From humble beginnings, local lass Annie Kennie became a key player in the suffragette movement.
Annie was born in Saddleworth, Oldham in 1879, the fifth of twelve children of cotton working parents. She started working part-time at the age of ten and by thirteen was a full-time cardroom hand.
In 1905 she heard Christobel Pankhurst five a rousing speech about women's suffrage at a meeting in Horsedge Street, Oldham. She was so impressed that she joined the militant Women's Social and Political Unions, headed by Emmeline Pankhurst.
Later that year, Annie and Christobel set out to gain publicity at a Liberal Party meeting at MAnchester's free trade Hall. Both Women stood and asked if the Liberals would support female suffrage if elected. They were forcibly removed, but not before Annie unfurled a banner with the words VOTES FOR WOMEN. The women were arrested and jailed. Over the years Annie was imprisoned and endured hunger strikes many times for the cause.
Following the Liberal's landslide victory of 1906, Emmeline Pankhurst asked Annie to escape to Paris, leaving with Sylvia Pankhurst to mobilise support in the capital.
By 1912 militancy had escalated and Emmeline was in Jail Christobel decided to escape Paris, leaving Annie in charge of the movement,
When war was declared the suffrages ceased militant action and Anni supported the war effort.
After the war Annie settled int a quieter life. In the 1920's she married, had a son and wrotememoirs.
Man working class women were involved in the fight to win the vote for women, but Annie Kenney was the only one to be part fo the leadreship. Annie's role should be celebrated locally and nationally.
When Annie Kenney died in 1954, her shses were scattered in Saddleworth. She had come home.
Carol Talbot 2017