On June 4th 1913, the suffragette Emily Davison was killed when she was struck by Geroge V's horse at the Epsom Derby.
Since 1906 Emily had been a member of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), which had been formed in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst. The Union felt strongly that militant and confrontational tactics were needed in order to achieve women's suffrage (the right for women to vote). During here activism, Emily was arrested nine times, went on hunger strike seven times and was force fed forty-nine times.
On 4 June Davison obtained two flags bearing the suffragette colours of violet, white and green from the WSPU offices. She then travelled by train to Epsom, Surrey, to attend the Derby, where she positioned herself at Tattenham Corner, the final bend before the home straight.
At this point in the race, with some of the horses having passed her, she ducked under the guard rail and ran onto the course; she may have held in her hands one of the suffragette flags. She reached up to the reins of Anmer—King George V's horse, ridden by Herbert Jones—and was hit by the animal, which would have been travelling at around 35 miles (56 km) per hour, Anmer fell in the collision and partly rolled over his jockey, Herbert Jones, who had his foot momentarily caught in the stirrup. The event was captured on three news cameras.
Those watching tried unsuccessfully to revive both Davison and Jones, they were carried off by ambulances to Epsom Cottage Hospital. Emily was operated on 2 days later but died on the 8th June from a fracture at the base of her skull. She received hate mail during here time there.
Quiet why Emily Davison attended the derby at Epsom is unknown. Theories have been suggested, including that she intended to cross the track, believing that all horses had passed; that she wanted to pull down the King's horse; that she was trying to attach one of the WSPU flags to a horse; or that she intended to throw herself in front of one of the horses.
The contemporary news media were largely unsympathetic and many publications questioned her sanity and characterised her actions as suicidal. The WSPU were quick to describe her as a martyr, part of a campaign to identify her as such. On June 14th 1913 Davison's body was transported from Epsom to London; her coffin was inscribed "Fight on. God will give the victory." Five thousand women formed a procession, followed by hundreds of male supporters,
Davison's death marked a culmination and a turning point of the militant suffragette campaign. The First World War broke out the following year and so campaigning more or less came to a halt as attention turned to the war effort. However, support for the suffragettes grew and in 1918 The Representation of the People Act was passed. The Act allowed women over the age of 30 who could pass property qualifications, to vote.n 1928 the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act extended the vote to women over 21 to put them on equal terms with male voters.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on British important events and people in British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
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