Suffragette protest site, Abergavenny
Suffragette protest site, 53 Cross Street
This building was the first Post Office in Abergavenny. In 1912 a suffragette was jailed for breaking one of the windows here.
When the Liberals won a landslide victory in the General Election in 1906, they began many social reforms including the introduction of national insurance and pensions for the over-70s. By 1910, Gwenllian Morgan had become Wales’s first female mayor, in Brecon. However, the right to vote or to stand for election to the Westminster Parliament were still barred to women, whose hopes were dashed time and again.
By 1912 women were fed up with the Liberals, including Welshman David Lloyd George, after attempts had failed to find a compromise which would give the vote to some women. Frustrated militants started violent action. They were known as suffragettes (suffrage means the right to vote).
In Abergavenny, Catherine Gatty from the Irish Women’s Franchise League was jailed – for a month with hard labour – for smashing a window in the Post Office in protest at being excluded from the Parliamentary election register. And when Reggie McKenna, the Home Secretary, visited Abergavenny for the Eisteddfod, suffragettes set fire to the cricket pavilion and a haystack.
When this building was a Post Office, people had to go along a passage alongside what was then a confectioner’s shop and bang on a shutter for service. On 27 May 1857, Mr Bigglestone was appointed Abergavenny’s Postmaster by the Postmaster General, the Duke of Argyll, on the recommendation of Sir Benjamin Hall, Lord Llanover. There were two letter carriers and six rural postmen. By 1911 there were 25 town postmen, 29 sub officers and a staff of 14. Post was delivered four times a day.
The Post Office moved to a new building in 1915. The building is now occupied by estate agency Surehomes.
With thanks to Gill Wakley, of Abergavenny Local History Society
Postcode: NP7 5EU
Other CRIME HiPoints in this region:
Abergavenny Castle – Norman lord massacred the Welsh guests he’d invited for Christmas dinner in 1175
Old Abergavenny police station – drunken woman brought in by wheelbarrow in 1878, to the town’s “disgrace”