Women’s rights campaigners in Merton have galvanised to make suffragette banners for the annual International Women’s Day march.

There was some special VIP attendance at the event in Merton Heritage Centre in Morden Library too – with descendants of suffragettes Emily Davison and Emmeline Pankhurst helping out with the banners yesterday, February 8.

Philippa Bilton, a great, great niece of Emily Davison, was there with Helen Pankhurst, great, great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Philippa said: “It’s been a super day – really lovely. People have donated fabric that is special to them, I myself have got a suffragette sash that my son used to wear.

“There’s also a dress made by someone who is not a feminist – one of the ladies said her sister was unhappy she was a feminist – she’s taken material from her dress so she’s coming on the march whether she likes it or not!”

The three banners all symbolise aspects of the women’s rights movement.

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One of the banners depicts Wimbledon station: green, purple and white are both the colours of the Suffragette movement and of the Wimbledon Championships.

Another one honours Rose Lamartine-Yates, an influential Wimbledon-based suffragette.

‘Time’s up!’ declares the third, calling for 2018 to be the year people ‘be the change’.

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On the previous day – the one-hundred-year anniversary of women’s suffrage – a TfL Tube sign caused outrage at Colliers Wood for a bad joke about Emily Davison:

‘History remembers her as being influential in giving women the right to vote. What history doesn’t remember is her husband, who didn’t get his tea that night!’

“Emily wasn’t married, and she wasn’t mad, and she didn’t have children,” said Philippa.

“She was trying to reach for the King’s horse’s bridle, either to petition the King or to pin a suffragette flag to it.

“Just a year before she was with other suffragettes, they were trying to catch the bridles of ponies in a field.

“Obviously, there is a huge difference between a pony and a racehorse; I think she just didn’t understand the speed and power.

“She had plans to get to a suffragette party later that afternoon and she was going to see her sister next week.”

International Women’s Day falls on March 8, but the big parade in London will happen on Sunday March 4 – it’s being called ‘March 4 Women’ and campaigners hope for numbers 10,000 strong.

Celebrities attending previous marches include Annie Lennox and Paloma Faith.

Philippa said that nowadays, even if people don’t call themselves a feminist “because of bad connotations”, the movement is mainstream.

“Some people find the word derogatory and think it describes a certain kind of woman.

“But young children I speak to are very pro-equality.”