The Women's Hall: Celebrating the East London Federation of the Suffragettes
The Women’s Hall project, developed in partnership by Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, Four Corners, Alternative Arts, the East End Women's Museum, and Numbi Arts explores some lesser-known suffrage stories from East London through two major exhibitions, a series of events, and a participatory photography project.
The East London Federation of the Suffragettes were a radical group who split from the WSPU in 1914 and fought for working women’s rights throughout the First World War. The Women’s Hall at 400 Old Ford Road in Bow was their headquarters from 1914-1924, a women’s social centre, and the home of their leader, Sylvia Pankhurst. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Women's Hall exhibition and events
Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, 30 May - 20 October 2018
This free exhibition and accompanying events explore the ELFS campaign for the vote, their split from the WSPU and their wartime projects, which included a co-operative toy factory, a health clinic, and a nursery in a former pub.
Monday 9am - 5pm
Tuesday 10am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 8pm
Friday 9am - 5pm
Saturday* 9am - 5pm
*First and Third Saturday of the month only
Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the exhibition hall at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, 277 Bancroft Road, London E1 4DQ will be transformed into a unique space evoking the headquarters of the ELFS, a former Baptist mission hall on Old Ford Road in Bow which the suffragettes named ‘The Women’s Hall’. The building no longer stands.
PAY WHAT YOU CAN CAFE
The exhibition includes a recreation of the ELFS Cost Price Restaurant, which will serve refreshments for visitors on a 'pay-what-you-can' basis using redistributed food from Fare Share. See below for opening times. There will also be a donation point for Bow Food Bank.
Learn about little known local working class suffragettes like Melvina Walker and Daisy Parsons, and the venues in Bow and Poplar which were taken over by the ELFS for use in their projects.
Objects and archive materials on display include a rare ‘Ealontoys’ teddy bear made in the toy factory started by the ELFS just behind Roman Road; and the handwritten diary of suffragette Gertrude Setchfield which describes her trips to the East End in 1914 to attend ELFS rallies, on loan from the LSE Women’s Library.
Our project volunteers have also produced a newspaper inspired by the ELFS own weekly newspaper, The Woman's Dreadnought, full of event listings, articles drawn from their research, plus extracts from the original Dreadnought and even the ELFS minute books. Pick up your free copy of The Women's Hall Dreadnought when you visit!
Events and workshops at The Women's Hall
October 11th, 4:30-6:00pm
Sally Nicholls spills the beans on her book: Things a Bright Girl Can Do:
Women United Against Racism
October 11th, 6:30pm-8:30pm
An evening with Julie Begum, who will be sharing her story of a coalition of women from diverse backgrounds who formed a group, Women Unite Against Racism, as part of the wider anti-racist and anti-fascist campaign that managed to get the BNP out of Tower Hamlets during the 90's.
Talk: Christine Burns on the historic struggle for transgender rights
October 18th, 6:15pm-7:15pm
At our penultimate event at the Women’s Hall, we are delighted to welcome Christine Burns MBE, who has campaigned for the civil rights of transgender people for a quarter of a century. Christine was a leading figure in the pioneering trans rights organisation Press for Change, working on new employment legislation and the Gender Recognition Act. She will be selling and signing copies of her new book Trans Britain after the talk.
Women’s Hall Grand Finale
October 20th, 12:00-5:00pm
The Women's Hall exhibition draws to an end at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives. Dina Begum will join the festivities, whose Brick Lane Cookbook celebrates the diverse cultures of our much loved Tower Hamlets.
To continue the suffragette legacy we a jam-packed day:
The final session of Cost Price Restaurant our suffragette inspired zero waste pay what you can cafe. Dina Begum shows us how to cook with what you have. Have a nibble and take home what you’ve made!
Speed Histories exploring through storytelling locally inspired suffrage history.
Suffragette Studio Photography at The Women's Hall, dress up as a suffragette and remember it forever!
East End Suffragettes: The Photographs of Norah Smyth.
2 November 2018 - 9 February 2019.
121 Roman Road, London E2 0QN Nearest tube: Bethnal Green, Central Line
A unique exhibition of photographs by suffragette Norah Smyth opens at Four Corners Gallery this autumn. These remarkable photographs, taken 100 years ago, will be shown for the first time in East London, just a stones-throw from where they were taken. They reveal the little-known story of the radical East London suffragettes.
Interested in growing your own photography skills? Got small children?
Check out this FREE photography workshop for mums.
Running: November-December 2018, Thursday and Friday mornings.
Modern Suffragette offers free, half-day sessions for mothers and parents. Childcare costs will be provided.
No experience necessary and cameras provided!
MORE #VOTE100 FUN:
A new ‘Suffrage in the East End’ Education Pack will be created for all Tower Hamlets schools, and newly digitized archive materials will be made available to the public at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives.