The smashing of windows in the Newcastle Liberal Club by suffragettes

Event date(s)

8 October 1909

Description/importance

On 9 October 1909 four women were sent to jail for breaking three plate glass windows in Newcastle Liberal Club. This action was prompted by Lloyd George’s visit to Newcastle upon Tyne to speak at the Palace Theatre in Haymarket (tickets were marked 'not to be sold to a woman'). Lloyd George was currently the Chancellor, and the women were militant suffragettes who were protesting against his inaction on this issue. As one of the defendants said: ‘I am not in the habit of going about breaking windows for fun. I did it because Lloyd George was coming, and he said three months ago that it was an intolerable act of oppression to deny women the right to vote’. Newcastle had an active branch of the more militant wing of the movement for the vote: the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU.) Earlier in 1909 they had disrupted Winston Churchill’s visit to Newcastle. Due to the lack of progress on the vote, the suffragettes adopted more militant tactics and, as a result, from early 1913 in the North East, there were a number of attacks on property. This included cutting telephone and telegraph wires and a bombing campaign, during which the Post Office in Newcastle was bombed. The aim of this campaign was to attack property so that those who owned it would pressure the government into removing the cause of the destruction of their property. Or, as the card left beside the burnt-out Heaton Bowling Club Pavilion in 1913 put it: ‘No peace until women get the vote’.

[Thanks to Patricia Stevens for the corrections to previous inaccuracies in this entry]

Location/map point

Address

98 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle
Tyne and Wear
NE16SQ

Further reading

D. Neville, To Make their Mark: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in the North east of England 1900-1914 (1997), M. Pugh, The March of the Women: a revisionist analysis of the campaign for women’s suffrage (2000),  J. Bush, Women against the vote: female anti-suffragism in Britain (2007), H.L. Smith, The British Women’s Suffrage Campaign, 1866-1928 (2014). The national WSPU newspaper, The Suffragette, can be accessed in Gateshead Central Library.

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