14 November 2018

Blue plaque for suffragette Minnie Turner

A blue plaque to commemorate suffragette Minnie Turner, wias unveiled at 13 Victoria Road, Brighton, BN1 3FS on 18 November.

The property, formerly the Sea View boarding house, was Minnie’s home from 1910.

Funded by Brighton & Hove City Council, the plaque is the first of its kind in Brighton, and was proposed by the Brighton & Hove Women’s History group as part of its campaign for recognition for local suffragists and suffragettes.

Three further plaques will go up in Brighton & Hove

The Commemorative Plaque Panel and VisitBrighton, the council’s tourism department, have agreed to plaques commemorating suffragettes Elizabeth Robins, who lived in Montpelier Crescent, and Clementina Black, who was born in Ship Street, and the site of the former offices for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) at the Quadrant.

Councillor Alan Robins, Chair of the Tourism, Development & Culture Committee, said: “I am extremely proud that, in this Centenary Year of Women’s partial achievement of the vote, we are unveiling the first of these four very special blue plaques.

“These plaques will not only provide a record of the huge contribution made by Minnie Turner and others to the suffrage movement in the city but also act as a permanent reminder for future generations of the struggle for democratic equality for women in Britain.”

Minnie Turner was born in 1866 in London, later moving to Brighton, where she became a successful small business woman and activist. She was for 12 years the Honorary Secretary of a branch of the Brighton Women’s Liberal Association and a member of the National Union of  Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).

In 1908, frustrated at the government’s refusal to grant women the Vote, she joined the militant WSPU. She ran her boarding house Sea View as both holiday destination and refuge for suffragettes recovering from imprisonment, hunger-strikes and forcible feeding.

Minnie expressed great pride that more of the suffragette leaders and speakers had stayed with her than in any other home. Guests included Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, Flora Drummond, Mary Naylor, Ada Wright, Lady Constance Lytton, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Vera Wentworth and Emily Wilding Davison as well as Mary Clarke, the WSPU organiser for Brighton who was Emmeline Pankhurst’s sister, and boarded at Sea View in 1910.

Jean Calder, Secretary of the Brighton & Hove Women’s History Group added: “We are very grateful to Cllr Robins and the council. This memorial for Minnie is long overdue. She was a formidable woman who made Sea View a hub for the suffrage movement in the South East of England.

“It is fitting that the unveiling is to happen on the anniversary of ‘Black Friday’, the day on 18 November 1910 when suffragettes marching to Parliament were violently attacked by police for six hours. Minnie was present, as were several of her former guests and, in particular, her boarder, Mary Clarke, the WSPU organiser for Brighton, who later tragically died.”