Women from across the city took part in a march today to celebrate the centenary of some women being given the opportunity to vote for the first time in the UK.
The 100 Metre March, each metre representing a year of women being able to cast a ballot, involved women from politics, business, academia and charities. It was followed by a short gathering at Elliott Terrace to speak with others about the value of women using their vote, supporting the Electoral Commission’s #Vote100 campaign.
Councillor Sue Dann, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene, she said: “100 years ago today millions of women voted in a general election for the first time. Not every woman mind, only those over 30 and those with property, but still, this was a huge step and something that opened up opportunities for all of us here.
“We are here not only to celebrate the amazing achievements of women in this city, but to encourage more women of all ages to take part in democracy and use their right to vote.”
Centenary celebrations will continue over the next year, with other key democratic moments being marked.
Suffrage in Plymouth
Many know about Plymouth’s strong links to women’s democracy, mostly famously for Nancy Astor, the first female MP to take her seat in parliament, being elected in the city. But did you know that Suffragettes campaigned heavily here? In 1913 they even planted a bomb at foot of Smeaton’s Tower with “Votes for women, death in ten minutes” painted on the bomb.
Suffragettes also cut telephone lines and painted graffiti on the Hoe in a demonstration against Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiral, coming to inspect the fleet in Plymouth Sound.
Emmeline Pankhurst was arrested in Plymouth Sound aboard the Majestic cruise liner and taken to Exeter prison. 5,000 Suffragettes from across the country had gathered at the dockyard to welcome her return, some of whom boarded a tug to try and assist Mrs Pankhurst. Police use battleships to evade the tug.
Here’s just a few Plymouth women who made their mark in history
- Dr Mabel Leida Ramsay, secretary of the Three Towns and District Branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. As well as serving as a doctor in Belgium, she recruited suffrage women from North Hill for war work. She also started the first women’s Soroptimists group here
- Jacquetta Marshall, born in 1878, she became Plymouth’s first Lord Mayor
- Malvina Henrietta Julia Borchardt, Headmistress of Devonport High School for Girls in the 1880s, she later opened a hostel for women students in London
- Alison Vickers, Garland Art Teacher, Lecturer and writer sat on the Executive Committee of the Union of Practical Suffragists. She was the first woman to address the Indian National Congress in 1899 and was part of the Forward Suffrage Union deputation to Asquith and Lloyd George
- Selina Frances Latimer, President of the Devon Union of the Women’s Liberal Association and involved with the custody and care of female prisoners at Plymouth Police Station
- Beatrice Mary Crowe Broadcaster, lecturer and manufacturer active in the suffrage movement before the First World War, a member of the Conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise Association. During the First World War she was a nurse – but also set up a Ladies Rifle Club here. She was one of the first women in the local police force.