Votes for women sash

Contributed by The Peoples Story Edinburgh

Suffragette sash worn by Bessie Watson for the Women's Demonstration, Edinburgh, 9 October 1909

In 1909 women could not vote for their Member of ParliamentBessie Watson was encouraged by her parents to play the bagpipes in order to strengthen her chest against disease. She and her mother were attracted into the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) shop by a sign on the window saying 'Help wanted on Saturday for the Women's Procession and Demonstration'. As Bessie played the bagpipes, something normally done by boys, she was asked to play the pipes in the Historical Tableau, on the back of the float with the Countess of Buchan in her cage. The sash, whose colours of purple, green and white denoted the WSPU (who were the most militant suffragettes) was worn by nine year old Bessie during the procession and later when she played the pipes to welcome women at Waverley Station who had been released from Holloway Jail in London under the Cat and Mouse Act. She also played the pipes outside Calton Jail.

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