Panel 8: Suffragettes in Surrey: Militancy Continues

Click on the image to see a larger copy of the original exhibition panel.

By 1913 the suffragettes had stepped up their militancy from window-breaking to more extreme tactics such as arson and explosions. In Surrey, race courses, railway stations, cricket clubs, and golf courses were targeted. In that year alone Surrey Constabulary dealt with three suffragette bombs.

Emmeline Pankhurst, c.1910 (The Women’s Library collection, LSE Library ref 7JCC/O/02/090)

On the morning of 19 February 1913 a bomb exploded at the weekend golfing retreat being built for the Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George at Walton-on-the-Hill. There were no casualties as none of the workmen were on site but around £500 worth of damage was caused (nearly £55,000 in today’s money). Those responsible for planting the device were never identified. However copies of The Suffragette newspaper were found at the scene and Emmeline Pankhurst had spoken locally. Emmeline was arrested by the Dorking Division police and imprisoned for procuring and inciting women to commit offences contrary to the Malicious Injuries to Property Act, 1861.

Extract from Surrey Constabulary papers relating to the arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst (SHC ref CC98/11/3)

WSPU Hunger-strike medal presented to Elsie Duval. The enamel bars represent periods of force feeding (The Women’s Library collection, LSE Library ref 7HFD/D/21)

In the early hours of 20 March 1913 an empty house in Englefield Green, belonging to Lady White was nearly totally destroyed by arson. Elsie Duval and Olive Beamish were later convicted and sentenced to six weeks in Holloway Prison where both women immediately began hunger strike. Under increasing pressure to resolve the situation while not letting a hunger-striking suffragette die in prison the government rushed through the Prisoners’ Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health Act. More commonly known as The ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act, this allowed for a prisoner’s release when they were weak and re-imprisonment when they had recovered. Elsie was the first person to be released under the Act.

Surrey Constabulary papers relating to the bombing of Oxted Railway Station (SHC ref CC98/11/2)

During the night of 3 April 1913, a bomb exploded the gentlemen’s toilet at Oxted station causing minor damage. The police report names the identity of the suspects but the case was never solved. As a result of this incident all railway stations and tunnels were patrolled to prevent further attacks. Years later, Frida Kerry, wife of Harold Laski, a known activist and friend of the Pethick Lawrences, admitted responsibility for the bomb.

Panel 1 – The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote

Panel 2 – The Growth of the Suffrage Movement in Surrey

Panel 3 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Peaceful Protest

Panel 4 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Long Road to the Vote

Panel 5 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Great Pilgrimage

Panel 6 – Leading Suffrage Supporters in Surrey: Peaceful vs Militant

Panel 7 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Early Activism

Panel 9 – Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice

Panel 10 – The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey

Panel 11 – Anti-Suffragists in Surrey: Active Women in the Community

Panel 12 – The March is Over: Women get the Vote!

Click here to read more about The March of the Women project

Click here to read The March of the Women blog

Explore more about Surrey’s road to votes for women and the county’s role in the national women’s suffrage campaign

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