Remembering how Emily said ‘on your bike’ to inequality

Emily Inspires! day in Morpeth.'Participants in the cycle ride. Ref:JCMH 150613emily88
Emily Inspires! day in Morpeth.'Participants in the cycle ride. Ref:JCMH 150613emily88

WOMEN put pedal power into action to take to the roads in a Bikes and Bonnets Cycle Ride.

The event was organised as part of the Emily Inspires programme to recognise the importance of bicycles to Suffragettes, who used them to travel between communities and spread their messages.

Around 50 women signed up for the ride from Longhorsley, where campaigner Emily Davison lived with her mother, to Morpeth, and even some men were tempted along.

Children, including pupils from Longhorsley St Helen’s First School, joined the cyclists at Chantry Middle School for the final stretch of the ride into Carlisle Park, where they were presented with medals by Morpeth Mayor Joan Tebbutt and Geoffrey Davison, the head of the Davison family.

Bike ride organiser Philippa Raper, of Janus Creative, said: “It has been brilliant. We must have had 50 people registered to take part and even more joined in.

“We had mothers and daughters and a husband and wife on a tandem, although that broke down and they had to get on ordinary bikes.

“It has been really lovely. There was a fantastic atmosphere and people really enjoyed it and got into the spirit of it.”

She added: “There was also a serious point to it – bicycles were essential to the Suffragette campaign because they meant they could get about freely.

“When this first kicked off I got an email from someone saying they wanted to take part, but they were worried about traffic and wearing long skirts on the bike.

“Purely by chance I found a letter from Mrs Pankhurst saying that women wanted to go cycling, but they were worried about the traffic and their skirts so cycling was considered quite dangerous, but it was probably the first time that women could be independent.

“The Suffragette movement used bicycles to spread publicity about meetings and campaigns and the bikes would be decorated in Suffragette colours.

“What we have done is a tribute to that.”

Mrs Raper thanked WATBike for its support in helping to organise the event.