Women's Social and Political Union: Huddersfield Branch

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 had stayed in town whilst campaigning against the Liberal candidate during the Huddersfield by-election. She returned 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][3]

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[4]. The branch's first secretary was Edith Key.

In August 1907, the branch began holding regular "At Home" events[5] — these were informal meetings with refreshments that were open to non-members.[6]

Huddersfield Daily Examiner (26/Apr/1907)

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.[7] Her companion Lettice Floyd[8] also moved to the area to join her and had taken up the post of honourable secretary by January 1912.[9] 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.[10]

Minute Books

Edith Key's minute book of the Huddersfield branch for the period May 1907 to February 1909 has survived and is held by West Yorkshire Archive Service.[11]


The following undated lists are recorded in Edith Key's minute book.[12]

Committee Members

name (as recorded) address biographical details
Mrs Key (Hon. Secretary) Regent Place, Bradford Road, Huddersfield Edith Ann Key (1872-1937) née Proctor
Mrs W. Brook (Hon. Treasurer) Market Street, Paddock
Mrs Pogson (Literature Secretary) 50 Lowergate, Longwood
Mrs Haigh 28 Bentley Street, Lockwood
Mrs Lodge 1 Springdale Place, Crosland Street, Crosland Moor
Mrs Shakeshaft Prospect House, Outcote Bank Harriet Shakeshaft (1858-1940) née Richardson
Mrs Sykes 5 Springdale Street, Thornton Lodge Annie Maria Sykes (1867-?) née Jepson
Mrs Scott 48 Grove Street, Huddersfield
Mrs Thewlis 29 Hawthorne Terrace, Calton Street Eliza Elizabeth Thewlis (1860-1930) née Taylor

Ordinary Members

name (as recorded) address biographical details
Mrs Bates West End, Newsome
Miss Beevers 12 Charles Street, Crosland Moor Ellen Beever (1848-1913)[13]
Mrs Black
Mrs Walter Brook 21 Thistle Street Mary Brook (c.1859-?) née Taylor
Miss Brooke West End, Wooldale, Thongsbridge Gertrude Ellen Brook (1885-1970)
Mrs Burton 54 Swan Lane, Lockwood
Mrs Crawshaw Whitacre Street, Deighton Emily Crawshaw (c.1857-?)
Miss Dawson 5 Station Lane, Berry Brow
Miss L. A. Dawson 5 Station Lane, Berry Brow Lydia Ann Dawson (1868-1938)
Mrs Dransfield 100 Hillhouse Lane Mary Dransfield (c.1883-?)
Mrs Fleetwood 102 Hillhouse Lane
Mrs France 19 May Street, Crosland Moor Emily France (c.1863-1954) née Wordsworth
Mrs Willie France 52 Rock Chapel Road, Berry Brow Lucretia France (1869-1954) née Charlesworth
Mrs Hadyn 6 Spencer's Yard, Hillhouse Lane Clara Ann Hadin (1863-1939) née Moore
Mrs Amelia Haigh Town Gate, Newsome Amelia Haigh (c.1879-?)
Miss E. Haigh 28 Bentley Street, Lockwood possibly Elizabeth Haigh (c.1852-?)[14]
Mrs Hall 9 Leeds Road
Mrs Hall 11 Hill Top, Paddock Hannah Hill (1882-?) née Copley
Mrs Hellawell 7 Springfield Place, Swan Lane, Lockwood Lily Hellawell (1875-?) née Townsend
Mrs Hickman 21 New Street, Paddock Annie Hickman (1873-1960) née Atkinson
Mrs Highley Rock Terrace, West Street, Lindley Ellen Highley (1848-1929) née Dennison
Mrs Hirst Casson Buildings, Manchester Road, Milnsbridge
Mrs Hobson 14 Trevelyan Street, Moldgreen Mary Jane Hobson (c.1881-?) née Hanson
Miss Annie Hopson Moor End, Lockwood Annie Hopson (1881-?)
Mrs. Horrocks Oxford Place, Swan Lane, Lockwood
Mrs Jackman Morley Lane, Milnsbridge
Mrs Lee 15 Moors Yard, South Parade possibly Mary Lee (c.1864-?)
Miss Livesey 116 Moor End
Mrs Joe Livingstone Birch Road, Berry Brow Sarah Fearnside Livingstone (1879-1962) née Wood
Miss Lodge 8 Springfield Place, Swan Lane, Lockwood
Miss Lowenthal The Grange, Edgerton Bertha Susan Löwenthal (1856-1920)
Miss Marsden 30 Charles Street, Crosland Moor
Miss Mellor 69 Swan Lane, Lockwood
Mrs Mellor Morley Lane, Milnsbridge
Mrs Morton 107 Yews Hill Road
Mrs Morton Moor End House, Moor End Road Sarah Jane Morton (c1872-?) née Taylor
Mrs Mosley 20 Cherry Nook Road, Deighton Annie Elizabeth Mosley (c.1851-1918)
Mrs Pinnance Royds Hall, Paddock Elizabeth Ann Pinnance (1879-1959) née Shaw
Mrs Roberts Cliffe Terrace, Cliff End, Longwood
Miss Rhodes Crosland Road, Oakes Probably Clara Rhodes (1855-1933) née Beaumont[15]
Miss E. Rhodes Crosland Road, Oakes Probably Emily Jane Rhodes (1885-1959)[16]
Mrs Smith Bank Terrace, Outcote Bank[17] Probably Sarah Elizabeth Smith (c.1865-1923) née King[18]
Miss Smith Bank Terrace, Outcote Bank[17] Probably Ellen Smith (1888-?)[19]
Mrs Spivy 94a Hillhouse Lane possibly Selina M. Spivy (c.1847-1910?)
Mrs Stead 114 West End, Newsome
Miss G. Swallows 21 Daisy Street, St. Andrews Road Annie Gertrude Horrocks (c.1887-?) née Swallow
Miss Sykes 6 Primitive Street Ann Sykes (1870-1942?)[20]
Miss Dora Thewlis 29 Hawthorn Terrace, Calton Street Dora Thewlis (1890-1976)
Mrs Wagstaff 24 Bentley Street, Lockwood Laura Wagstaff (c.1861-?)[21]
Miss A. Williams 89 Moor End Road, Lockwood Alice Williams (1880-?)
Mrs Wilson 3 Cross Cottages, Marsh

If you are able to help provide details for any of the members, please get in touch!

Further Reading


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Notes and References

  1. Wikipedia: Emmeline Pankhurst.
  2. "The Women Suffragists in Huddersfield" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (19/Dec/1906).
  3. Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote (2006) by Jill Liddington, pages 115-116.
  4. Wikipedia: Nellie Martel
  5. "Huddersfield" in Votes for Women (20/Aug/1908).
  6. 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.
  7. "Halifax and Huddersfield" in Votes for Women (08/Sep/1911).
  8. Wikipedia: Lettice Floyd.
  9. "Halifax and Huddersfield" in Votes for Women (17/Nov/1911) and Votes for Women (19/Jan/1912).
  10. The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 (2003) by Elizabeth Crawford.
  11. West Yorkshire Archive Service (reference: WYAS225).
  12. The name spellings in the first column are as recorded by Key.
  13. Aunt of branch member Miss Sykes of 6 Primitive Street.
  14. Unmarried and listed at 45 Bentley Street in the 1901 Census.
  15. Wife of farmer Alfred Rhodes who is listed on Crosland Road in the 1900 Directory.
  16. Daughter of farmer Alfred Rhodes and his wife Clara of Lindley.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Bank Terrace appears to have been a row of properties on the eastern side of Outcote Bank near to the junction with South Parade.
  18. Born Keighley, wife of railway employee Tom Harry Smith. They lived on Outcote Bank in the early 1900s. She died 1 February 1923.
  19. Born 11 December 1888, daughter of the above Sarah Elizabeth Smith and railway employee Tom Harry Smith. Ellen married Wilfred Dale in June 1907. Possible death index entries in the Huddersfield area for 1945 & 1961.
  20. Born 28 October 1870, Holmfirth, daughter of John Sykes & Mary Beever, she worked as a rug weaver. The Sykes' are recorded at 6 Primitive Street in the 1901 & 1911 Censuses. She seemingly never married and is recorded at that address in the 1937 Directory & 1939 Register. Probably died Q3 1942 Huddersfield. Her aunt was branch member Ellen Beever.
  21. Wife of woollen weaver Sam Wagstaff. She died prior to the 1911 Census.