Historic banners telling the story of how people have fought for representation will be going on display this month at the People’s History Museum, as it marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act (February 6, 1918) when all men, and some women, obtained the right to vote.

The 25 banners, which will continue to be on show throughout the year, are part of the People’s History Museum’s collection of over 400 political and trade union banners, which are cared for by its in-house conservators. All have been actively created and used by campaigners and protesters, and give a vivid account of the slogans and philosophies that were integral to the suffrage movement, as well as other campaigns for representation.

Behind each banner is the story of the people who created it, capturing unique moments in time in the story of democracy.

Some of those that supported the fight for the vote include:

Brighton Women’s Social and Political Union’s (WSPU) Votes for Women banner, representing a group of women who, like others across the country, used tactics to disrupt political meetings. These included Eva Bourne and Mary Leigh who in January 1910 hid in the organ of the Brighton Dome during a speech being held by Prime Minister Asquith, only to be given away when one of them sneezed.

A banner created by the TUC Suffrage Atelier, a group of London artists who later evolved into a major political entity, and who used art to promote the Votes for Women campaign, making banners to support women’s rights.

The Women Workers banner created by the National Federation of Women Workers, an all-female union formed in 1906 as a way to unionise women during the mass strikes of 1910 to 1914.

A banner made at renowned banner manufacturer George Tutill’s workshop in London for the Social Democratic Federation (formed in 1884) that was later involved with the establishment of the Labour Representation Committee, which was renamed the Labour Party in 1906.

Images courtesy of People’s History Museum


To find out about visiting, its events programme and more, visit www.phm.org.uk.