Research in old local newspapers seems to indicate that the first mention of suffragettes in Rhyl is in July 1908. A meeting of ladies was convened at the Town Hall to decide whether to start a branch of a suffrage society. They decided unanimously to start a branch in Rhyl of the “National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies” which, unlike the “Women’s Social and Political Union”, was peaceful and constitutional in its methods. They decided to start the society on a working basis early in September. The following year the local newspapers contained very many references to the suffragettes both locally and nationally.
Women over 30 in specific categories gained the vote in 1918. It wasn’t until 1928 that everyone over 21 got the vote. In 1929 women over 21 voted in their first general election.
Below are two excerpts from the papers – note that the Town Hall hosted representatives of the militant “Womens’ Social and Political Union.”
Last Friday evening a public meeting in the Rhyl Town Hall was addressed by two representatives of the National Women’s Social and Political Union (the militant section of the women’s suffrage movement – “Deeds not Words”.)
Rhyl Record and Advertiser August 7th 1909
“Why should women, just because they happened to be born women which, of course, they could not help—(laughter)—be disqualified from serving as citizens in as full a sense as the men? When women did exactly the same thing as men did to deserve the vote- contributed to the rates and taxes of the country – they ought to be permitted to enter into the same privileges as the men (applause). The N.W.S. & P.U. existed to champion the rights of those women who helped to keep the country’s exchequer going just as the men did. They asked for no more privileges than men enjoyed, but they were not going to be content with less (applause and a voice: Bosh !’) They were not seeking to make women the rulers of the country, but to make them the comrades and equals of the men in matters of citizenship (applause).”
Rhyl Record and Advertiser August 28th 1909
“On Tuesday afternoon Rhyl was again visited by a party of “suffragettes” and their meeting on the sands proved a particularly lively affair. It was advertised, as usual, by means of announcements in chalk on various footpaths in the town but instead of holding forth near the Pier as on former occasions the party proceeded to the extreme west end of the foreshore. Here for some time they had a very appreciative and sympathetic audience, and they had practically had their say when their whereabouts became generally known. As soon as it was discovered where the meeting was being held there was a general rush in that direction from the centre of the seafront (where many had congregated in anticipation of a meeting between the minstrel pitch and pier), and the aspect of the meeting was quickly changed from one of sympathy or at any rate tolerance to one of hostility. Miss Hewitt was the principal speaker, and up till that time she had thoroughly held the attention of the audience and won a fair amount of applause, her oratorical powers being of no mean order. The remainder of the meeting was, however, of a rowdy nature. Heckling and banter, all of which the speaker and her friends endured stoically, at length gave way to pelting, bags of sand and other missiles being showered upon the party. At last there was a rush for the tub which served as a platform, and it was seized and thrown into the sea. Such was the temper of a section of the crowd by this time that the “suffragettes” seemed in danger of a ducking. Thanks to the intervention of the Promenade Inspector Hayes and one or two male sympathisers, of the “suffragettes“, the rougher element of the crowd was restrained from doing the party any further violence, and they were allowed to retreat in peace. The heckling which took place in the course of the meeting was largely of a humorous character. One of the few questions asked which had any real hearing upon the “suffragettes” campaign was “Why is it that so many of those taking part in the “suffragette” movement are single women?” Before Miss Hewitt could answer someone in the crowd replied “Because they can’t get husbands,” and her own reply was lost in the roars of laughter which followed.”