Former home of suffragist leader, Newtown

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button_lang_welshbutton_lang_frenchFormer home of suffragist leader, 11 Severn Street, Newtown

The regional campaign for women’s suffrage effectively had its headquarters in this building while it was home to Alix Minnie Clark. It was known as “The Hut” and was sometimes the focus of protests by people who thought only men should be allowed to vote in elections. Unusually, the campaigning continued through the First World War.

The building is much older than its Georgian frontage. Some of the ancient beams inside apparently came from dismantled sailing ships. The rear of the property, where Age UK has a shop, was a weaving factory before textile production became concentrated on mechanised mills in the 19th century.

Unmarried piano teacher Alix Clark was the dominant figure in the regional branch of the Women’s Freedom League. The branch was formed in 1911 and soon had hundreds of members. People travelled long distances to the meetings Alix organised in Montgomeryshire and on the coast of Cardigan Bay.

newtown_alix_clark_in_demoThe events were often targeted by opponents. One meeting in 1912 was broken up by a “yelling, savage mob”, with speakers physically attacked. Another meeting that year, in Pwllheli, ended with police rescuing Alix and fellow campaigner Anna Munro from youths who kept knocking over the WFL’s makeshift platform.

Alix travelled widely by train to distribute the WFL’s newspaper, shifting 1,000 copies in one visit to Eastbourne in 1911. She joined the WFL’s national executive in 1912. The photo shows her, on the far left, during a WFL event in Suffolk.

Unlike many other suffrage campaigns, the WFL remained active in Mid Wales throughout the First World War. In 1917 Alix chaired a meeting in Aberystwyth where Anna Munro said the work then being done by women had “exploded” the idea that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote because of their inability to do their share of war work. She said votes for women were essential because rebuilding Britain after the war would need the cooperation of every man and woman.

There was a local breakthrough in 1922, when Elizabeth Williams was elected to Newtown & Llanllwchaiarn council and Alix to the board of guardians for the local poor. Both successes were celebrated as triumphs for the WFL branch. The WFL flag was hoisted here, and both women were taken from the election count “to The Hut by a tremendous crowd of people”.

Alix moved to Surrey in 1929 and continued campaigning for women’s rights. She died in 1948.

With thanks to Ryland Wallace, author of ‘The Women's Suffrage Movement in Wales, 1866-1928’, published by the University of Wales Press

Postcode: SY16 2AQ    View Location Map

To continue the Newtown in WW1 tour, walk eastwards to the footbridge over the river, beyond the car park
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