I keep promising you all a local Suffragist, and here she is, even if I’m lacking some of the photos I wanted to take before I started doing the writing. Having written before about Jill Liddington’s Women’s Suffrage-themed walks in Huddersfield and Halifax, one question that keeps coming to mind is that of the Suffragettes and the Suffragists and which each of us would have been if living through those times. Although, it’s far sexier to say that one would have sided with the Suffragettes, my politics are definitely more aligned with those of the Suffragists, even if I have some issues with where certain members of the modern day Fawcett Society stand on issues around Trans* inclusion.
So, while I love the stories and images around other local personalities such as Dora Thewlis, the woman that I’ve been most keen to write about is Florence Lockwood. Florence was born in Devonport near Plymouth in 1861, the daughter of a naval doctor. A talented landscape painter, she studied Fine Art at the Slade School, University College London, remaining in London afterwards to earn a living from her sketches and watercolours of wealthy patrons’ homes and estates.
In 1901, while staying with her sister, who was a nurse, Florence met widowed mill owner, Josiah Lockwood, after her sister treated his injured housekeeper at Black Rock House. Josiah proposed almost immediately and the pair were married less than a year later. At first uninterested in politics, in spite of Josiah’s introducing her to local Liberal worthies, Florence became inspired when she heard Emmeline Pankhurst speak in 1907. Although she helped other Suffragettes when they were in need, Florence did not agree with their anti-Liberal sentiments and so joined a local branch of the more moderate Suffragist organisation, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.
Florence was a very active member, and made a banner, which is on display (outside of lockdown) in the Tolson Museum, where it formed part of a major display in 2018 to celebrate 100 years since the first women were officially given the vote (one day I’ll write something about women in political life prior to the Victorian era). With the outbreak of war, however, Florence stepped back from politics, although she continued to be greatly involved in local affairs; her diaries provide an important record of life in Linthwaite and the surrounding villages at that time.
Following Josiah’s death in 1924, Florence moved back to London, where she remained until her own death in 1937, publishing an autobiography An Ordinary Life in 1932. Her ashes are interred next to Josiah’s in the graveyard of Christ Church, Linthwaite. On International Women’s Day 2020, an interpretation board detailing Florence’s life was unveiled close to the site of Black Rock House, where Florence and Josiah lived for much of their married life. Sadly the house itself was in the process of being demolished when I visited the board in June.
The second of two Huddersfield walks detailed online by Jill Liddington takes in places relevant to Florence Lockwood, and Huddersfield Local History Society has published a number of articles in their Journal relating to Florence’s life, art and writing.