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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, July 12, 2008
    History-making mischief
    Drifting around the web from the base of the Working Class Movement Library is often rewarding. And so tonight, a great discovery from Paula Bartley's biography of Emmeline Pankhurst, a chapter which revealed to me an amazing piece of social history about one of the memorable places I encountered on my M62 walk last year, Boggart Hole Clough. In 1896 the public park was adopted by the Independent Labour Party for its meetings and tension rose and attention increased as the Corporation banned the gatherings. Pankhurst got involved, speaking at Boggart Hole Clough on May 21st and May 28th 1896, 'willing to risk imprisonment for the right of free speech by tearing down fences put up to stop the meeting. Like the other protestors, she was summonsed and charged with breaching public order'...

    Boggarts, as you may well know, are mischievous spirits mainly found in Lancashire and Yorkshire, pranksters, agitators, who are prone to reside in damp, mossy places like the park where Pankhurst and her comrades strove to awaken the public to issues of equality and democracy, and where seemingly she caught a bad cold from all that standing around speaking.

    When we wandered through Boggart Hole Clough last October we little imagined that our feet trod the very ground where the tactics had been honed which would be used to great effect in the suffragette struggle: gaining maximum publicity by refusing to accept legal judgements; we little realised that this was the place where Emmeline Pankhurst's star first rose as she pushed herself on to the stage of national politics on her own terms rather than in support of her husband. Boggart Hole Clough: indeed, a place of history-making mischief.