Suffragettes January 29 1913




The arrangement which the police had made to deal with the anticipated raid on the House of Commons and the Government offices were much assisted by the rain, which continued throughout the whole of yesterday. A number of people however, hung about Whitehall and Westminster-bridge-road in the expectation of exciting events, but until eight o’clock at night all was quiet. The spectators were so few that the police kept their reserves under cover, and no stranger would have believed that what apparently was regarded by Mrs. Drummond and other members of the militant section as an epoch-making episode was in process of construction. Palace-yard was a desert. There was indeed a remarkable lack of sympathetic interest noticeable throughout the evening. Three or four people were waiting near the Cromwell Statue when a small number of women were seen advancing towards the House. At first it was thought these were members of the deputation who had threatened to be with Mr. Lloyd George at eight o’clock. They proved, however, to be a party of miners` wives, but they had to suffer for the faults of others by being kept out in the wet and cold till they were rescued by their hosts, who were well known members of the Labour Party.

When the deputation did arrive it was met at St. Stephen’s entrance by Inspector Rogers. The party were only twenty in number, and were led by Mrs Drummond who is usually described as “General” Drummond. She was courteously asked her purpose at the House of Commons by a police sergeant, and demanded to be at once let in to see Mr. Lloyd George !I insist,” she said, Mr. Rogers stated that Mr. Lloyd George could not see them that night, but it was understood that he might see them at the Treasury at eleven o’clock today. Mrs. Drummond said there were twenty members of a deputation at the door, and she insisted on an interview with the Chancellor. It was repeated to her that Mr. Lloyd George could not see the deputation that night, but Mrs. Drummond declared that this was only tomfoolery – “If,” she said, “you do not let us in, it means trouble.”

The police finding that members of Parliament seeking admission to the House were being obstructed, began to move the members of the deputation away from the door. At that time no crowd was present, and the incident was passing off without any excitement whatever, when a magnesium was exploded for the benefit of the photographers. After that a crowd began to rush up, and Superintendent Wells, in person, and several of his mounted men rode forward to clear the ground. The members of the deputation were still not under arrest, and were merely being invited to retire, when they made a dash in the direction of the entrance to the House of Lords. Mr. Wells, addressing them from horseback, asked if they would go away, accepting the information they had received that Mr. Lloyd George could not see them. A chorus of voices declared they would not go. Mr. Wells, leaning from his horse and speaking in a manner almost paternal, suggested that they really should go away, but if they did not he must order their arrest of obstruction. This the ladies demanded, and Mr Wells gave the necessary order. One of the leaders was heard to say: “Now, women, smash windows and destroy property!

Three of the leaders were arrested at once, including Mrs. Drummond and Miss Sylvia Pankhurst, but before the party could be taken to Cannon-row Police Station three others had to be taken in charge. The order to “destroy property” was carried out immediately, for at once a large number of panes of glass were smashed at the Home Office, the Treasury, and other Government Departments in Parliament street. Within half an hour of the presentation of the demand for an interview, over twenty Suffragist were under arrest at Cannon-row. Again a notable characteristic of the crowds last night was the hostile spirit shown towards the Suffragists. They had to be protected by the police, and several were put into cabs or assisted on to omnibuses when matters became threatening.

During the day special precautions were taken in the West End and shopping districts against raids. Extra police were on duty in the Strand, Oxford-street, Regent-street, and Piccadilly

Apart from the attempt to reach the House of Commons, the women chiefly concentrated their attention on the Government buildings in Parliament-street. Between half past eight and nine the Treasury and the Home Office were both attacked, and several windows were smashed, the women responsible for the damage being promptly arrested. Windows were also smashed at the offices of the Local Government Board, the Admiralty, and the Public Prosecutor.

In the neighbourhood of Piccadilly-circus, Regent-street , and Oxford-circus elaborate precautions were taken. Policemen were stationed near the large glass windows that were unprotected by shutters, and in addition they were supplemented by shop assistants and watchmen, who kept close observation on all those who loitered in the neighbourhood. As a result of the elaborate precautions taken little damage was done the most noticeable being the smashing of a window by a woman at Messrs. Liberty’s shop in Regent-street, and the smashing of a window at Messrs. Marshall and Snelgrove`s. Windows were also smashed at the Times Book Club, in Bedford-street, and at the premises of Messrs. Lloyd’s in Oxford-street, in connection with which two women were arrested. The Dover-street Post Office was also attacked a little before nine o’clock by a woman, who was taken to Vine-street. During the late evening, owing to the rain, there were fewer people than usual in the streets in the neighbourhood of Piccadilly and Oxford-street.

In Cockspur-street two large plate-glass windows were broken, each valued at about £100, four women being concerned and taken to Cannon-row Police Station.

In all arising out of the night’s proceedings, twenty-eight arrests were made – twenty-one women being taken to Cannon-row, four to Rochester-row, and one each to Marlborough-street, Marylebone, and Vine-street Stations.

Apart from a number of pillar-box outrages in London, and a couple of cases of window breaking – one at the Home Office – there were no developments of Suffragist militancy yesterday. Shopkeepers made extensive preparations against surprise raids, special men being put near plate-glass window, while the number of the police were reinforced. At one of the Regent-street post-offices when, just before six o’clock, the business of posting letters and packages was at its height, two men were stationed in from of the boxes, each with a sack to receive the packets.

Pillar-box outrages were reported to the police from all parts of London last evening. No arrests were made. The Post Office declined to make any statement on the matter to the Press.

In the East Croydon postal sorting office last evening some packages suddenly burst into flame and gave off thick fumes. Little damage, however, was done. The police are guarding the post offices and the principal letter-boxes in the town.

Our Dover Correspondent states that a party of suffragists yesterday crossed to Calais by the eleven o’clock steamer from Dover, having arrived from London.

Sympathisers with the cause of Women’s Suffrage arrived at the Essex Hall, Strand, last night, for the purpose of attending a conference arranged by the Women’s Social and Political Union. They found themselves confronted by a notice, attached to the closed gates of the hall, announcing that the meeting would not take place.

A memorial has been presented to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland praying that the three Suffragists sentenced in Dublin on Tuesday should be treated as political offenders, and stating that if the request were not granted the prisoners would start a hunger strike. They are now in Tullamore Gaol.

Mrs Despard was released yesterday afternoon from Holloway Prison. The fine of 40s. imposed on her at Bow-street on Tuesday was paid during the day by some unknown person. Speaking at a Suffragist meeting held at Clapham Hall in the evening Mrs DESPARD said that that morning she had settled down to a fortnight’s rest cure, and had not the slightest idea of anything else. She was very kindly treated, and had had the opportunity of speaking to her colleagues but she did not like to feel that the door was locked upon her. She was charmed with her cell in the convict hospital. It was not till four o’clock that afternoon that she knew some interfering person had paid her fine. When told of it she said: “I suppose you know I am going outside to fight again.” She was convinced that what she did in Trafalgar-square was a wise and right thing to do. She went there to appeal from the Commons to the people of the country. Had she held up her hand rescue would have been attempted. She did not do so because she could not bear to think that anyone might get hurt.

Grace Edith Burbidge, twenty-five, a shorthand typist, living at Hartham-road, Holloway, yesterday at the Marylebone Police Court was charged with maliciously damaging a number of postal letters by depositing a quantity of liquid phosphorus in the pillar letter-box at the junction of Sandall-road and Camden-road, St. Pancras, on Tuesday night. Mr. V. Alsop, solicitor, prosecuted for the Postmaster-General. A postman collected the letters and when about 500 yards away from the letter-box he discovered that his bag was alight. He at once rolled it up with the object of saving the letters, but the fire became worse, so he emptied the contents of the bag on to the pavement. A large envelope containing a tube was badly burnt, and four letters were also damaged, but not sufficiently to prevent their being delivered. Another postman said he was making a delivery in the vicinity of the letter-box about 8.40, when he heard a woman scream and saw the defendant with her right arm enveloped in a blue flame. He at once communicated with the police. Police-constable Wakeling stated that he followed the defendant to the house of a doctor, and while she was having her arm dressed he heard her say: “I went to put it in the box and it went on my arm instead” She afterwards remarked to the witness: !I have failed. Never mind. You know what it is through. The bottle is in there.” He afterwards found a quantity of fluid on the ground outside the letter-box. Mr Alsop explained that it was a substance that ignited on contact with damp, and at his request the defendant was remanded for inquires.



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