Oldham Historical Research Group

NUWSS 1913 PILGRIMAGE DIARY
written by Marjory Lees, President of the Oldham Women's Suffrage Society

7 Jul 1913 – Monday
Marjory's Diary: At Oldham

The Ark spent the weekend at the front door of Werneth Park. At the time of starting great consternation prevailed, the key's were missing. M. L. had seen them on Saturday. Scholes had seen them on Saturday. Mrs Mercer who cleaned the caravans had seen them on Saturday. Finally they were found in a safe corner of the caravan.

We met at Clegg Street station for the 9.20 in the highest spirits, bundled banner and bags in a growler and led by an unemployed hurried to Mersey Square where we found some policemen, some baggage and an excited crowd of ladies. Got off quite nicely a band of 64, the morning walk seemed easy and we soon arrived at Poynton and we went to lunch at a small confectioners whilst Lady Rochdale and Miss Pemberton addressed the open air meeting. I didn't realise that it was the only lunch we were to have so after asking dutifully for a glass of milk and finding it could not be obtained back slid into tea and a sponge cake but afterwards found out and brought as many ginger breads as would fill my pocket.

When we got to the spot selected for the dinner hour meeting (the Green) it was just outside a large elementary school and the audience was chiefly juvenile. Mrs Fletcher spoke very well upon citizenship, when she told them about the pilgrimage and asked if they knew where we were going they all called out "London" and when at the end she told them she didn't think she would have a nicer audience anywhere they cheered quite spontaneously. M. L. followed with a few remarks about other countries and when she came to a dead stop the school bell rang most opportunely.

The sun began to shine and it got considerably warmer.

We turned out of our way to go to tea with Mrs Knowles, who has a lovely house and garden. After a rest there on to Macclesfield. The local society met us at the boundary, we got our banner up and walked round the town. (M.L. and one of the Manchester people carried it). Then we went to tea provided by the local committee. During this time a large and nosey crowd collected round the Town Hall and amused itself with lustily booing every pilgrim who shewed herself.

The pitch for the caravans turned out to be only a garage so Miss Wright went with us to livery stables and public houses and we secured a place for them in the yard of the Derby Arms. M. L. and M. F. got rooms at the more select Macclesfield Arms which had once housed Mrs Despard. The number of pilgrims dwindled down considerably as people left us.

The evening meeting was packed and an overflow meeting was held. Those who came out late had a pretty rough time. Mrs Bridge and Mrs Tuke got out all right. Our caravans were late in arriving. I circled about in the outskirts of the crowd, it was most amusing they were entirely taken up with the Town Hall and hardly noticed me but every now and then they caught sight of my badge "Why there's one of them" and regarded me with amused curiosity.

I told the Constables that two caravans were coming from Oldham and asked them to tell Scholes we were staying at the Macclesfield Arms and the caravans were to go to the Derby Arms.

At last they drove in amidst yells of laughter, and the boos and we bundled out our luggage quite quickly. Mrs Siddal and a policeman had a procession to themselves when she went to fetch her bag after the meeting, she was followed by a booing crowd. It took 8 policeman to get Mrs Fletcher and her niece through and they got a lot of dirt thrown at them. Instead of passing the night in the confines of the caravan M. F. and M. L. shared a vast bedroom at the Macclesfield Arms. The others all got hospitality in various houses.

8 July 1913 – Tuesday
Lovely day. Had a quiet start the caravans fell in behind. The Non-Conformist Minister Mr. Ireland and his wife came with us and he gave us information about the country etc as he knew it well. Our numbers were now much reduced and we were rather a straggling lot.

About [11.30] we were told to take a by road up to Buglawton for a dinner hour meeting but when I heard that the caravans could not get up to the lane and there appeared little prospect of seeing them again till late in the afternoon I asked leave for the 4 of our party who were walking to fall out then and there and lunch in the caravans, the other 4 had been whisked off the Buglawton in motors. Leave was given with a reprimand on the disgraceful way the pilgrims were straggling and some others who were found partaking of harmless refreshment at a wayside inn were soundly rated.

We found a good stopping place in front of a public house and had a good lunch. Just as we were finishing Mrs Bridge arrived having tramped back from Congleton, then Mrs Fletcher, Mrs Siddal and Mrs Tuke (Mrs. F. spoke at Buglawton) appeared so we had a second lunch party.

M. F. and her collecting box provided many incidents. At our first halt as the caravans came up she stood up and shook it exuberantly, the rattling so excited Noah that he broke into a heavy trot and dashed up to us in great style. The outfit of the caravans had not included a whip and he had paid so little attention to admonitions previously that Scholes had been reduced to flicking him with a pocket handkerchief! But this dodge only succeeded once or twice and then Noah became as blasé with regard to noise as the rest of us.

A lady (Mrs Railton) passing in her car stopped to speak to us and gave 1/- to the collecting box although she was a member of the W.S.P.U. Then a tipsy man was most conversational he appeared to wish to join our luncheon party and we could not get rid of him. At last Mrs Bridge gave him a packet of her sandwiches which she had not used, he retired to the other side of the road and ate them, then he came across, offered me 1/- and said I was to take 3d for the sandwiches. I told him they were [not] worth that but if he liked to give a penny to our collecting box I would give him 11d change so he departed quite satisfied.

We were almost at Congleton, but we spent so long over our meal and the washing up that we were well into the afternoon when we got through and found a pitch in a field opposite the "Wagon and Horses". We had a rest and brush up and then went back to Congleton and had a substantial tea at the Lion and Swan, an old fashioned hotel full of antiquities and fairly stiff charges.

Great rumors were flying about as to what was to happen on the fair ground at the evening meeting, but everything went off very well indeed. Mrs Fletcher and I addressed the overflow meeting from the van belonging to the British and Foreign Bible Society which was kindly lent by the man in charge who himself was not a suffragist but thought we ought to have facilities for a fair hearing. The two of us slipped away quietly directly it was over and got back to our pitch without the least trouble. No one interfered with us and when the public house was closed Mrs Fletcher heard the men say "we must not disturb the ladies" then they immediately wished each other a loud good night.

9 July 1913 – Wednesday
We got up early, had breakfast (boiled eggs) and were ready to fall in when our people came up. It was a forced march of 16 miles through the Potteries to Stoke. Mrs Fletcher and I were put in Miss [Bridgon's] car and sent on to Golden Hill (a mining village) where we arrived at 11 o'clock, we commenced giving out our bills all down the street and found the people very friendly on the whole. Some of the women denounced us loudly as a disgrace to our sex and one of them went so far as to say we ought all to be drowned and held to that opinion even after I had explained to her what inoffensive people we were, so I told her she was as bad as the militants and she had to laugh.

There was a delightful police sergeant there who was much interest[ed], shewed us where we would hold the meeting and where we could get some food at a grocers shop (my lunch cost 4d). The children were also friendly on the whole. We told them all about the march and shewed them our bags and explained why we had Watling Street on them etc. Mrs Fletcher and I spoke from the motors and had a very good hearing, other pilgrims had little groups around them. Altogether we have a happy recollection of Golden Hill.

Our party had been divided and had now dwindled down to 10 and once when I took a count to six. But it was a wonderful thing that [in] this tiny little party with its flags and badges [we] could walk unmolested through the pottery districts which had been described as rough. We crossed the rest of the party at Tunstall where a meeting had been held and we had a most gratifying reception, the potters all turned out to see us pass and many of them wished us well.

A rather dreary road brought us to Burslem Market Place where people were already collecting. Here the main contingent from Carlisle met us in a motor bus having had a very rowdy meeting in Nantwich the day before. Tea was provided by the local Society in a Congregational School down a side street. Here the children got pretty troublesome hooting and jeering, but we had a good meeting in the Market Place at 6 o'clock. Major Cecil Wedgewood took the chair and both he and his wife spoke. We were required to stand round the speakers lurry which I thought hard lines as we had been on the go all day.

Immediately after the meeting we formed up and marched on to Hanley at a quick pace preceded by a band wh. played alternately 'Marching through Georgia' and the 'Old Folks at Home'. The procession was certainly not dignified and resembled Oldham Cycle Parade more than anything else. Our collectors and distributors dodged in and out of the crowds at top speed. We were tired out when we arrived at Hanley and did not stay for the 8 o'clock meeting but took the tram on to Stoke. We had parted with the caravans in the morning and told the men to take the direct route and shift for themselves which they did.

The speakers got a fair hearing and the resolution passed but the crowd became frightfully rowdy afterwards and some of the pilgrims had to take refugee in the police station before they could get to their quarters.

M. F., G. S. and I went to the North Stafford Hotel and had a very comfortable night there. Arnold Bennett's sister spoke to E. S. in the train.

10 July 1913 – Thursday
Woke up to find dull smoky skies and pouring rain. Dismal accounts of pilgrims experiences and the reported wrecking of the Birkenhead caravan and the information that Stafford was 18 miles away further depressed us. At the Campbell statue our starting place there was no sign of Scholes. Mrs Siddall decided to go home. Mrs Bridge and E. S. were left to wait for Scholes and we formed up and marched away. We got off as usual quite quietly and without hostility and were soon out in the country again on the road to Stone, we got the usual light lunch and held an open air meeting.

That afternoon we took to the caravan and got a rest writing letters etc. We were thus engaged working very much at our ease when a Mr Nicholson with whom Dr. Claydon had been corresponding came up on a motorbike and was much amused thereat. After we had had enough of this we took to the road again and joined the others at the bridge outside Stafford. Here we received much attention from a hostile crowd of children who would not behave. We were not mithered. I got into conversation with one boy and told him we were waiting for the Stafford people to join us. "What" he said "are there any of you in Stafford." Led by a very poor band we got to the Market Place, on our way a lad of about 15 came up to me and said shyly "How did the meeting go off last night."

The usual tea was provided by the Committees at Stafford but the flesh rebelled and called out for strawberries and cream and other luxuries and had them too as an extra. The caravans went straight on to a private pitch lent by Mrs [Joyce], Rowly Park. Great rumours were flying about as to what was going to happen. Miss Ashton and Miss Pemberton spoke form the main platform with a local man in the chair. Mrs F. and M. L. were told off to the overflow meeting over which Miss Watson presided, it was quite orderly and we got away without any trouble at 8.40 leaving Miss Leadley Brown to speak.

Rowley Park was quite a good way out Mrs Bridge and M. F. fell in the hands of a good Samaritan in the shape of the Director to the Education Committee who hearing them exclaim at the distance took them into his office while he telephoned for a taxi.

E.S. and A. D. had a rough experience when they tried to take Mrs Tuke's luggage to the station later, they were mobbed by a crowd of children who began throwing stones and one of them was hit in the face. Fortunately some gentlemen came to their rescue and took the bags for them. They were told that an atheist who tried to hold a meeting in the square the week before had also been pelted! Finally we all got to bed in our caravan, three in each. Noah and Ham also became rowdy and kicked each other when they were turned out.

11 July 1913 (Friday)
Mrs Joyce gave us all breakfast, Mrs Fletcher and her niece went back from Stafford, the rest of us went through Rowley Park and out on the Wolverhampton Road where we waited for the others to come up and had a nice chat with an old man who was passing by.

It was a lovely day and we had a most enjoyable walk to Penkridge, got lunch there. M. L. addressed a nice little crowd of children. Then Mrs Bridges and M. L. took the motor lent by the Rev. H. E. Dowson, Unitarian Minister at Hyde and got into Wolverhampton station and took the first train back to Oldham.

12 July 1913 (Saturday) Part 1
(added by Oldham Local Studies and Archives)
So why did Marjory leave the Pilgrimage and travel back to Oldham?

It was to be presented to the King and Queen on their tour of Lancashire. Their Majesties arrived in Oldham on Saturday 12 July and Marjory was part of the delegation presented to the Royals at Oldham Town Hall.

The next post will contain some extracts taken from a description of the visit published in the Oldham Chronicle, 19 July 1913. The original article/s are extremely lengthy but include some amazing details and facts about the town, the day and the organisation of the event.

The itinerary for the visit saw the royal group enter the borough, travel to the Town Hall on Yorkshire Street where they were introduced to dignitaries of the borough, then to Werneth Park where the children of the town gathered to bid them welcome and then on to Platt's works where they were introduced to the company directors and had a brief tour of the works. Marjory Lees and her mother (Mrs. C. E. Lees) were presented to the King and Queen at the Town Hall and were able to join the children at Werneth Park (The Lees family home).

12 July 1913 (Saturday) Part 2
Extracts from the Oldham Chronicle, 19 July 1913

The King and Queen in their Royal progress through Lancashire, came on Saturday morning to Oldham, accompanied by Prince Albert. During the week they had seen much of the country along the main roads and in and near the large towns.

At the Town Hall the King and Queen were received by the Mayor and Mayoress (Alderman and Mrs. Ashworth), who were presented to them by Lord Derby, the Mayor addressing them said: "On behalf of the inhabitants of Oldham I have the honour to welcome your Majesties to the town. I can assure you that your visit is greatly appreciated by the people. You have no more loyal and devoted subjects than are to be found in the borough of Oldham." The King in reply, said that he was delighted with the reception given to the Queen and himself, and that he had been pleased to see the decoration of the town, which he thought was beautiful.

In the order of naming them the following ladies and gentlemen were presented to their Majesties by the Mayor: The Recorder of Oldham (Mr A. G. Steel, K.C.); the Town Clerk (Mr J. H. Hallsworth) and Mrs Hallsworth; the Deputy Mayor (Councillor Isherwood, J.P.) and Mrs Isherwood; Mrs C. E. Lees, councillor and freeman of the borough; Miss Marjory Lees; Lord Emmott and Lady Emmott; Mr William Barton M.P.; Mr E. R. Bartley Denniss, M.P., and Mrs Denniss; Dr. Yates, J.P., and Mrs Yates; Alderman Gourlay, J.P. and Mrs Gourlay; Mr J. E. Newton and Mrs Newton; Mr T. Ashton and Mrs Ashton; Councillor H. Wolstencroft, J.P. (Chairman of Chadderton District Council) and Mrs Wolstencroft; and Mr Henry Hoyle (clerk to the Chadderton District Council).

The hostesses, (of the children at Werneth Park) Mrs and Miss Lees, were amongst those favoured persons whose presence was absolutely required at the Town Hall, as they were to be presented to the Sovereigns; but they did not forget their duty to their guests at home and immediately the proceedings at the civic headquarters were completed they motored round by a convenient route and were in time to take their placed on the lawn a few minutes before the royal party arrived. With them came Lord and Lady Emmott and Mr James Rennie, who as secretary for the education for the borough may be described as the titular head of the huge army of Mrs Lees guests.

All the way along the royal party had been heartily cheered and from Hathershaw right to the Town Hall, and thence away to Werneth Park and the borough boundary was one long shout of acclamation – four miles of Oldham people cheering the King and Queen on the first visit of royalty to the town.

13 July 1913 (Sunday)
Back to Marjory's Diary:

The four Oldham pilgrims who had strayed from the fold met at Clegg St Station for the 3.57 train to Birmingham and had quite a send off. It was a gloomy day but cleared up as we went along. Spent the night at the Queen Hotel.

14 July 1913 (Monday)
Assembled at the Suffrage Offices, 24 [Easy] Row had a good send off (Mr Broadbent came) met Mr Brierly and Nellie Bailey, Ancoats Settlement folk. Then marched to Olton, a goodly band, the local Society met us a little way out and had a lovely cold lunch ready for us in a schoolroom.

An enterprising photographer took a group and as he was a member of the Society we felt we couldn't do less that engage him to take the caravans which was duly done. Then we walked on to Knowle, a charming little village. Tea was provided by the Solihull Society at the Greswolde Arms. There was an evening meeting in the Square but most of us went to the caravans, which were pitched in a field belonging to the Hotel.

15 July 1913 (Tuesday)
Got breakfast. Lovely day and went through lovely country. Stopped for lunch at a place called Chadwick End, had a dinner hour meeting at which Mrs Fletcher and M. L. spoke with Mrs Dixon in the chair. It was 7 miles on to Warwick and a procession to Leamington to finish up with so we had a lift in our caravans in the afternoon. When we were about 2 miles from Warwick we got down thinking some of the other pilgrims toiling behind us might be glad of a lift on the way.

There was a very dark heavy cloud in front and we had not gone far when it burst and torrents of rain poured upon us, the band had been much reduced by the motors, the few of us that remained on the road took refuge in a thick hedge where there were some fine trees, to our joy we saw the caravans coming along and four of us were able to take refuge, leaving two unfortunate cyclists to brave the elements. The 'Ark' deserved its name on that occasion.

Warwick did not seem to be a propitious place for a pitch. We were told of a field and went with Scholes to look at it leaving the vans in the square with Clapham, the field was some way out and the nearest cottage was a little way off which would have been inconvenient for water etc. Everything of course was soaking wet and as we had to go into Leamington, we abandoned the idea of camping, Eda and I took a room at the Woolpack and transferred our luggage there. Then we went to tea at a Congregational School provided by the Warwick and Leamington Society.

A large open air meeting was held in Warwick and then we formed up and processed to Leamington headed by the Salvation Army band playing a weird and melancholy air. Crowds came along with us some very ragged boys. Occasionally sympathisers waved to us and one institution had all the children waving on the balcony. I think it was a good 2 miles to the monument where another meeting was held. Eda and I came back to Warwick on the tram, the others accepted hospitality. Mrs F spoke at Leamington.

16 July 1913 (Wednesday) – Stratford
A later start than usual gave us time, a stroll round Warwick, a most delightful old town. When we met at St. Mary's Porch, people had tales to tell of the great crowds at Leamington and the difficulty of getting out of it, but further reports of rowdyism, it seemed to be more curiosity than hostility.

There were few villages en route, but we stopped for lunch at Mrs Dowson's who kindly invited the pilgrims to lunch and then to rest in her house and garden. Some of us went into lunch and the rest had a picnic meal in the caravans. We reached Stratford-on-Avon in good time, while we were waiting outside a man came to tell Scholes the caravans were to pitch in a field belonging to Mrs Flowers, Welcombe Road.

At 5.30 tea was provided at Pargeter rooms, Brook Street. After tea Mrs Fletcher persuaded us to make a dash for the river and we went for half an hours sail first up past the church and the Memorial theatre, then down to the Swan's Nest. We got back in time for the procession headed by a band and went to the church. The Vicar had kindly remitted the usual charge of sixpence, we all stood in the nave and went up to the chancel in parties of 6. M. L. was asked to go with the first 6 to lay a wreath on Shakespeare's grave.

There was a large crowd at the Fountain and for the first time the main platform had what seemed to be organised opposition – a band of men who cheered and made a continuous noise when Miss Ashton and Miss Leadley Brown were speaking. Mrs Harley, Miss Eskrigge, M. L. and Mrs Fletcher had a good side meeting until the main meeting broke up when a gang of youths with their arms linked charged down on the platform and swept the hearers away. Had we closed first we should have got the resolution carried.

There was no attempt at mobbing and Mrs F. and M. L. walked back to the caravans with their badges on without any interference. We were in a very nice field lent by a Mrs Flowers in Welcombe Road. She was away from home but we got water etc from the lodge. There were wild reports afterwards about the Stratford meeting that a policeman had been knocked down and hustled but this is not likely to be true, for Scholes saw one of our young men supporters being very badly hustled and he spoke to the police who said they were not going any nearer!

17 July 1913 (Thursday)
Lovely day. Made a late start. Walked through lovely county to Wellsbourne (about 5 miles) where we had a dinner hour meeting near Joseph Arch's tree. The inhabitants were thoroughly unsympathetic but we got through our meeting alright. Miss Eskrigge took the chair, followed by M. L. and Miss Courtney. One man remarked afterwards that it was lucky for us we had not come after dark as they would have made it worse for us than it was at Warwick. These parts have the reputation of being rough and several policemen were sent.

After the meeting we has a lovely hot lunch in the caravans ([lamb], green peas, raspberries and stone ginger from the public house). When the washing up was done and the horses had finished, we went on again to Compton Verney where Lord and Lady Willoughby de Brooke offered us a pitch for the caravans in their lovely grounds and also accommodated a number of pilgrims in tents which were being used for the Red Cross demonstration.

Compton Verney is nearly 2 miles from Kineton so we walked in to have tea with the rest of the party at Eden's rooms and then came back again in good time. Miss Matters and Miss Ashton spoke at the evening meeting which passed off quietly. Lady W. de B. provided milk, butter, eggs and bread and we gave the tenters coca, sugar, biscuits and candles. The Red Cross people left some beef tea and gruel which came in very handy and so did the camp fire. Unfortunately it rained very heavily in the evening.

18 July 1913 (Friday)
Left Crompton about 9 o'clock. We were advised not to go over Edge Hill on account of the tremendous hill and as it looked very like rain we stuck to the caravan which contained our lunch. Our road went through Gayton and Warrington we stopped first outside the latter and got some hot water and milk from a farmhouse on the roadside.

There was a wide stretch of grass and some shady trees under which we drew up the vans and had a good lunch of sandwiches, cake and jelly. We set the table and from its extreme ricketiness judged that we were on a slope. Mrs Fletcher and Annie had been promising themselves toasted cheese ever since the start so they really made it this time and Annie was getting down with the plate in her hand when the slice of toast slid right off on to the grass below, one piece fell butter side up and the other butter side down, one could be eaten but the other had to be abandoned.

Soon after that Mrs Fletcher's chair with her in it went over sideways, fortunately she had presence of mind not to clutch the table which only maintained its equilibrium through M. L. and Mrs Bridge each grasping a leg. After that a shower of cakes fell upon us from the caravan. Last but not least after the washing up A. D sat on her hat after having warned everybody else not to do so.

We missed Edge Hill altogether likewise Drayton and found ourselves at Banbury quite unexpectedly. We had a nice pitch for the caravans at Mrs John Gillett's, The Elms, Old Park Road. We got tea in the town then changed our blouses and hurried down to the meeting in the Town Hall where pilgrims were expected to sit on the platform. Mrs Fletcher was called out to speak outside but the crowd was too noisy to give anyone a hearing, a man blew a cornet in her ear. She came back and got us out before the meeting closed, so we got off quite quietly.

19 July 1913 (Saturday) – Oxford
Woke to find pouring rain, hurried breakfast, wet and disconsolate horses arrived and we got going as the distance was such a long one (22 miles). Fortunately it cleared up after a while. We got to Adderbury before the pilgrims came up. There was a brake to take us on to [Sturdy's] Castle Inn, 9 miles ahead but there was not room for every body so we stuck to the caravans the rest of the morning. E.S. fortunately asked them to send one of the motors back for us, we has a hasty lunch of Oxo and breakfast biscuits with tea biscuits as a second course. Just as we finished we came upon two motors waiting for us into which we hurriedly transferred ourselves and our baggage. Lunch was over at the Castle Inn and most of the party already gone out. There was a spare motor in which Mrs Fletcher, Mrs Bridge and A.D. went on, E. S. and M. L. walked a bit and then Miss Ashton took us up. The result of these lifts was that every one got to Summerton before they were expected and as we were taken into a Congregational School for tea, Oxford people who came out to meet us never found us at all although we marched in after tea.

The hospitality arrangement seemed very complicated. Mrs Siddall and Mrs Tuke who turned up could not get any, nor could M. L., a very nice local lady Miss Price who was stewarding recommended the Golden Cross Hotel (indeed she offered to take in two) a most charming old inn.

We had dinner and then went to the meeting at the Town Hall which was packed. The pilgrims entered from the back of the hall and walked up the central passage to the platform amidst cheers and booing. There was a very noisy element in the room and we began to expect a rough time. Mrs Chapman Catt did not come. The Chairman made a long speech and spent some time denouncing militancy (it seems there was a very strong feeling roused here by the burning of a boat house) then Mr Malcolm Mitchell spoke amidst interruptions. Oddly enough the interrupters began to shout "We want Miss Ashton."

When Miss Ashton's turn came she made a magnificent speech treating the question on broad human grounds and free from bitterness. It was curious to watch the change that came over the audience, some of the rowdies went out frankly bored by our intelligent and pacific statement of the case, others began to listen in spite of themselves and there was no interruption to speak of. The resolution was put and carried in spite of the efforts of the white haired leader of the Anti-Suffragettes whom we saw frantically signalling to his men to vote contrary. Afterwards they stood in a little group not more than twenty. The pilgrims were asked to remain on the platform until the Hall had emptied and were then taken out the back way.

We were played in by the organ and at the end the overture from Tannhauser was played.

20 July 1913 (Sunday)
Lovely day. Spent the morning poking about amid the colleges. An extraordinary thing happened as we were just coming out of the entrance to Balliol, a benevolent old gentleman and a girl got out of a taxi, there seemed something oddly familiar about him and we all looked at each other and exclaimed Asquith, he had gone in so Mrs Siddal, to make sure, asked the driver who confirmed our surmise.

In the afternoon Mrs Bridge, Mrs Siddall and Mrs Tuke went up the river and M. L. went out to Boars Hill to see the Shawcrosses, had a lovely walk home, there was a beautiful sunset and the domes and spire of Oxford piercing twilight.

21 July 1913 (Monday)
Assembled at St. Giles at 9.30 and marched out, halting at Miss Davenport Hill's for a photograph. Many Oxford ladies came to see us off. Walked 6 miles to Wheatley where we had a limited lunch, Mrs F spoke. On the way we were asked whether we would have cutlets or ham and eggs and a lot of us ordered cutlets. But it turned out there were only 7 cutlets for which 20 orders or so had been taken. M. L. was one of the fortunate ones. The innkeeper and his wife appeared to be paralysed by our numbers and appetites and did nothing. At last some of our folks sent out for eggs boiled and served themselves.

Then M. L. and Mrs Fletcher were sent on to the Fox Inn, Tiddington to hold a 3 o'clock meeting. At first it seemed hopeless to get an audience from the few scattered houses but the Vicarage was sympathetic and a party came down. The Vicar's wife (?) was a lady doctor Mrs Crewe Hunt who drove her own motor. Another American lady joined us. About 70 of us then got down to a not too plentiful tea.

Then we walked another 4 miles to Thame, there was a Mr Boddington, an oldish man with us who was by way of being an artist and who knew a great many Manchester people well and had also stayed with the Platts. The police told us to pitch at what was called the Recreation Ground where all the circuses went. It was an extremely nice field and off a quite road at the back of the town. There was no hospitality except some lodgings engaged by the Society.

It was a lovely evening we arranged for Mrs Siddall to come in the van and M. F and E. S said they would have the tent so the men put it up and after tea we made everything nice and comfy for them. We did not go into the market-place for the evening meeting as we were tired and wanted a comfortable meal. We were just ready to undress when the booing and shouting came our way. Milly rushed in to No. 12 and Eda to No. 5 with the welcome news that there were two policemen on the ground and that we had better put our lights out which we promptly did and got our door locked pretty quickly but had not time to fasten our windows. It was a weird experience, we sat in the dark as far back in the van as we could holding [ . . . . ] the windows and blinds. The policeman said about 150 came down and made a fine old row now with horns, hooting and booing.

The tents engaged their attention and I must say I never expected to find any thing left of it next morning. M. F. kept deploring that she had left her money there, every now and then we heard the sound of stampeding feet and an occasional expostulation and then policemen's whistles sounded. It seemed to us to go on for a very long time but I don't suppose it was really more than 20 minutes. There was an attempt at throwing [things]. At last they got tired as nothing was to be seen or heard of us and went off crying out "Good night you suffragettes."

I heard the police man reporting in official tones that some of the tent ropes had been cut and the horses corn thrown about. So then I opened the front window and found a row of people consisting of several policemen, the local doctor, and some other young men, they very quickly helped Eda and Milly to collect everything from the tent including M's purse and collecting box. It seems the policeman had stood before the tent so no one had got in. One man said he would stay on duty so A. D. and E. S. made him some hot milk and his mate some Oxo for which they were very grateful. Some of us undressed and some of us didn't and then we slept more or less.

22 July 1913 (Tuesday)
Met at the Market Place, the meetings had been very rowdy, Mrs F spoke. Walked 7 ¼ mile to Princes Risborough where a meeting was held at 12 o'clock. Lunch was provided at the George and Dragon.

Lovely day, hilly road. Had a lift in the caravans and then Mrs F. and M. L. were sent on in a motor to speak at West Wycombe 4 o'clock, Helen [Ensor] and her husband met us there and many of the Wycombe people. She took the chairs which means she stood on the slope and afterwards a photograph was taken. The schoolmaster was sympathetic and M. F. gave an address to the children.

We went back to the caravans for tea and Helen Ensor had it with us. At 7 we formed up and marched into High Wycombe behind the Town Band. Beatrice Ryan and the little Ensors were watching, as we got nearer the town the character of the crowd quite changed. I never saw so many evil faces gathered together. E. S. and M. L. and about half a dozen others were sent before the band to set the pace, the policemen did not go in front to keep the way clear as they had done in other places and the crowd pressed right upon us. We had been told High Wycombe would be rough and had sent the vans on to Mrs Berney Ulverston where they were allocated to stand in the drive of the preparatory school.

When we got to the fountain where the open air meeting was to be held the pressure was tremendous and we didn't know where to halt, we went to the end of the square and then some of the banner bearers began to furl their banners and the crowd surrounded them so we slipped off unnoticed and followed Miss Collum and her horse who was being personally conducted.

We fell in with a lady who was returning from her shopping shewed us the way and we climbed a most tremendous hill by the cemetery, every step gave us a feeling of greater security. We found our vans at the top and got to bed. Other pilgrims strayed in later and finally they began to arrive in motor cars having had to spend some time shut up in the garage. There had been some window breaking, eggs and tomatoes had be chucked about but nothing harder.

23 July 1913 (Wednesday)
Went in to Mrs Berney's for breakfast except three whole breakfasts were already cooking. Then hurried down to the Post Office for parcels. Were late for the service at the church but went in and found them singing "O, God our help in ages past" then we had the Litany. The service was well attended and one was glad to see that many had come in who were not pilgrims, there was no collection.

The weather was wet, cold and stormy but as usual cleared up. Miss Dove came out to watch us pass. We toiled up the steep hill and at the top turned in at a Mrs Gubbins house who gave us biscuits and lemonade. As I was walking along a lady with two little children ran after me. It was Madge Bailey from Edinburgh who was staying with her husband's relations. She walked quite a little way with us.

A meeting was held in Penn on Tylor's Green. We took up Miss Brearley who was feeling poorly and lunched her. We managed to get 3 eggs and with sandwiches etc did very well. Then we went on to Mrs Dixon Davies' at Witheridge who found us a delightful pitch in a clump of pine trees on a private road to a farm where we could purchase milk, butter and eggs. All water has to be fetched from a pump in private grounds. Mrs Davies gave us a delicious tea.

The names were called at 6 ([as] afterwards) and then they started for Beaconsfield 2 miles ahead, we walked bravely down the drive and then made for the caravans. We thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful scene and were just getting into bed when a manly voice asked for Miss Field and if we were all right. It was Mottram and Fairbrother whom Mother had dispatched to rescue us after seeing an alarming paragraph in the Manchester Guardian. They had been to the meeting in the village and asked for us and been directed to our pitch and I think went away quite satisfied as to our safety.

24 July 1913 (Thursday)
Lovely morning. Had Breakfast. Got down to Beaconsfield in time for the start. Quaint little place. Saw Mottram and Fairbrother who decided to return as Mother was on her way in the motor. She overtook us soon after we left Beaconsfield and went on to Gerrards Cross where there was an open air meeting and lunch. It was lovely country and some of us made a detour to see the old meeting house at Jordans where William Penn is buried. When we got to Gerrards Cross the meeting was nearly over. Mother had been speaking.

M. L. had lunch at the Bull's Head, the caravanners caravanned. Then went on to Denham for another small meeting and had tea at the Plough. The landlord was very tiresome, declared we hadn't paid and yet refused to co[rrect] us in the garden. Met Miss Park the Californian lady who spoke at Buda Pesth. Then walked to Uxbridge about 2 miles. Mother ordered dinner for us at the Chequers Hotel as we went up to the vans to pay our respects to the Bartley Dennisses and some of the party insisted on making a grand toilette before they would come to the hotel.

I forgot to say that just outside Uxbridge about half a dozen members of the New Constitutional Society met us, they all drew up on the side of the road and saluted they wore green and white badges and silver brooches and one of them entertained a few pilgrims to dinner.

Did not go to the meeting which went off so quickly that it was pronounced to be dull. Got back to our vans and got to bed.

25 July 1913 (Friday)
Three of us had breakfast with the Bartley Dennisses who were most kind, took us round their lovely garden and gave us roses. Mrs Fletcher and M. F. went off with the pilgrims, Mrs Siddall had gone on to Ealing for her hospitality the night before. M. L., E. S., A. D. and Mrs Bridge stayed in the vans to pack up which was not so bad a job as we had imagined, but we had a big stock of biscuits and marmalade to pack up again.

It was not nearly such a nice day early on but the sun came out about 11.30. Noah was so interested in town life we could hardly get him along. We passed Ealing Common whilst the pilgrims were having their meeting and the good beast recognised them and gazed regretfully at them as he was urged past.

At Acton we asked a policeman for an inn where the vans could stand while the horses had their dinner. He sent us to one close at hand the Red Lion. We went to a confectioners and almost directly we got in a policeman came up, the girl in the shop seemed to be enquiring about us and I heard him answer the everlasting question and say we were not the same. [He] was very friendly and told Scholes he came off duty at 4 o'clock and would shew us round.

Noah had had a good dinner and could not be induced to hurry, he didn't like London pavements either. We came in by Shepherds Bush, Notting Hill, Bayswater Road and so passed Ladbroke Terrace and Lancaster Gate. It was 5.15 when we reached St Pancras, first we were sent to the passenger department, then to a wrong goods yard, finally found the right place and demanded Checker Barber, had to go considerable distance before we found him.

The vans were soon disposed of but a complication arose when we found that the intention was to send the horses by goods train in an open cattle truck and there would be no accommodation for the men on the same train. After much consultation between our first friend Checker Barber, a livestock superintendent from Kentish town station, a gentlemanly superintendent of everything and everybody who took a faint interest and a friendly police man, we arrived at the decision that it would be better for them to go by passenger train, then came the problem how to get the extraordinary packages and our hand baggage back to the station with men and horses, however a labourer was found and our friendly Superintendent of livestock lent a hand.

The two enormous biscuit tins of groceries, jam etc were sacrificed and accepted with enthusiasm by the goodsmen. The work people were all outside watching us with great interest and the police escorted us, it seems no one is allowed to take anything out of the yard without a pass. Then at St Pancras, there was great hunting for the Inspector and finally arrangements were made for a horse box on the 12.15 am and an address given to Scholes where the horses could rest. The pilgrims then got in a taxi and reached the Waverley about 7 o'clock. M. F. and Mrs Siddall came later.

M. F. spoke at 3 meetings at Ealing.

26 July 1913 (Saturday) – Hyde Park Rally
The Pilgrimage visited the Tower where their badges caused a certain amount of consternation among the officials but their surveillance was quite friendly "Are you one of those who have walked through the country, well you look as if you had or had been to the seaside" was one remark made to Eda.

Returned to the hotel for our early lunch and started about 1.30 for the place of assembly for Watling Street pilgrims. Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale. M. L. and E. S. carried the banner which was much admired. The procession was a long one, Mrs Lees followed in the motor. There were plenty of bands and the way did not seem so long.

At Hyde Park there were 19 platforms, Manchester Federation being No. 10. Here Dr. Claydon joined us, Miss Mitton and Mrs Lapierre having previously met us. It was a fine sight to see the processions coming in from different sides. The crowds were quite orderly and the resolution passed at each platform with only a handful of dissenters.

Much exhausted by this time we invaded an already full tea shop and then went on to Alleen's tearooms for dinner without there being any opportunity for smartening ourselves. Any one attending that dinner would hardly have held us up as an example of peaceful folk, the younger members were called on to make speeches and afterwards any one was called on by name. The four men all spoke – Mr Robinson specially well.

Lady Rochdale told us that when she was announced at one of the houses where she was to be entertained her hostess looked her up and down and said "Why, I was expecting a nice working woman" (On another occasion she had to drive out to a place only to find the house shut up and the lady gone away, when she got back to Birmingham and when to the Queen, they would not take her in because it was late and she had not ordered her room beforehand, she got in finally at the Midland. N. B. Mrs Fletcher was once served in the same way there when electioneering and had to spend the night at the railway station.)

27 July 1913 (Sunday)
Mrs B. and M. L. wrote letters and an article for the local papers which proved to be superfluous as they produced one on their own account. The Pilgrims preferred to eat their dinner in peace rather than hurry to Trafalgar Square at 1.45, then finding only a short time remained took taxis to St. Paul's where they found the other pilgrims already seated well to the front.

The service was rather dull, many of the prayers being inaudible. Cannon Simpson preached on Elijah and depression. Afterwards M. L., Mrs B. and M. F. went to have tea with Dr. Claydon at the Lyceum Club. Being thus fortified they went on to the Ethical Church, Queens Road where Miss Roydon spoke beautifully on the spirit of the Pilgrimage which she said shewed three things, repentance (for whilst we were brought fare to face with hooliganism we had awakened to our responsibility for the conditions which create hooliganism), dedication to a great cause and joyousness which came from our belief in the greatness of our cause. At the beginning of her address she warned us against the danger of priggishness and egoism and begged us to avoid bitterness and narrow mindedness. After the service there was a reception for all who cared to stay. Miss Creak, Miss Walsh and many other friends were there.

Mrs Tuke left that evening, Mother, Eliza and Croasdell started back in the car in the afternoon.

[Courtesy of Oldham Local Studies and Archives - from their blog on Wordpress]

Find photos and news clippings from the Oldham Pilgrims in the 'Extras' Folder

Return to Women's Suffrage Main Page

link to home page
Oldham in Gazetteers link
From the archives link
link to members' pages
link to News
link to miscellaneous pages
links page