Mandy Ogunmokun - Treasures Foundation

TREASURES FOUNDATION – 2011

Founded by former Holloway prisoner, and Drugs Worker Mandy Ogunmokun Treasures Foundation was started  in 2011 to aid women with substance misuse issues and housing needs.

Treasures now runs three connecting houses located in East London that are professionally staffed day and night to provide continuous individual support to nine women leaving prison. 

For more information about Mandy's own inspirational story visit here

Jocelyn Hillman - Working Chance

WORKING CHANCE – FOUNDED IN 2007

“After running employability workshops in HMP Holloway, Jocelyn Hillman,(OBE) was determined that the untapped potential of the women she met be recognised. In 2007, she founded Working Chance, a specialist recruitment consultancy for women exoffenders, to help them get quality, paid work and become financially autonomous. The charity is now based in a busy office in north London. There, a skilled team of recruitment consultants, 40% of whom are ex-offenders themselves, help women get work and employers to break down barriers to diversity. Since 2007, Working Chance has helped place more than 1000 women into jobs so that they can become role models to their children and communities."  Rai, S. (2017).

Working Chance operated from Angel, Islington and also have offices in Manchester and HMP Downview.

 

Rai, S. (2017). Jocelyn Hillman founder of Working Chance awarded OBE > Working Chance. [online] Workingchance.org. Available at: http://www.workingchance.org/AboutUs/Ourblogs/tabid/1082/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/47/Jocel yn_Hillman_founder_of_Working_Chance_awarded_OBE.aspx [Accessed 7 Jun. 2017].

Pamela Wyndham-Stewart & Born Inside

BORN INSIDE –MOTHERS &BABIES

Established by psychotherapist at Holloway Pamela Wyndham-Stewart.

Pamela worked with mothers and babies in prisons since 1996. She gained a distinction in her MA from the Tavistock Clinic, in 1998 with her dissertation “Born Inside”, a study of mothers and babies in prison.

The project is funded by the Maria Montessori Institute to provide a parental support programme for women in the Mother and Baby unit at Holloway, and now continues at HMP Bronzefield.

Una Padel & The Visitor Centre

VISITOR CENTRE – 1996

Holloway Prison's visitors' centre, was opened in 1996 as a result of the work of penal reformer Una Padel who raised money from trusts and foundations to renovate the former staff mess.

In 1993 she started a project called the London Prisons Community Links (LPCL) whose aim was to set up visitor centres at all of London's prisons. After this she founded CLINKS, an organisation whose goal was to encourage voluntary organisations to offer services in prison.

Una Padel OBEwas Director of Centre for Crime and Justice Studies between 1999 and her death from cancer in 2006 at 50.  

Centre for Crime and Justice Studies run the project Community Plan for Holloway.  Today they, along with community groups and organisations are calling for the Visitor Centre to be made available immediately for interim use for community benefit. 

 

Birth Companions & Maternity Health

BIRTH COMPANIONS  - 1996 

Concerns about prisons and maternal health provision have a long history. Occasionally the routine horrors such as women shackled while giving birth, or ambulances not called for women miscarrying permeate the public consciousness. In 1996 Channel 4 had secret cameras at the Wittington Hospital, which showed a woman only known as Annette shackled to a warden hours after birth, it lead to questions in parliament, which can be found here 

 After which followed a high profile campaign to end the use of handcuffs on female prisoners during labour. "Sheila Kitzinger, the well known childbirth sociologist, wrote an article about women prisoners giving birth without support from friends or family.

Sheila’s article inspired a small group of London-based antenatal teachers to set up the ‘Holloway Doula Group’. The group expanded to become Birth Companions and are now a registered charity with a team of staff and volunteers. 

Their services have expanded to meet the various needs As well as providing support during birth, they now work with women during pregnancy and in the postnatal period. Working in HMP Holloway for 20 years until its closure in 2016. They now run a weekly groups for pregnant women and new mothers in Bronzefield and Peterborough Prisons." (taken from Background to Birth Companions)  

Birth Companions also run community services located on the Holloway Road, at The Hub run by Hibiscus (see previous post) They have recently launched The Birth Charter for Women in Prison in England and Wales.  It is a set of recommendations for the care of pregnant women and new mothers in prison developed in consultation with our service users and with guidance from the Royal College of Midwives and UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative

Prue Stevenson & Wish (Women in Secure Hospitals)

Women at Wish 

Known as Wish, (formerly as Women in Secure Hospitals), they were founded around the same time as Women in Prison and Hibiscus (see earlier posts). Similarly Wish were born of radical roots, and have remained consistent in their rejection of co-option,  avoiding the lure of legitimacy they are steadfast in their criticism of both the prison and secure hospital systems treatment of women.  Wish had a continued presence supporting women with mental health needs in Holloway, regularly supporting women with the most severe and enduring mental health conditions on the C1 and the Day Centre. Wish support women through advocacy within the prison, meeting them at the prison gate on their release, and providing continuing support in the community.

The following history is taken from Women at Wish 'Our History' found here.


"Wish is a national charity that was set up in 1987 by Prue Stevenson, Terri Simpson and Kimberley Andrews. At the time, Prue was working in the Education Department at HMP Holloway in London. She became concerned about the high number of women whose mental health deteriorated to such an extent that they were transferred to the High Secure Hospitals, then known as Special Hospitals. Terri and Kim were former patients who had spent many years in High Secure hospitals. Female patients in these hospitals were often subjected to appalling and degrading conditions, and many didn’t require such a high level of security.

The three women got together to form Wish with the aim of supporting women still in Special Hospitals and prison psychiatric units, and to campaign to change policy and attitudes. The first office was based in London, initially serving Broadmoor and HMP Holloway, and over time branches were set up in the Midlands to serve Rampton and in the North to serve Ashworth. The women’s services at Ashworth and Broadmoor have since closed, resulting in more women being moved to lower, more appropriate, levels of security. Wish’s work to emphasise the importance of gender and the different needs of women contributed to the Department of Health strategy for women’s mental health, titled ‘Into the Mainstream’.

Today, Wish works with women at all levels of security, as well as in prisons and in the community. Over two decades after it was founded, Wish is now returning to its campaigning roots, as well as continuing to provide independent advocacy and emotional support to women with mental health needs in secure settings and in the community."

Wish have helped the women they support to submit stories to this website, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them.

 

 

Olga Heaven & Hibiscus

 

Hibiscus Initiatives

Hibiscus Initiatives* was founded in 1986 by Olga Heaven MBE. The organisation emerged at a similar time with Women in Prison, and Olga Heaven was on the board of Women in Prison. Over the same period Hibiscus ran many projects and services in Holloway. 

Hibiscus have developed a widely acknowledged specialist expertise in working with foreign national, Black and Minority Ethnic groups and migrant offenders and detainees in custody, detention and the community.

 Today Hibiscus Initiatives run a Big Lottery -funded Women Centre on Holloway Road. The Centre is a specialist women-only space created to provide tailored facilities and services and the opportunity to socialise with others who may be going through similar experiences, reducing isolation and distress. The Centre offers a range of training sessions, education classes, workshops, yoga and well-being sessions, legal clinics and one-to-one sessions with caseworkers or professionals.

For more information about Hibiscus Initiatives visit their website at http://hibiscusinitiatives.org.uk/

*Hibiscus Initiatives was formerly known as FPWP Hibiscus

 

 

Chris Tchaikovsky & Women in Prison

WOMEN IN PRISON – 1983

‘Taking the most hurt people out of society and punishing them in order to teach them how to live within society (is) futile. Whatever else a prisoner knows, she knows everything there is to know about punishment because that is exactly what she has grown up with. Whether it’s childhood sexual abuse, indifference, neglect, punishment is most family to her’ 

Chris Tchaikovsky.

Women in Prison (WIP) was established in 1983 by Chris Tchaikovsky, a former prisoner of Holloway, and academic Pat Carlen, emerging with support from Radical Alternatives to Prison (see previous post).

Chris had been in Holloway on minor offences, but during her last stay in the prison in 1974, Patricia Cummings burned herself to death in a cell. Chris learnt later another women burned herself alive in the prison and Women in Prison was originally a campaigning organisation, born out of a rage against the injustices she [Tchaikovsky] saw there. Christine Scott had died in 1982 after injuries sustained from throwing herself around her cell for up to 24 hours. A Belgian woman died the same year, refused an asthma spray or medication for a heart condition.

Women in Prison’s [WiP] original manifesto illustrates the organisation’s understanding of women as a minority in the Criminal Justice System, women making up 5% of the prison population. It sought to campaign and raise awareness of women as having differing needs in the prison system, as a means to seek to “unite women of all classes, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientation in a campaign which, whilst highlighting and attempting to redress the injustices presently suffered by Britain’s hitherto neglected women, will also contribute to the wider campaign for democratic control for the criminal justice and penal systems”

Written in 1983, WiP’s original manifesto contained ten demands for women prisoners, and ten demands for all prisoners. Encapsulating a strong desire for prisoners to self-organise and be a collective democratic instrument to subvert and redistribute power universally and democratically.  

The first point of the manifesto of women prisoners was"Improved safety conditions, particularly in Holloway Prison where women have been burned to death in their cells" The first point on the manifesto for all prisoners was the democratisation of the criminal and penal justice system in Britain. The origin story of WiP should be understood in ideological terms associated with prison abolition, collective emancipation and solidarity and while the organisation focused on campaigning to change conditions for women, they were concerned with the prison system as a whole. 

Women in Prison ran many projects and services in Holloway between their beginnings and the prisons closure in 2016. Women in Prison continues to work today, supporting women in women’s prison in England. They recently moved from their Islington base, having been located in the borough since their beginnings, due to the rise in rents and the closure of the prison. Women in Prison run Women’s Centres in Woking, Manchester and Lambeth for women who have had contact with the criminal justice system.  They have a magazine (Ready, Steady, Go) that is produced for women in prison, by women in prison, that goes into each women's prison in England, and features women's stories.  

Women in Prison have a current campaign 2,020 by 2020 focusing on a radical reduction of the women's prison population. 

Chris died in 2002 at the age of 57 from cancer, her obituary can be found here. More information about Women in Prison's early years written by Professor Pat Carlen, can be found here. 

If you have any stories or memories about Chris, or the beginnings of Women in Prison please do submit them, or get in contact with us at info@hollowayprisonstories.com 

Carlen, P. (1985). Criminal women. 1st ed. Cambridge: Polity Press

 

 

The Griffins Society

 

The Griffins Society  1965 

The Griffins Society was established in 1965 to provide hostel accommodation for women leaving Holloway, with funds from the disbanded HMP Holloway’s Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society. The name came about from the two statues that had stood at either side of the Prison gates, which were within the prison grounds, and are now at the Museum of London. 


The Griffins Society, set up the first ever female-only bail hostel Kelley House in Kings Cross. Over a period of 30 years they developed 5 hostels for women offenders, in North London, but in late 1990’s they transferred hostels to a larger voluntary organisation.  

In 1999, following a research report commissioned by the society to evaluate their work by Dr Judith Rumgay, the society took a different direction.   Her work identified a large gap in evidence-based research into the resettlement needs of women either on community sentences or coming out of prison. In 2001 they established an annual Research Fellowship Programme specifically for practitioners working with women in criminal justice, to carry out research into the treatment of women with the aim of bringing about change to both practice and policy.   Initially the society’s academic partner was  atthe London School of Economics, but since 2014 they have been in  partnership with the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge delivering about six fellowships each year on a range of subjects, and no longer only on resettlement. 

Their research findings are published on the society’s website - www.thegriffinssociety.org

 

Shoots & Roots in Holloway Prison

Women as Founders 

Women have been moved to set about addressing practical issues facing women in prison, while campaigning for systemic changes since the beginning of the prison itself (see post on Duchess of Bedford). The heritage of Holloway Prison as a prison, as a site of resistance is important to the development of a Women’s Building. Resistance comes in many forms, which includes growing pockets of support in the face of immeasurable difficulty.  Keeping going, despite being knocked back, locked out, tested to the last. While at times A Women’s Building might feel like an impossible dream, we already know is that Holloway inspired the birth of these organisations and projects, despite the odds. 

The majority of the organisations listed join in the call for a Women’s Building on the site, and having worked together in Holloway for decades. It is easy to see how a Women’s Building could provide a good home for further cross pollination of future ideas, collaborations no longer constrained by prison walls. Some organisations were born of radical, anti prison roots while others are more easily understood as emerging from within the system, and reformist in their approach, all believed in the importance of specialist provision for women.

Spanning from 1965 right up to 2016, the following posts will focus on some of the women who inspired by what they witnessed in the prison, started their own projects or organisations to address issues ranging from education, to maternal healthcare.  Featuring The Griffins, Women in Prison, Hibiscus Initiatives, Women at Wish, Birth Companions, The Visitor Centre, Born Inside, Working Chance, Treasures Foundation, HUT. Projects that now live on, having supported thousands of women, where once they were but an impossible dream.

While we focus on the women and the projects, it must be said that while on the one hand the difficult circumstances of the prison inspired these projects, on the other hand the prisons cooperation and willingness to work with community projects sustained them.

This is not an exhaustive list  of those inspired by the prison to establish something, please submit to info@hollowayprisonstories.com if you think we should be including women, projects or organisations you know of.

Any Women’s Building that will emerge from the legacy of Holloway Prison, will be built on the shoulders of the following women, and will be sustained on the shoulders of women to come.

GREENHAM COMMON PROTESTERS – 1982

“On August 27 1981, 36 women and four men, aged between 25 and 80, and a few children left Cardiff to walk the 120 miles to Greenham Common - it took them 10 days. They had produced a leaflet: "Why are we walking 120 miles from a nuclear weapons factory in Cardiff to a site for Cruise missiles in Berkshire?" The other side showed a picture of a dead baby, deformed by radiation, in Hiroshima.” Women’s Peace Movement that grew up in protest against the siting of American Cruise missiles at RAF Greenham Common to a stage where 35,000 Women surrounded the base. Women were dragged along tarmac roads and thrown into ditches as they tried to stop preparations for the missiles to be brought along the roads and through the gates into the base. The women began to sing 'You can't kill the spirit' as they were dragged away and flung into the mud at the side of the banks They organised a sit-down in the central lobby of Parliament and sang protest songs against Cruise. They produced arguments against a law of 1362 being used to evict them from the camp, climbed up on top of Holloway prison in support of those imprisoned inside, and managed to get their case against the Greenham Cruise missiles brought before the Federal Court in the US. Amongst those arrested and imprisoned in Holloway wereNelly Logan, 72, the oldest of the jailed women peace campaigners, A number of Greenham Common protesters were jailed for two weeks including Lynette Edwell, Susan Lamb, Denise Brinkworth, and Lynne Fortte. Susan Cox and Dinah John snowball campaigners, who refused to pay the fine after cutting the fence at Sculthorpe RAF were sentenced to Holloway for 14 days, and self published a pamphlet entitled ‘Holloway for Beginners

 01 Mar 1983 friends and supporter waited outside the prison for the campaigners to be released.

“Greenham acted as a powerful catalyst for a range of issues. Women's networks had spread -to campaigning against the destruction of the Pacific Islands, the growth of militarism, the food mountains, and they were taking action against corporations which supported apartheid and the commercial exploitation of pornography. Women from Greenham went to Zimbabwe and Nicaragua, to the US and the Soviet Union and linked up with other women. They had supported the miners during the strike of 1984 and striking miners had visited Greenham.”

 Lyn Barlow, a member of the Greenham peace camp, regularly smuggled out letters and stories from prisoners ‘desperate to have the conditions they were experiencing brought to the attention of the media and campaign groups.’ Helen John, who was jailed at Holloway twice for breach of the peace, came to believe that ‘it almost should be a responsibility of well educated people to go to prison, then they can see for themselves what it is that's wrong with the system and come out and do something about it.’ This is what, she says, the women from Greenham did, by revealing the ‘horrors of psychologically disturbed prisoners’ on C1 who were ‘heavily tranquilized and ridiculed.’ ‘I felt I related more to other women prisoners than to my Greenham “compatriots”. I had spent most of my childhood in care and realised that, if I had trodden a different path other than Greenham, I would have probably ended up in prison anyway ‘

the Guardian. (2017). The Greenham Common peace camp and its legacy. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/sep/05/greenham5 [Accessed 7 Jun. 2017].

Maydayrooms.org. (2017). MayDay Rooms » Greenham Common Women’s Peace Movement. [online] Available at: http://maydayrooms.org/archives/greenham-common-womens-peace-movement/ [Accessed 7 Jun. 2017].

The Guardian. (2017). The Greenham Common peace camp and its legacy. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/sep/05/greenham5 [Accessed 7 Jun. 2017].

Davies, Caitlin – Personal Correspondence – book on history of Holloway pending publication

 Barlow, L. (2015). How I met Chris. In Women in Prison Magazine, Ready, Steady Go [online] Available at: http://www.womeninprison.org.uk/perch/resources/lyn-barlow-84-87.pdf [Accessed 7 Jun. 2017]

SPARE RIB ARTICLE – 1972

Spare Rib was a second-wave feminist magazine in the United Kingdom that emerged from the counter culture of the late 1960s Spare Rib is now recognised as an iconic magazine, and a place which shaped debate about feminism in the UK. It contained new writing and creative contributions which challenged stereotypes and supported collective solutions. The magazine existed between 1972 and 1993.” In issue 001 of Spare Rib, published in 1972 it featured an article entitled ‘Rapping on Holloway’ about the Radical Alternatives to Prisons report on the prison.

Link to copy of the article about Holloway

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/spare-rib-magazine-issue-001

‘RADICAL ALTERNATIVES TO PRISONS’ (RAP).

Were critical of punitive responses issues of inequalities, they felt strongly that punishment/prison was an inadequate method of achieving behaviour change.  RAP convened a conference on women in prison. From this meeting a campaign was organised against the rebuilding of Holloway women's prison as a secure hospital which would have minimal custodial facilities. There were demonstrations and exhibitions and a pamphlet, Alternatives to Holloway, was published in May 1972. The pamphlet pointed to the facts of female crime and argued that too many women were remanded unnecessarily in custody, that many offences could be dealt with by other means, and that women should not be imprisoned for offences such as alcoholism, child cruelty and petty theft. Instead, RAP suggested that community-based projects should be introduced which would 'make prison for women seem irrelevant'. The new Holloway was a £6 million 'folly' which would detain women 'unnecessarily labelled as criminal and then treat them in an institutional setting which was almost bound to fail' (Ryan, 1978, pp. 102- 5)”. While the campaign was not successful it did significantly raise the profile of the treatment of women in prison over the next fifteen years and where a proliferation of academic work on the topic emerged, which eventually contributed to conditions improving.

Reclaim Holloway, a campaign group with Intersectional Feminist. Abolitionist, Anti Carceral principles and are calling for the Public Land that Holloway is built on to be used to built community solutions that would reduce the use of incarceration. They are campaigning against the Ministry of Justices desire to sell the land at the highest value to public new prisons further way. 

Over 40 years later Reclaim Holloway are suggesting similar solutions to Radical Alternatives to Prison, social housing, a Women's Building, and that money is not pumped into building prisons.

Holloway's heritage has shown us that the 'old for new' prison building project has already been tried and tested and failed. Why repeat the mistakes of the past, when we have a moment in time to take a different road. 

You can follow Reclaim Holloway on twitter at @reclaimholloway or visit the campaign website

Sim, J. (2017). The abolitionist approach: a British perspective (Part One of Two). [online] Nomoreprison.blogspot.co.uk. Available at: http://nomoreprison.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/abolitionistapproach-british.html [Accessed 7 Jun. 2017].

RE-BUILDING HOLLOWAY

In 1968, when plans were announced for the reorganisation of the women’s prison system, Holloway was singled out for redevelopment. The aim of this scheme was to provide better facilities for the treatment of women in prison, who needed care not punishment. Although some argued that the prison should be moved outside London, the Prison Department thought it was important to keep links with the local area and with medical expertise in particular. The desire to stay in Islington was also to do with ideas about the site’s future. In the 1960s, the numbers of women in prison were low and seemed to be falling: the Prison Department thought it was possible that in a few decades, there wouldn’t be any need for a women’s prison. Their intention was to design an institution that could be converted into a hospital or treatment centre if a prison was no longer needed. Of course, this didn’t happen. But now that the prison is closed, we have a good opportunity to continue the tradition of the site’s use as a space for women -just this time outside the Criminal Justice System, as was envisaged in the 1960s. From a heritage perspective, the arguments for locating a Women’s Building on the Holloway site are strong - the land has been the focus of campaigns for better conditions for women for over a century. The site has seen the provision of some services for women within prison, but also hundreds of campaigns for change - whether that’s ending the handcuffing of pregnant women, remembering those who have died in prison, or arguing against the violence of the prison system

COMMITTEE OF 100

Helen Allegranza, a Quaker and pacifist and leading member of the Committee of 100, a group dedicated to nuclear disarmament. The only women from the committee to be imprisoned, was sentenced in 1962 to twelve months in Holloway following Special Branch raids on the Committee offices.

Her trial had exposed the extent and seriousness of the Committee’s call for mass civil disobedience against Britain’s nuclear policy. Humiliated by her prison sentence, Helen Allegranza took her own life. 

Weyman, D. (2017). Watching, waiting cease. [online] Compusmall.co.uk. Available at: http://www.compusmall.co.uk/benedictsark/index.php/stephen-batty/116-watching-waiting-cease [Accessed 7 Jun. 2017].

SECOND WORLD WAR PACIFIST & PRISON MEDICAL REFORM COUNCIL

In the mid-twentieth century members of the Prison Medical Reform Council published accounts of medical care in prisons including Holloway. Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, a British crystallographer, is an important figure in the history of women in science. For example, she was one of the two first women to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1945 and she was the first female president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. She was a pacifist and during the Second World War she was imprisoned for one month in Holloway for refusing to register for civil defence duties. In 1943 she recounted details of her time in the prison in a publication by the Prison Medical Reform Council. She spoke of the conditions facing women, including those related to medical care and the lack of adequate sanitary care provisions. 

 

IRISH REVOLUTIONARY REPUBLICANS

In 1918 Maud Gonne was arrested and imprisoned in Holloway along with Countess Constance Markievicz revolutionary Irish nationalists, suffragette and socialists. They were accused of being involved in the “German Plot” when it was alleged that they were in league with Germany against Britain. Countess Constance Markievicz (nee Gore Booth) was in elected Sinn Fein MP for Dublin St Patricks from her cell in Holloway prison. Becoming the first women elected MP to British House of Commons Westminster, beating her opponent with 66% of the vote. She was imprisoned in Holloway during the first Dail (Parliament) in Ireland in 1919. Called as those elected in the 1918 General Election refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom. When her name as read out in the Dail she was cited as being "imprisoned by the foreign enemy". She became both the first Irish female Cabinet Minister and at the same time, only the second female government minister in Europe. Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Margaret Cousin (nee Gillespie) both served time in Holloway and were founding member of the Irish Women’s Workers Union and The Irish Citizen a feminist newspaper and Irish Women's Franchise League Maud Gonne McBride wrote in a letter from Holloway "I have asked repeatedly since the day of my arrival here to see a Solicitor, but I am not allowed. We are not allowed Irish or Labour papers. No charge has been brought against us, yet we are shut up in cells seven feet by 13, with window too high to see out of, and [an] air opening about half a foot, 18 hours out of 24. We meet in the exercise yard while cells are being cleared and for about an hour in the afternoon” As Civil War broke out in Ireland in 1922, Maud Gonne founded the Women’s Prisoners’ Defence league with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Charlotte Despard “for the help, comfort and release of” Republican prisoners. They campaigned and fundraised for over 7000 republicans who were imprisoned as a consequence of the Irish Civil War. The organization of “mothers” as Maud called them, was banned a year later. The group also introduced the lily as a symbol of the Rising of Easter 1916. The lily is still used today by Irish Republicans to remember the rebellion and those that died.

Bennett, R. (2017). Personal Correspondence
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_D%C3%A1il https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constance_Markievicz http://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/the-words-of-maud-gonne-macbride-from-her-prison-cell- 34576989.html

WOMEN’S FREEDOM LEAGUE

The Women’s Freedom League was a group founded in 1907. Its members included women who had been part of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) but disagreed with some of the violent tactics employed by them. Following its creation, the Women’s Freedom League established 60 branches and had around 4000 members in Britain. Some of its members were imprisoned in Holloway during the women’s suffrage movement of the early twentieth century. In addition to campaigning for votes for women, the League also regularly petitioned the Secretary of State and the Home Office over the conditions facing women in prison, notably in Holloway. They raised concerns over the health care provisions for women in prison but also campaigned for the appointment of women to more senior roles in women’s prisons, especially in Holloway. They also held several demonstrations outside of Holloway in the first half of the twentieth century. Although these demonstrations were often in protest to conditions in the prison, they spoke to wider issues surrounding women’s rights and again demonstrate the centrality of the site, physically and symbolically, to this important part of British history

THE MARCH OF THE WOMEN

"The March of the Women" was a song composed by Ethel Smyth in 1910, to words by Cicely Hamilton. "The March of the Women" was first performed on 21 January 1911, by the Suffrage Choir, at a ceremony held on Pall Mall, London, to celebrate a release activists from prison. A famous rendering of it took place in 1912, at Holloway Prison, after many women activists were imprisoned as a result of a window-smashing campaign. Smyth's part in this had been to break the window of Lewis Harcourt, the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The conductor Thomas Beecham visited Smyth in prison and reported that he found the activists in the courtyard "...marching round it and singing lustily their war chant while the composer, beaming approbation from an overlooking upper window, beat time in almost Bacchic frenzy with a toothbrush." While Emmeline Pankhurst undertook her hunger strike which she did not expect to survive. She told Smyth that at night she would feebly sing "The March of the Women".

The March of the Women

"Dedicated to the Women's Social and Political Union”

Shout, shout, up with your song!
Cry with the wind, for the dawn is breaking;
March, march, swing you along,
Wide blows our banner, and hope is waking.
Song with its story, dreams with their glory
Lo! they call, and glad is their word!
Loud and louder it swells,
Thunder of freedom, the voice of the Lord!

Long, long—we in the past
Cowered in dread from the light of heaven,
Strong, strong—stand we at last,
Fearless in faith and with sight new given.
Strength with its beauty, Life with its duty,
(Hear the voice, oh hear and obey!)
These, these—beckon us on!
Open your eyes to the blaze of day.


Comrades—ye who have dared
First in the battle to strive and sorrow!
Scorned, spurned—nought have ye cared,
Raising your eyes to a wider morrow,
Ways that are weary, days that are dreary,
Toil and pain by faith ye have borne;
Hail, hail—victors ye stand,
Wearing the wreath that the brave have worn!
 

Life, strife—those two are one,
Naught can ye win but by faith and daring.
On, on—that ye have done
But for the work of today preparing.
Firm in reliance, laugh a defiance,
(Laugh in hope, for sure is the end)
March, march—many as one,
Shoulder to shoulder and friend to friend

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_March_of_the_Women

With thanks to Caitlin Davis