Suffragettes100: East London campaigners honoured with Parliament Square statue
- Credit: Caroline Teo/GLA
The names of some of east London’s lesser-known campaigners in the suffrage movement have been included on a statue marking the centenary of the Representation of the People Act.
The statue, which depicts Millicent Fawcett, has been deisgned by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing and will be unveiled in Parliament Square in the spring.
Inscribed on the statue’s plinth will be the names and faces of 59 men and women who campaigned for women’s suffrage, striking a balance between the famous faces and those who feature less in the history books, but whose roles are no less important.
Among the names on the statue are Minnie Baldock, who lived in West Ham and fought against low pay in the area, holding a public meeting alongside Keir Hardie MP about the issue in 1903.
A member of the Independent Labour Party, she established the Canning Town branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1906 to attract more women to the cause.
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She was arrested during an demonstration outside the House of Commons in 1908 and spent a month in Holloway Prison.
Minnie continued to work for the WSPU until 1911, when she became seriously ill, and in 1913 she and her husband Harry, with whom she had two sons, moved to Southampton. She later moved to Hamworthy in Dorset and died in 1954.
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She is joined on the list by her fellow east London activist, Julia Scurr, who was a prominent campaigner on behalf of women working in the East End.
Born in Limehouse in 1871, she organised a large demonstration against unemployment in 1905, and subsequently met the prime minister, Arthur Balfour.
She was elected to the Poplar Board of Guardians in 1907, representing the Labour party.
Julia initially joined Sylvia Pankhurst’s East London Federation of Suffragettes, but in 1914 switched to the new United Suffragists, being elected as one of its vice-presidents.
In 1919, Julia was elected to Poplar Borough Council and served as mayor during 1923/24.
She went on to become elected as Mile End’s representative on the London County Council in 1925, but resigned the following year and died in April 1927.
Also included are Minnie Lansbury and her father-in-law George.
Minnie was born in Stepney in 1889 to a Jewish family that had fled poverty and persecution in London. Her father, Isaac Glassman, was not able to vote until 1913, when he paid the £5 fee to become a British citizen.
The year after, Minnie married Edgar Lansbury, whose father George Lansbury had served as Bow and Bromley MP between 1910 and 1912.
Minnie, a teacher, became involved in the National Union of Teachers, calling for equal pay for women. She also joined the East London Federation of the Suffragettes and played a key role in their central committee.
She was elected alderman on Poplar Council after the First Wold War, and in 1921 was one of five women to be jailed for refusing to charge full rates from their poor constituents.
She died in 1922 aged just 32, with thousands of mourners turning out to line the streets on the day of her funeral.
George Lansbury, who had lost his seat in a by-election after resigning to contest it on the issue of women’s suffrage, continued to campaign for women’s rights.
He was re-elected as Bow and Bromley MP in 1922, remaining in the position until his death in 1940. Between 1932 and 1935, he served as Labour party leader and leader of the opposition.
The men and women on the plinth
Louisa Garrett Anderson
Dame Margery Irene Corbett Ashby
Lady Frances Balfour
Rosa May Billinghurst
Ada Nield Chew
Frances Power Cobbe
Emily Wilding Davison
Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy
Margaret Haig, Viscountess Rhondda
Rev Claude Hinscliff
Priscilla Bright McLaren
Catherine Courtauld Osler
Agnes Maude Royden
Maud Lady Selborne
Sophia Duleep Singh