Britain c1903-1928

Origins and effects of the Liberal Reforms

This revision podcast presents an overview of the Liberal Reforms in Britain.

The episode begins with an explanation of the situation before the reforms, and why they were introduced.  Reference is made to social research at the time, key politicians, the impact of the Boer War, Britain’s industrial situation, and the effect of voting reforms in the late 19th Century.

The podcast then goes on to explain what the reforms did to improve life for four key groups – children, old people, the unemployed, and workers.  Finally, advice and examples are given for writing a balanced answer on how successful (or unsuccessful) the Liberal Reforms were.

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British civilians in the First World War

This GCSE revision podcast presents an overview of the impact of World War 1 on British civilians.

The episode is split into two key sections – recruitment and government powers.  When you have listened to the podcast, you may like to check out the British Civilians in WW1 PowerPoint.

Beginning with the popular excitement at the outbreak of war, the podcast explains how the British army recruited soldiers to join the army from the early days of voluntary recruitment through to the introduction of conscription in 1916.  There is then an explanation of the effect of conscription on British society, which referenced conscientious objectors.  For information on the role of women in the First World War, check out the podcast about women and the right the vote.

The second part of the podcast presents an overview of the different powers granted to the government under the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA).  The effect of DORA on the civilian population of Britain is also assessed, with a particular focus on the causes and consequences of rationing.  The podcasts ends with an explanation of how propaganda and censorship were used in Britain during the First World War.

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The Brown Family’s Four War Christmases cartoon

This cartoon by G M Payne, originally published in Sunday Pictorial on 23 December 1917, shows the changes experienced by a British family as the First World War progressed. It’s a great resource to use for the basis of a lesson about the effects of the war on the British Home Front, and to show how attitudes to the war changed over time. The annual Christmas tableau begins with the optimistic attitude of 1914 and ends in 1917 as rationing takes hold.

I’ve put together a very simple PowerPoint looking at each frame in turn that you can download here. This works well as a lesson to recap the Home Front. Students identify the changes and, based on their knowledge, explain why those changes happened. A written task could be to describe and explain the changes between the first and last frame in the context of the British Home Front.

Ed Podesta has an excellent lesson using the same cartoon to explore the significance of the war on different aspects of life in Britain. You can find the resources for that lesson here.

Download a copy of The Brown Family’s Four War Christmases cartoon here

Download a PowerPoint that could form the basis of a lesson exploring the changes in the British Home Front here

Suffragettes

Women and the right to vote

This revision podcast aims to explain the different factors that contributed to women gaining the right to vote in Britain.

The podcast is split into two main sections – the effect of the Suffragists and the Suffragettes on the movement for votes for women, and the role of women in the First World War.

The first part begins by outlining the origins and methods of the Suffragists, which are then contrasted with the methods of the more forthright Suffragette movement.  The effects of their actions are assessed, with particular consideration given to the impact on government officials and wider public opinion as the Suffragette campaign resorted to hunger-strikes in prison.

The second part of the presents an overview of the role of women in World War One.  A short description is given of the role of women on boosting the number of recruits for the army, followed by an assessment of the the effect of women who entered the workplace to take up jobs that had been vacated by men going off to fight.  To revise how the First World War affected the rest of the population, check out the podcast about British civilians in the First World War.

The podcast ends with a description of the Representation of the People Act, which marked a shift in British politics to begin giving women a voice.

You may wish to also download the Women and the Right to Vote PowerPoint, and can test yourself using the Votes for Women practice questions.

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Suffragette

The foundation of the Women’s Social & Political Union

On the 10th October 1903 the Women’s Social and Political Union, whose members came to be known as suffragettes, was founded at the Manchester home of Sylvia and Emmeline Pankhurst.

Frustrated by the lack of progress made by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies from whom the group had split, the WSPU soon became known for its militant and sometimes violent actions under the motto “Deeds, not words”.

The WSPU did not seek universal suffrage, rather votes for women on the same basis as votes for men. Considering many men at the time were denied the vote due to the property qualifications, the proposals by the WSPU were seen by some not as “votes for women” but “votes for ladies”. The WSPU even split from the Labour Party after Labour voted in favour of universal suffrage, leading the suffragettes to became more explicitly middle-class.

However, the actions of the suffragettes soon brought into question the traditional ideas of ladylike behavior as they were routinely arrested for various activities that were designed to shock the refined members of the establishment. It was to distinguish these actions from the more genteel suffrage groups that the Daily Mail newspaper reporter Charles Hands coined the term ‘suffragette’ to describe members of the WSPU.

Actions such as window breaking and arson routinely saw members of the WSPU imprisoned, where they would often go on hunger strike and be subjected to force-feeding by the authorities. However, the best known action is probably that of Emily Davison who was killed after stepping in front of the King’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.

Overview of Emily Davison being hit by a racehorse at Epson Derby

On the 4th June 1913, suffragette Emily Wilding Davison was hit by King George V’s racehorse at the Epsom Derby after she stepped onto the track. She died four days later from a fractured skull and other internal injuries.

Davison joined the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1906, and soon began to take part in their militant and confrontational activities that were designed to win the right to vote for women. She quickly developed a reputation as a particularly violent campaigner, and was imprisoned nine times for various illegal activities. During her prison sentences she went on hunger strike, and so was subjected to force-feeding by the prison authorities.

The Epson Derby is a highlight of the British horseracing calendar, and historians agree that Davison wanted to use the event to draw attention to the women’s suffrage movement. Newsreel footage of the event showed Davison ducking under the barrier and running onto the track as the horses began to race past her. She tried to grab the bridle of one of the last horses – which happened to be the King’s horse, Anmer – but was thrown to the ground by the force of the horse and trampled by its hooves.

Most people hold the view that Davison did not intend to martyr herself, but rather to attach a Votes For Women scarf to the horse. Various pieces of evidence support this view, including the return portion of a train ticket found in her purse. However, she did not share her plan with anyone so her true intentions will never be known.

Women WW1 home front

The British Home Front in WW1

Enlisting for the army in the First World War

A short video extract showing German and British attitudes to the outbreak of war, and how these influenced men to join the army.

The role of women in the First World War