Suffragettes April 7 1913




After an absence of two weeks the militant section of the Suffragists yesterday reappeared in Hyde Park and attempted to hold a propagandist meeting. The usual notice had been conveyed to the police, who had made every arrangement for the safety of the women. Superintendent Wells, with a large force of both mounted and foot police, was on duty throughout the afternoon. A significant fact with regard to what took place is that it was generally understood that the Suffragists had given up attempts to address meetings in Hyde Park because of the growing hostility exhibited towards them. It cannot, therefore, he said that the interruptions and disorder that took place yesterday, including the throwing of missiles, had been organised beforehand.

As soon as the cart which served the purpose of a temporary platform had been drawn into position at the side of the rails near the Bayswater-road, a crowd began to gather, and soon grew to large proportions. The fine afternoon had tempted many people into Hyde Park, and thousands surrounded the wagon with its attendant mounted police. The speakers at other spots by the Marble Arch lost their audiences and it is safe to say that when the gathering was at its densest it must have numbered about 10,000 persons. The moment that Miss Brackenbury and the other speakers clambered into the cart it was clear that the attitude of the gathering was almost universally hostile. The first speaker had a most unsympathetic reception, and cheers were given for the Judge who had condemned Mrs. Pankhurst, while shouts were raised of “She ought to have had ten years.” Not content with shouting and singing, making it impossible for the women’s voices to be heard, the crowd soon began to throw pieces of turf, pebbles, wads of paper, and parts of oranges. The women in the cart were frequently struck, but were not hurt. Two youths entered the cart, and remained there for a while, but ultimately found it advisable to go because, if the aim of the stone throwers was not good as concerns the women, when it came to hitting venturesome young men it was seen that there were some good shots in the audience.

The speaking was persisted in for a considerable time, until the throwing of turf and other things again began. Superintendent Wells then gave orders that the horse which draws the cart should be brought up, and it was passed to the shafts through an escort of mounted police. A number of Suffragists who had not been on the platform, but had remained on the ground, were advised to join those who had been speaking, and surrounded by a crowd of many thousands the Suffragists set-off on their journey from the Park. It was not an easy matter even with the escort of mounted police. The opportunity was seized by those hostile to the movement to start a regular fusillade, and when the roadway was reached the mounted police had to insist on the heavily-loaded cart being dragged out at a fast trot. The crowd took short cuts and nearly headed off the wagon at the Marble Arch, but it passed through the gates and, still with its escort of mounted police going at a good round pace, was driven into Oxford-street and into safety. The crowd could not keep up with the horses. Throughout this time the throwing of various objects had not ceased, and but for the skilful dispositions made by the police the women would not have got off lightly. Superintendent Wells had bodies of men in reserve at a number of convenient points, and communication was kept up by means of cyclist messengers. Among the interested onlookers for a part of the time was Sir Edward Henry, Chief Commissioner of Police.



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