Oldham children celebrate the powerful women's suffrage movement

Date published: 17 July 2018

Children from across the borough have been celebrating the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which allowed some women and men over the age of 21 the right to vote.

Gallery Oldham and Historic England have been instrumental in educating teachers from seven schools across the borough about the women’s suffrage movement with the aim of schoolchildren creating a display to be shown in Gallery Oldham’s foyer.

The schools involved were Greenacres Primary Academy, Hey with Zion Primary School, Knowsley Junior School, South Failsworth Primary School, St Hilda’s Primary School, St Thomas’ Leesfield CE Primary School and St Thomas’ CE Primary School, Werneth.

Teachers initially came to Gallery Oldham to learn about suffrage, particularly our town’s links to the movement, back in February.

They then passed on their new-found knowledge to their pupils, which has resulted in some fantastic display work.

Children from each school visited Gallery Oldham with their teachers in June and toured its exhibitions whilst also being presented with the Heritage Schools Award.

Children from St Thomas’ CE Primary School in Werneth then went a step further when they joined in with a recent event at Werneth Park organised to commemorate the suffrage movement and in particular Marjory Lees, who was an influential local suffragist.

The children marched alongside horses in the park (pictured above) whilst chanting “votes for women” and learnt more about suffrage from Councillor Hannah Roberts, Oldham Council’s Suffrage Champion.

Councillor Roberts, Elected Member Champion for Suffrage to Citizenship Programme, said: “I am thrilled with the amount of effort that schools across Oldham have put in to learning more about the women’s suffrage movement.

“It’s such an important part of our history and the struggle should not be forgotten.

“The display in Gallery Oldham is wonderful – the children have really got on board with what they have learnt and I urge people to go and have a look at their fantastic artwork.

“The event in Werneth Park was also great. Walking alongside the children as they chanted “votes for women” was a memorable experience and one I will certainly not forget – and I hope they enjoyed it too.”

Werneth Park Lifelong Learning Centre was once the home of Marjory Lees and on the day of the event an exhibition was held inside the centre.

This was accompanied by outdoor activities, including a mock polling station, badge-making and stalls. 

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