Toward the end of 2017, Councillor Hannah Roberts was appointed by the full council meeting to the role of Member Champion for the Suffrage to Citizenship Programme. The aim of the programme was to celebrate the centenary of The Representation of the People Act which allowed men over the age of 21 and some women over the age of 30 the right to vote.
In order to commemorate this significant civil rights victory, various events and activities took place throughout 2018 involving Oldham Council services, schools, community groups, partners and the public.
It felt only right to honour and remember those who had dedicated their time to suffrage, especially given the prominent role Oldham’s women played to ensure the success of the cause. Suffragette Annie Kenney, from Springhead, was heavily involved with the Pankhurst family in campaigning for votes for women and was the first woman to be imprisoned for her Suffragette activities. We also had some notable suffragists too, including Marjory Lees. Marjory and her family were intertwined in the suffrage movement and were key figures in the town, particularly as the cause was gaining momentum. Her mother, Dame Sarah Lees, was the first female Mayor of Oldham and only the second woman in the UK to be elected to the title of Mayor.
There are so many great moments to reflect on over the past year. Some of the highlights include the rare and special screening of an episode from the BBC’s 1974 drama ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ – we were only the second organisation to be granted permission to show this since it was first broadcast. We also made the news with a brilliant feature about Marjory Lees appearing on BBC Breakfast, and the unveiling of Annie Kenney’s statue in Parliament Square finished the year off perfectly.
Through tireless fundraising and the generosity of the public we have a lasting legacy to the suffrage movement. This timeline shows some of the other achievements from the past year. Thank you to everyone who was involved, whether you organised events or just attended them, you should feel a sense of pride as you look back on what we have all achieved.