About the project
In October 2015 a new Hollywood film will be released called Suffragette, the first time the movement has been the focus of a major film. This is an ideal opportunity of us to highlight and celebrate Swindon's very own suffragette so we are organising a number of events but we need your help!
Planned events include: a free guided walk with local historian Frances Bevan around the areas of Swindon where Edith and her family lived and worked; an illustrated talk at the local library; information display boards about Edith in the town centre during the celebrations; and a costumed rally in the town centre.
Volunteers are giving their time organising and delivering the events but we do need some financial support to buy the materials we will use. The main costs will be for the information display boards and props such as sashes and banners to allow us to make a strong visual impact on our march and rally. We will create a Suffragette information box after the events which will contain free copies of the Swindon Heritage edition featuring Edith New, further information on her work, the display boards, sashes, banners and any other props which can then be loaned, for free, to local schools, history groups, libraries and museums.
We have already approached local history and theatre groups for in kind contributions and there has been a lot of support and interest.
Who was Edith New?
Edith Bessie New was born in 1877 in Swindon. Starting her career as an assistant mistress at Queenstown Infant School, Edith later left Swindon to teach in Deptford and Lewisham. After hearing Emmeline Pankhurst speak in Trafalgar Square Edith joined the Women's Social and Political Union.
In February 1907 a deputation of suffragettes marched on the House of Commons; what began as a peaceful demonstration ended in a violent confrontation with police. Edith was arrested and sentenced to two weeks in Holloway gaol. In January 1908 Edith chained herself to the railings at 10 Downing Street, a three-week sentence in Holloway followed. Later that year Edith and Mary Leigh broke windows at 10 Downing Street, serving another two months in Holloway.
Edith later resigned from teaching and travelled the country organising support for parliamentary candidates sympathetic to women's suffrage.
Unfortunately, Edith New's work and the legacy she helped to build is not widely known in her home town and we aim to change this by celebrating her work and highlighting the rich heritage we have in Swindon.