Suffragist march

THIS WEEK IN 1989: Baby cheats death after 14-foot fall

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On this day in 1913 the Great Suffragist March from Portsmouth to London set off from the Town Hall Square.

One campaigner for the vote, Harriet Blessley, kept a diary, in which she describes how ‘the band played a march to suit masculine strides’ and that she had a hard job to keep up.

While there was ‘a cheer or two’, a tomato was thrown which hit her hat.

When the procession reached Cosham, the inhabitants were ‘excited and displeased’, shouting ‘go home and mend your stockings’ and ‘you’ll drop dead before you reach London’.

The first militant act locally in support of women’s suffrage was actually carried out by a man – Blessley’s brother Frederick was charged with smashing a pane of glass worth 12 shillings (60p) at the town hall.

When asked by magistrates to explain his actions, he said: ‘The warfare and militancy that women are going in for is very largely a question of breaking windows.

‘It is rather a piffling, idiotic way of going about it, I admit’ – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.