Suffrage Leaders at Muswell Hill

The Muswell Hill Record, 22 May 1908

Uproarious Meeting!!

Countess Russell and Miss Christabel Pankhurst have a lively time

Interrupters and Bell Ringers Ejected

Speakers Escorted by Police to the Railway Station

The Suffragettes held their meeting at Muswell Hill on Tuesday night, and the upshot was that Countess Russell and Miss Christabel Pankhurst had to be escorted by policemen to the railway station. The meeting was of the most uproarious character, there having been nothing like it in Muswell Hill before.

A band of young men armed with bells, bicycle horns, squeakers and many other speech-arresting contrivances, gained admission to the Athenaeum, and very soon made their presence felt. Their noise was tolerated until it became simply unbearable and the indignant stewards made a rush for the culprits.

Miss Pankhurst, who at times raised her voice to a shriek in order to make herself heard, stopped short in her address, and a scene of the wildest disorder ensued.

The entire audience sprang to its feet, and several gentlemen went to assist the stewards. The young men had come to stay, however, and offered the stoutest resistance. Some of them were lifted bodily from their chairs, but not before these were badly damaged. Even when in the arms of the stewards they struggled desperately, and money fell from their pockets in a shower and articles of clothing were left behind.

In the confusion, a steward was mistaken for an offender, and he was rather roughly handled before he was recognised.

Outside those ejected seized a dog that had the misfortune to come their way, and apparently manipulated its tail in such a manner that Miss Pankhurst resumed her speech to the accompaniment of the bewildered and indignant animal’s barking.

In spite of the exertions of the stewards, it was obvious that all the interrupters had not been turned out. The man with the bell again set to work, but he was allowed to remain, the Countess Russell causing a laugh at his expense with the remark : “I particularly want the young man with the bell to stay. It’s a sheep bell he’s got, and it is appropriate that he should have it.”

Neither Countess Russell nor Miss Pankhurst was daunted by the interruptions, the jeers and the disorder. Both made the pluckiest possible stand, and made their fighting speeches run to their natural end. Both displayed great power of repartee, and more than once, with witty and sarcastic retorts, they made their interrupters the laughing stock of the house. It was no doubt their obvious ability in this respect that accounted for the small number of questions asked at the close.

Altogether, the meeting must be regarded as a triumph for the two Suffragettes. The opposition they had to contend with could scarcely have been greater, yet they smiled and spoke it down, and whereas a perfect storm raged in the hall at times things calmed down considerably towards the close. What is more to the point, the two ladies won the sympathy of the great bulk of the audience – not a few who had come to scoff remaining to praise – and the resolution they submitted was carried by a large majority.

When Countess Russell, Miss Pankhurst, and Miss Spong (who was chiefly instrumental in organising the meeting) sought to leave the hall they were confronted by a dense crowd of people, and it was deemed advisable to get the protection of the police.

With their escort of constables, the ladies made their way on foot to Cranley Gardens Station followed by a cheering and jeering crowd, and there was a renewal of the din when the train arrived and took the Suffragettes away.

Christabel Pankhurst
Christabel Pankhurst, c.1910

Image credits

Image of Christabel Pankhurst – Commons Wikimedia

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