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SUFFRAGE: Learn about our history

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I was delighted to see a whole page devoted to the centenary of women’s suffrage, including a biography of Emily Wilding Davison, our region’s most famous suffragette, (News Guardian, February 8).

But she wasn’t the only one by a long way.

There was Dr Ethel Williams, the first female doctor on Tyneside, who was also the first woman to drive a car here, much used in support of Votes for Women activity; and Connie Lewcock, who set fire to a railway building in Esh Wining and later became a Newcastle councillor.

Our very own Norah Balls was an active member of the local WSPU, three times arrested and subsequently a councillor in Tynemouth County Borough. A photograph of her modelling the suffragette costume can be found on the internet.

Women’s fight for the vote on equal terms with men took decades to achieve, and it wasn’t until 1928 that this was eventually accomplished.

However, the years before the First World War saw the Votes for Women campaign reach a crescendo of publicity because of the decision by the Women’s Social and Political Union to use direct action to achieve its aim.

Tyneside was a big focus for both suffragette and suffragist activity during this time. This is part of our collective history and we should all know more about it.

To this end North Tyneside Women’s Voices is holding two public meetings with a focus on suffrage activity on Tyneside.

Unsung Warriors Of The North East, with Val McGregor, takes place in Killingworth on February 27, and Hens That Want To Crow, with Liz O’Donnell, is in North Shields on March 8, both in the evening.

For more information check out our Facebook page, or contact me at premfry015@aol.com

Penny Remfry

North Tyneside Women’s Voices