Following the hugely successful commemorations for Swindon pilot Harold Starr and the 75th year of the Battle of Britain commemorations, the Swindon Heritage team is marking the life of another forgotten hero from the town with walks, talks and events in advance of a new film called Suffragette starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep which is due for release in October.
From 1906 to 1911 Swindon born schoolteacher Edith New was at the forefront of the fight for female enfranchisement. A paid organiser working for the Women’s Social and Political Union, she was one of the advance guard of women who fought the Votes for Women campaign at every by-election in every town and city during the years up to 1914 when political agitation was suspended for the duration of World War I.
In February 1909 Edith spent several weeks in the Scottish border town of Hawick where the local press described her as ‘a lady of attractive personality, an eloquent speaker, and has the knack of keeping herself on the best of terms with her audiences.’
Find out more about this unsung hero who did so much for women by joining in with the programme of events:
Thursday 8 October, 7.15pm – illustrated talk by Frances Bevan at Swindon Central Library called ‘Swindon’s Suffragette Edith New: From North Street to Holloway Gaol’. Tickets £1.50 (library members) and £2 (non library members) available from Information Centre, Ground Floor, Central Library.
Saturday 17 October, 11am – guided walk around Old Town visiting places of significance in Edith’s Life. Meet at the Arts Centre, Devizes Road. The walk ends with tea and cake at Christ Church with a visit to some of Edith’s families’ graves.
Sunday 25 October, 11am – get the real suffragette experience with a costumed historical march and rally. Meet at the High Street entrance to Lawns Park in Old Town to march to Radnor Street Cemetery for a rally in the Chapel with rousing speeches from the period.
Frances Bevan of Swindon Heritage is keen to hear from anyone with a suffragette or suffragist in the family to contribute to a forthcoming exhibition.
With more events in the pipeline, including a children’s craft session making Votes for Women rosettes, posters and banners during the half term holiday.
Email Fran on SwindonSuffragette@gmail.com and follow the group on Twitter @SwinSuffragette.
The project is sponsored by AMCS Total Analytical Solutions
Pictured top, a women speaking out for universal suffrage at a meeting in Hawick in the early 20th Century. Below, Edith New, left, and a poster of those who will tell the story of women fighting for the vote