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Ivy Lane

14, Ivy Lane
Oops! Is it safe to crawl out of the bunker yet. Following my mini rant in the article regarding Broughton (09-09-10) a certain amount of flak has certainly been flying over the parapet, not to mention a certain degree of earache from a certain lady colleague at work.

And of course Sandra Glazebook (readers’ letters) was fully justified in taking uppance that no mention was made of the married man.

However, this was because the story - as told to me by an ‘old timer,’ several years ago - made no such mention, which seems to confirm the ‘ignorant age’ which then existed.

Thus to hopefully redress the balance, this article deals with the local story of those women who were prominent in achieving the rights enjoyed by their gender today.

In a male dominated political sphere, the emergence of the Suffragette movement began to cause much concern, and in August 1909 when the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, arrived at Bletchley Park, to speak in support of a parliamentary candidate, substantial efforts were made to prevent the precursors of women’s lib from disrupting the meeting. Nevertheless, one determined member still managed to chain herself to a tree, and others were temporarily locked up.

The Pankhursts were the most prominent of the Suffragettes, and from 1912 until 1914 it became a national mystery as to the whereabouts of Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, and her daughter, Sylvia.

In fact following her disappearance from London, Mrs. Pankhurst had retreated to Stewkley, where in the cosy confines of No. 14, Ivy Lane she took up residence. In fact locally there was much support for her aims, and when at the beginning of March 1914 Miss Mason, of the Women’s Suffrage Society, spoke at a meeting of the Bletchley branch of the N.U.R., a resolution was passed supporting votes for women.

However, it would be the role of women during the First World War which provided the main incentive for extending the franchise, for it became increasingly apparent that they were well able to do the jobs performed by the men who were now on military service.

Indeed, as stated at a meeting staged by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, held in Wolverton’s Science and Art Institute, the aim was ‘to secure the franchise for women by reasonable and fair agreement and by the overwhelming evidence which the war has produced that women have shown themselves admirably adapted to take their share in work of national importance.’

As for their local efforts, although being an experienced tailoress a young lady from Newport Pagnell became a conductor on the Luton Corporation tram service, to thereby release a man for the Forces, whilst regarding others their farm employment remained essential to the nation’s food production.

Therefore in 1918 all women aged over 30 were enfranchised, with this age being lowered in 1928 to 21, the same age as men.

And so, as exemplified by their role during World War Two, no one could nowadays begrudge women their hard earned freedoms - as long as they can still find the time to do the housework of course - ONLY JOKING!