Sarah Reddish

Fantasy CV


Born Bolton, 1850. Pioneering socialist and radical feminist. Highly experienced campaigner, events manager and health promoter, passionate about improving the lives of working women. Exceptional organisational skills and impressive public speaker.


Left school aged 11.

Positions held

  • Silk weaver (assistant to mother)
  • Winder and reeler, cotton mill
  • Forewoman, hosiery mill
  • President, Bolton Women’s Cooperative Guild (1886–1906)
  • Regional organiser, Women’s Cooperative Guild in the North of England (1893–1895)
  • Speaker, Clarion Movement (1896)
  • President, National Women’s Cooperative Guild (1897)
  • Committee member, Bolton Association for the Return of Women as Poor Law Guardians (1897)
  • Organiser, Women’s Trade Union League (1899)
  • Committee member, Lancashire and Cheshire Women’s Textile and Other Workers’ Representative Committee (1890s)
  • Board member, Bolton School (1900)
  • Petition worker and executive committee member, North of England Society for Women’s Suffrage (1900)
  • Co-founder, Lancashire and Cheshire Textile and Other Workers’ Representation Committee (1903)
  • Treasurer, Lancashire and Cheshire Textile and Other Workers’ Representation Committee (1903–1913)
  • Member, Bolton Suffrage Society (1908)
  • Poor Law Guardian, Bolton (1905–1921)
  • Founder, Babies Welcome clinic, Bolton (1908)
  • Facilitator, public speaking classes (1911)
  • President, Manchester and Salford Women’s Trade Society (1911)
  • Committee member, National Conference for Women (1915)
  • Project manager, Bolton Women’s Citizens Association (1919)

Career highlights

  • 1896 – As a speaker with the first Clarion Women’s Van Tour, Sarah spends 15 weeks touring the country in a horse-drawn van, holding open-air meetings and addressing thousands of people. She echoes Julia Dawson’s vision of Socialism, as written in The Clarion newspaper: “Socialism will have no need for the workhouse, since there will be no paupers. No need for child-earnings since adults will earn enough.”
  • 1897 – As national president of the Women’s Co-operative Guild, Sarah campaigns for better wages for women employees.
  • 1899 – The Women’s Trade Union League plays a crucial role in supporting small unions where organisation is weak. It does this by employing impressive, experienced organisers like Sarah.
  • 1900 – After two failed attempts, Sarah is the first woman to be appointed to the board of Bolton School and believes this will strengthen her campaign for votes for women.
  • 1901 – Sarah presents a petition to the House of Commons. It is signed by 29,359 women from Lancashire cotton mills and demands that women are given the right to vote.
  • 1903 – Sarah is a co-founder of the Lancashire and Cheshire Women’s Textile and Other Workers’ Representation Committee. The group is formed to evaluate parliamentary candidates and select those who will fight for voting rights of women workers.
  • 1904 – Sarah and fellow suffragist Esther Roper take a group of women in the chain-making and hosiery industries to present a suffrage petition to Leicestershire MP Sir Charles McLaren.
  • 1911 – Sarah sets up classes on public speaking for the Women’s Co-operative Guild.
  • 1915 – Sarah supports the International Congress of Women conference in The Hague, where ways to negotiate the end of the Great War are discussed and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is launched.


Women and County Borough Councils: A Claim for Eligibility (1903)

Women and the Franchise: A Claim for Its Extension (1904)


Always seeking new opportunities to promote equality for women.