Market Place and the Bull Ring in Shepshed.

Emmeline Pankhurst spoke at Loughborough Town Hall.

After the 1910 election, Parliament passed a compromise on women's suffrage, but Prime Minister Asquith blocked its progress. More meetings were held, with unruly and violent crowds confronting the speakers.

In 1913 the council barred the use of the Town Hall for Suffrage meetings.

The year of the Asquith refusal saw the only reported act of violence by Suffragettes in Loughborough, when the oak staircase of the Red House in Burton Walks (now part of the Endowed Schools) was fired, but it did not spread to the rest of the property.

All this and more is celebrated at the exhibition at Loughborough Museum and Library, running from the afternoon of February 6, to March 24.


Suffragettes, in the centre is Emmeline Pankhurst, circa 1913. Photograph Manchester Evening News

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Publication:Loughborough Echo (Loughborough, England)
Date:Jan 31, 2018
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