Nottingham celebrates 100 years of votes for women – with a call for everyone to dig out suffragette items from their attics

Nottingham has marked the centenary of women being given the right to vote on 6 February 1918.

The Council House was lit up in purple, white and green – echoing the colours worn by suffragettes to advance their cause, as figures from local women’s organisations involved in Nottingham’s Centenary Cities project met to mark the anniversary.

Visitors to the Old Market Square can see the beautifully lit Council House until Sunday 11th February.

In December, along with six other UK cities, Nottingham was given a share of £1.2million by the Government to mark the anniversary of (some) women gaining the right to vote.

Nottingham City Council put in a winning bid to become one of the cities, based on the city’;s strong links to the suffragette movement.

The ‘Centenary Cities’ programme forms part of the Government’s wider plans to promote this pivotal moment in history, including the addition of the first female statue in Parliament Square – Millicent Fawcett – due to be unveiled in 2018.

The 100 year anniversary kicks off a programme of events celebrating Nottingham’s unique history of suffrage whilst also exploring what suffrage means in the city today. Local people are encouraged to get involved in the project, by:

  • Visiting the new Centenary Cities Nottingham website – to see what events are coming up in the city. Local groups can add their own events too – and funding grants are available from the Government’s Centenary Cities fund
  • Add a twibbon to their Twitter profile
  • Dig in the attic for suffragette items – the Centenary Cities team want to hear from anyone with family connections to suffragettes – whether they lived here in Nottingham or elsewhere. Anyone with items of interest including diaries, letters, sashes and badges is asked to share a picture and some information by email to centenarycities@nottinghamcity.gov.uk.

Cllr Linda Woodings, Executive Assistant for Communications and Community Safety, said: “I’m excited and proud that Nottingham’s celebrations of a century of women’s suffrage have kicked off with the Council House being lit up to mark the occasion.

“I hope lots of people in the city join us in celebrating the pioneering efforts of local women in achieving the vote – and encouraging young people, and especially women today, to register to vote and play an active role in politics.”

 

A short history of suffrage in Nottingham

By the early 1900s, women had been campaigning for the vote since the 1860s. Governments repeatedly promised women the vote, then went back on their word

April 1872 petition for women’s suffrage – More signatures were recorded from Nottingham than anywhere else in the country

December 1881 – Nottingham Branch of the National Women’s Suffrage Society NUWSS is reconstituted in the city

1907 – A Nottingham branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union WSPU is founded, calling on women to take direct action to advance the cause – including civil disobedience. The Nottingham leader, Helen Watts, was imprisoned twice

1910s – Large crowds gathered in the Market Place and on the Forest to hear suffragette and suffragist speakers.

February 1913 – Radical protests ramp up in Nottingham – black fluid was poured into post boxes across the city, followed by a wave of window smashing from Goldsmith Street to Sherwood ‘Votes for Women’ stickers were found at each incident

May 1913 – Suffragettes are responsible for the spectacular burning down of the Nottingham Boat Club on 12 May, watched by an eager crowd from the safety of Trent Bridge.

The first world war – Nottingham women go to work in transport, engineering, mills and factories for the war effort. In Chilwell,  the  ammunition factory was the country’s most productive shell filling factory with 10,000 workers. 134 people died in the 1 July 1918 explosion

1918 – Suffrage is awarded to women over 30 who owned property or were married to someone who owned property – and women are also now able to stand for parliament

1928 – Suffrage is extended to all women

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