Women's Social and Political Union: Huddersfield Branch

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The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) was the main militant organisation campaigning for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom during the early 1900s and was formed in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst.[1]

In November 1906, Pankhurst has stayed in town whilst campaigning against the Liberal candidate during the Huddersfield by-election. She return the following month to speak at an event held in Huddersfield Town Hall on 18 December and the Huddersfield branch of the was formed with around 50 women putting their names forward as members.[2]

1909 advert for Robinson's Café

The branch met for the first time in January 1907 at Robinson's Cafe, 12 John William Street, Huddersfield. The founder of the WSPU movement, Emmeline Pankhurst, attended the meeting, along with Nellie Martel[3]. The branch's first secretary was Edith Key.

In August 1907, the branch began holding regular "At Home" events[4] — these were informal meetings with refreshments that were open to non-members.[5]

Annie Williams, who had previously been a paid WSPU organiser in Newcastle, became the organiser of the Huddersfield and Halifax branches at the start of October 1911.[6] Her companion Lettice Floyd[7] also moved to the area to join her and had taken up the post of honourable secretary by January 1912.[8] Both women took part in militant activities in London, leading to imprisonment and force-feeding. By the summer of 1912, Williams and Lettice had relocated to Wales.[9]

Minute Books

Edith Key's minute books of the Huddersfield branch for the period May 1907 to February 1909 have survived and are held by West Yorkshire Archive Service.[10]

Further Reading


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Notes and References

  1. Wikipedia: Emmeline Pankhurst.
  2. Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote (2006) by Jill Liddington, pages 115-116.
  3. Wikipedia: Nellie Martel
  4. "Huddersfield" in Votes for Women (20/Aug/1908).
  5. According to The Militant Suffragette Movement in York (2007) by Krista Cowman, the "At Home" meetings were pioneered by Mary Gawthorpe at the Manchester WSPU branch.
  6. "Halifax and Huddersfield" in Votes for Women (08/Sep/1911).
  7. Wikipedia: Lettice Floyd.
  8. "Halifax and Huddersfield" in Votes for Women (17/Nov/1911) and Votes for Women (19/Jan/1912).
  9. The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 (2003) by Elizabeth Crawford.
  10. West Yorkshire Archive Service (reference: WYAS225).