Take a walk with Bring Your Baby and learn about the too seldom told “herstory” of East London.
While East London is full of fascinating stories and characters, Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation of Suffragettes or “Elfs” were truly heroines of their age. When other suffragettes settled on getting only property owning women the vote and paused to support the war effort, the more radical, and pacificist, Sylvia Pankhurst made her home in the East End.
She was determined to not only win working class women the right to vote but to improve the standard of living for mothers and children. At the time, local women were left destitute during the first world war as their husbands were off fighting in the trenches, many to never return.
Work in factories was available but there was little in the way of childcare and neither were there workers’ rights nor tenancy rights. Families lived in squalor. It was in this direst of circumstances that Sylvia rallied the women around her to fight for equality while supporting them in whatever way she could.
Being dragged to prison, force fed, and beaten became a routine of cat and mouse with local police but still, these incredible women prevailed.
Our Review of the Suffragettes of East London Guided Walk
It’s a sunny January morning when I join a group of around 20 mums and a few dads gathering outside Bow Road Tube station waiting to join the Bring Your Baby Guided Walk. My friend who has a baby (mine now a 6 year old) is running a little late but it’s fairly relaxed. Time to grab a takeaway coffee and receive a short introduction. Lucy, our guide and the founder of Bring Your Baby has an infectious enthusiasm for local history complimented by an ability to throw her voice; effortlessly commanding our attention. Her years as a primary school teacher also prevent some of us from distractedly walking into traffic as the walk progresses.
Sylvia Pankhurst is probably my favourite woman in history so I was keen to see where so much of what I had read about her took place. The tour didn’t disappoint despite the fact that much of the East End was flattened in the second world war. Luckily Lucy was brilliant at painting a picture in time, with photos and illustrations to bring scenes to life where buildings once stood.
At 11:30 am, we stopped for a break at the Nunnery Cafe giving mums and dads time to get to know each other and attend to little ones. After some great coffee and toasties, with babes fed, changed, and ready to go, we went on the second half of the walk.
The walks are really well designed to accommodate babies and our tiny companion was happily listening and watching in her buggy for most of the way. Definitely good to bring along a baby carrier as well.
I really loved seeing the location of the toy factory that Sylvia had established with an onsite creche and the tour has since added a new dimension to my neighbourhood. I also loved watching Lucy, a mum who gave up her career in education to follow her passion for local history. It’s always wonderful to see someone discover their element and deliver it so successfully.
I am curious now to discover more of the Bring Your Baby walks. Lucy covers everything from the midwives of Poplar made famous by the popular series Call the Midwife, Women of Hackney, Nursery Rhymes, and Oliver Twist’s Clerkenwell.
Following the success of the walks, Lucy and her husband also run pub quizzes near Vicky Park, Leyton, and Stoke Newington.
The Suffragettes of East London walk happens regularly. Check Lucy’s website for more info.
Walk starts: Outside Bow Road underground station, E3 4DH
Walk ends: Outside The Lord Morpeth pub, 402 Old Ford Road, E3 5NR
About Bring Your Baby Guided Walks
‘Bring Your Baby Guided London Walks’ are sensitively devised to suit parents and carers of even the tiniest babies to enjoy London’s history.
Because every participant brings their baby, patience and baby’s needs are at the forefront of each walk.
Every participant is free to stop whenever they like to feed and change – without the stress of feeling you are holding up the group.
Find out more about Lucy’s pub quizzes