Suffragettes celebrate their centenary with a blue plaque for Brighton’s own, Minnie Turner’s boarding house/hide-out at 13 Victoria Road. It went up on the anniversary of ‘Black Friday’, the day on 18 November 1910 when suffragettes marching to Parliament were violently attacked by police over six hours. Minnie was present, as were several of her former guests and, in particular, her boarder, Mary Clarke, the WSPU organiser for Brighton and sister of Emmeline Pankhurst, who died after being force-fed in Holloway.
Force-feeding. Bit like torture; sort of locking people up and hurting them, but, and this is the important bit, you must not kill them. Otherwise there is a grave risk of martyrdom and fame.
This all seems old-fashioned where the past is a foreign country and they did things differently there said L.P. Hartley. When women had the temerity to demand the vote, gov.uk came up with;
The Cat and Mouse act. Women on hunger strike were let go from Prison and re-arrested when better. Or that was the plan except they legged it to Minnie’s safe house in Victoria Road; “More Cat and Mouse prisoners have stayed with me than any other home”, she said, although local lads would stone the windows, it had to be better than Holloway.; Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, Flora Drummond, Mary Naylor, Ada Wright, Lady Constance Lytton, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Vera Wentworth and Emily Wilding Davison all stayed there. So popular that some would stay in the garden shed and eat their meals therein.
So Blue Plaque for Brighton;
Brighton, as ever, more party-town than the others, the home of alternative culture and the hide-out of choice for the cognoscenti.