Location: Parish Hall, Church Street
Sponsor: Catherine Thomas.

Emmeline Pankhurst Blue Plaque LlanelliEmmeline PankhurstElectioneering campaigns of a hundred years ago were a very different activity to those of today. Then, with no radio or television to reach their constituents with their policies, the politicians had to address the public personally in parks, theatres, halls, schoolrooms and literally, on their ‘soap boxes'.

Campaigning then was a very dangerous affair, none more so than the political rallies held in Llanelli during the by-election caused by the appointment of Mr Llewelyn Williams MP to the Recordership of Swansea in January 1912. One speaker, addressing the public in Town Hall Square from the top of a wagon on the ‘Tariff Reform’, had his platform dragged around the square to the cheers and laughter of the crowd.

The suffragettes did not fare any better, for a similar attack was made on their vehicle, on that occasion the female occupants narrowly escaped a ducking in the River Lliedi by escaping down Old Castle Road. These brave ladies of the ‘Votes for women brigade’ had a very difficult challenge ahead of them especially in the male dominated town of ‘Tinopolis’. Two factions of the suffrage cause had set up camp in Llanelli. The ‘National Union of Women’s Suffrage’ had opened committee rooms in Stepney Street, opposite the YMCA. They disapproved of the illegal and militant methods of those associated with Mrs Pankhurst who distinguished themselves by interrupting political meetings. The militant suffragists had their base in an office at the Arcade and were known as the ‘Women’s Social and Political Union’.

While addressing a packed meeting at Park Street School, the Suffragette speaker Mrs Cowmeadow, was heckled by the mob. Every time she attempted to address the audience she was met with the singing of ‘Sospan Fach’ and the ringing of the school bell forced the abandonment of the event. On Thursday 18 January 1912, another group of the women were addressing a crowd outside the Western Tinplate Works when they were attacked by a group of youths pelting snowballs, forcing the valiant ladies to beat a swift retreat on their wagon. Speaking afterwards, Miss Barrett dismissed the assault with nonchalance, stating that ‘snowballs were not as bad as rotten eggs’.

News of the events in the town that week would have crossed the mind of Mrs Pankhurst, as she journeyed from Carmarthen to Llanelli to address the townspeople on Saturday 20th January 1912. Any fears of disruption or disorder were unfounded, as the authorities and organisers had taken preventative action by limiting the numbers of those attending the venue and had provided an adequate number of stewards to keep order. The meeting was planned to start at 8pm with Miss Barrett presiding.

On Mrs Pankhurst’s arrival at the Parish Hall, Llanelli, she was greeted with the sounds of a rattle and a toy trumpet. Although the audience at the meeting heckled and barracked the formidable lady, Mrs Pankhurst’s fine eloquence was more than a match for them, the opposition that she met with was of a very trifling nature, while many of her arguments were met with derisive cheers she appeared to have carried the day, for “Mrs Pankhurst’s pleading tones saved the situation each time”. One eye witness commenting on the event said “I can quite understand the pre-eminent position Mrs Pankhurst has secured for herself in the Women’s Suffrage movement”. Another stated, “Perhaps the most surprising incident is the excellent reception which the far-famed Mrs Pankhurst received on Saturday at the Parish Hall. I had the pleasure of hearing this great apostle of Women’s Suffrage. She is a very able and very effective speaker and made out an extremely strong case”. The South Wales Press commented “That Mrs Pankhurst had a very good hearing at Llanelli” She subsequently went on to speak at a meeting in the Higher Elementary School, where a window was smashed by some youths who were refused admission. By 1928 women over 21 finally got the vote - that same year the first woman crossed the Atlantic Ocean in an aeroplane.

Click here for the unveiling of the Blue Plaque for Emmeline Pankhurst


Safle : Neuadd y Plwyf, Stryd yr Eglwys.
Noddwr: Catherine Thomas.

Roedd ymgyrchoedd etholiadau yn weithgaredd gwahanol gan mlynedd yn ôl i’r hyn y mae heddiw. Heb na radio na theledu i gyrraedd eu hetholwyr gyda’u polisïau, bu’n rhaid i’r gwleidyddion annerch y cyhoedd yn bersonol yn y parciau, theatrau, neuaddau, ysgoldai ac yn llythrennol are u bocs sebon. Roedd ymgyrchu'r adeg honno yn fater peryglus iawn fel y profwyd gan y ralïau gwleidyddol yn Llanelli yn ystod yr isetholiad oherwydd apwyntiad Mr Llewelyn Williams yn Gofnodwr Abertawe ym mis Ionawr 1912.Tynnwyd llwyfan un siaradwr, wrth annerch y cyhoedd yn Sgwâr Neuadd y Dref o ben wagen ar ‘Ddiwygio Trethi’ o gwmpas y sgwâr i floeddiadau a chwerthin y dorf.

Doedd ffawd y swffragetiaid namyn yn well. Fe waned ymosodiad tebyg ar eu cerbyd a bu bron i’r menywod ar ei fwrdd ddioddef trochiad yn yr Afon Lliedi trwy ddianc i lawr Ffordd yr Hen Gastell. Wynebai’r menywod dewr hyn her anodd iawn yn arbennig mewn tref fel Tinopolis a reolwyd gan ddynion. Cododd dwy garfan swffragét eu pencadlys yn Llanelli. Agorodd ‘Undeb Cenedlaethol Swffragetiaid’ ystafelloedd pwyllgor yn Stryd Stepney cyferbyn a’r YMCA. Doedden nhw ddim yn cytuno gyda dulliau anghyfreithlon a milwriaethus carfan Mrs Pankhurst a oedd yn enwog am darfu ar gyfarfodydd gwleidyddol. Roedd pencadlys y swffragetiaid milwriaethus yn yr Arced ac fe’i hadnabuwyd fel ‘Undeb Cymdeithasol a Gwleidyddol y menywod’

Wrth annerch cyfarfod llawn yn Eglwys heol y Parc, tarfwyd ar siaradwraig y swffragetiaid Mrs Cowmeadow gan y dorf. Pob tro iddi geisio annerch y gynulleidfa fe ganwyd Sosban Fach. Bu’n rhaid rhoi’r gorau i’r cyfarfod ar ganiad cloch yr ysgol. Ar ddydd Iau Ionawr 18fed 1912, roedd grŵp arall o fenywod yn annerch torf y tu allan i Waith Tunplad Western pan ymosodwyd arnyn nhw gan giwed o bobl ifanc yn taflu peli eira. Bu’n rhaid i’r menywod dewr gilio yn ôl i’w wagen. Yn siarad wedyn, diystyriwyd yr ymosodiad gan Miss Barrett gan ddweud nad oedd peli eira cynddrwg ag wyau clwc.

Byddai newyddion o’r digwyddiadau yn y dref yr wythnos honno wedi croesi meddwl Mrs Pankhurst wrth iddi deithio o Gaerfyrddin i Lanelli i annerch pobl y dref ar ddydd Sadwrn Ionawr 20fed 1912. Di-sail oedd ofn unrhyw aflonyddwch neu anrhefn gan fod y trefnwyr a’r awdurdodau gymryd camau ataliol gan gyfyngu ar y nifer yn y dorf ac wedi darparu nifer ddigonol o stiwardiaid er mwyn cadw trefn. Y bwriad oedd dechrau’r cyfarfod am 8yh gyda Miss Barrett yn llywyddu.

Wrth i Mrs Pankhurst gyrraedd Neuadd y Plwyf Llanelli, fe’i cyfarchwyd a sain rhuglo ac utgorn plentyn. Er i’r gynulleidfa weiddi a bloeddio ar y fenyw arswydus, bu huodledd cain Mrs Pankhurst yn fwy na digon i’w trechu ac ymddengys iddi ennill y dydd gyda’i dadlau brwd a’i naws ymbilgar. Meddai un llygad dyst “gallaf ddeall safle digyffelyb Mrs Pankhurst o fewn mudiad y swffragetiaid”. Meddai un arall “efallai mai’r digwyddiad mwyaf rhyfedd yw’r croeso bendigedig gafodd yr enwog Mrs Pankhurst dydd Sadwrn yn Neuadd y Plwyf. Cefais y pleser o glywed apostol gwych y swffragetiaid. Mae hi’n siaradwraig alluog ac effeithiol iawn ac roedd ei hachos yn un gadarn”. Sylwadau Gwasg De Cymru oedd i Mrs Pankhurst dderbyn gwrandawiad da iawn yn Llanelli. Aeth ymlaen i siarad mewn cyfarfod yn yr Ysgol Uwch Elfennol, ble chwalwyd ffenest gan bobl ifanc na chawsant fynediad. Erbyn 1928 enillodd menywod dros 21 yr hawl i bleidleisio - yr un flwyddyn yn union i’r fenyw gyntaf groesi’r Iwerydd mewn awyren.

Article by Lyn John Vice Chairman Llanelli Community Heritage / Erthygl gan Lyn John Is-gadeirydd Treftadaeth Cymuned Llanelli.

Notes / Nodiadau

The Llanelly and County Guardian’ 25 January / Ionawr 1912 (see ‘Man About Town’)

 

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