Annie Kenney (13 September 1879 – 9 July 1953) was born the fourth child out of 12 to working class parents in the old borough of Oldham and from the age of 10 worked part time in the cotton mills while being educated in school.
At the age of 13 she then worked at the mill full time as a ‘tenter’ a weavers assistant and she also tended to the strands of fleece as well as fitting the bobbins.
This was a dangerous job and one of her fingers was ripped off as a result.
She worked at the mill for another 15 years where she furthered her education through self-study and became actively involved in trade unions and was a regular church attender.
In 1905 she attended speech done by Christabel Pankhurst and then got actively involved in the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
During a Liberal rally at the Free Trade Hall she and Christobel interrupted a meeting attended by Churchill and Sir Edward Grey, they asked if they thought women should have the right to vote.
They held up a banner and were then arrested for obstruction and assaulting a police officer.
Annie was arrested in total 13 times during her lifetime for various charges and as a part of the suffragette’s militant campaigns through criminal damage and setting fire to letter boxes.
Annie was the only working-class women to rise high in the ranks of the hierarchy of the WSPU. She endured the barbaric regime of force feeding in prison which had long term impact on her health.
At the start of WW1 the suffragette movement ceased and Annie concentrated her efforts on encouraging trade unions to support the war effort.
She took her message as far as America, France and Australia and married James Taylor and had a son in 1921.
She died in hospital in 1953 from diabetes.