Pankhurst's Portable Punch Him Judy Booth

Pankhurst's Portable Punch Him Judy Booth - 1910

In 1906 the term Suffragette was in the Daily Mail to describe the members of Women's organisations who fought for women's suffrage under the banner of "Votes For Women". The word was readily embraced; in 1908 the co-editor of the Votes For Women newspaper designed a colour scheme to identify Suffragettes - purple for loyalty and dignity, white for purity and green for hope.  Fashionable London shops sold ranges of the tricolour items to help support the Suffragette movement but publicity and funds were raised in more unusual ways.

In 1909 a board game, the ‘Pank-A-Squith’ was produced featuring a spiral board, the object being to lead a suffragette figure from the start to parliament in the centre thus toppling the government. Around the same time two suffragettes tried to post themselves by Royal mail to Downing Street, this however failed in its attempt. More successful was the travelling entertainment and none more so than Pankhurst’s Portable Retribution, more commonly known as the Punch Him Judy Booth.

Wheeled into town squares and seaside destinations, ladies with particularly difficult and untrained husbands were encouraged to entice them along to the seemingly harmless show where they experienced a tirade of ridicule and stylised violence from a Pankhurst Puncher that battered them into submission, usually making them part with large sums of money to stop the show and to utter expletives such as ‘My god! Not the pointy end!’ and ‘Oooff! You have smashed my scruttock sack!’

Men who survived the battering were awarded tri-coloured medals in purple, white and green which coincidentally matched the colour of their scruttock sacks. Those that didn’t survive became useless wrecks unable to function in society so ultimately ran for government positions where they were greeted with open arms.