The Women's Suffrage Pilgrimage 1913

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Suffragette pillar-box firings and window-smashing are dramatic components of the serious debate about the vote in Edwardian Britain.

Amongst the political turmoil created by the militant suffragettes of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) promoted a constitutional mode of agitation, including the Women’s Suffrage Pilgrimage.

The nationwide Women’s Suffrage Pilgrimage marched through the West Midlands, including the Potteries, and carried a message to secure the vote to London. The NUWSS contingent that set out from Carlisle on 14 June 1913, later joined by suffragists from Manchester, marched through the industrial heartland of the region, and visited the poorly unionised and under-represented women of the Potteries, that ‘Hell with the lid off ’.

The idea for a mass public demonstration was first proposed at a meeting of the Executive Committee in April 1913. It would pass through and involve all of the Federations across England and conclude at a large meeting in London.  Travelling the length of the country with neither hammers nor pyrotechnics, talking to people  directly without misrepresentation from the press, the pilgrims would demonstrate and encourage a nationwide demand for women’s enfranchisement.

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