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Brighton Journal | 19th February 2020

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Driving Through The Past: Remembering Brighton’s Icons

Driving Through The Past: Remembering Brighton’s Icons
Kim Ayling
  • On 18th September 2018

There is slim chance that you look at every bus that passes you in Brighton, or that you’d notice it’s passing at all. However, whether you’re a regular admirer of Brighton’s buses or not, there’s no doubt that you will have noticed that almost every one of the buses have their own name. In a practice begun in 1999, every new bus that enters the fleet has been named after a deceased person, who is thought to have a strong connection with the area.

Minnie in front of her guesthouse. Image via Royal Pavilion Museum


However, whilst a few of the namesakes are incredibly famous (think Dusty Springfield and Fred Perry) we’re pretty confident that you’ve seen a couple driving past that aren’t quite so familiar. With hundreds of names listed, there’s bound to be a few important people that slip under your radar – with that in mind, each week we at Brighton Journal will put a spotlight on one of these figures, in our new series, ‘Driving Through the Past’.


For the first instalment, we’re delving into the history of the Minnie Turner, whose name travels around Brighton on the number 821 bus. Born in 1867, Minnie is famed for her involvement in the Women’s Suffrage Movement.


After leaving the Liberal Party due to it’s lack of support for women’s rights, proven by the government’s failure to introduce legislation that would enable women to vote, Minnie joined The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1908, where her activism turned to militarism.


In addition to her political activities, Minnie Turner also ran a guesthouse named Sea View, which was located on Brighton’s Victoria Road. At Sea View, Minnie was keen to house suffragettes, and advertised her establishment in several of the movements publications: “Suffragettes spend your holidays in Brighton, central. Terms moderate.”

Throughout her time as a member of the WSPU, Minnie played host to some of the most famous names of the suffrage movement, with Emily Wilding Davison – famed for throwing herself under the Kings’ horses – and members of the Pankhurst family being amongst the guesthouse’s list of visitors.


Minnie did not just host those more active members of the organisation however; she was known for being in the thick of the action herself. She was arrested for her actions on several occasions, and spent twenty one days in prison after being found guilty of breaking a window at the Home Office.

Minnie Turner, Brighton suffragette. Image via Royal Pavilion Museum


Her guesthouse also came under attack as a result of Minnie’s dedication to the cause: in 1912, a group of people living nearby attacked her home, which also held a lending library full of books on the movement, in opposition to the actions taken by the WSPU. The next year a group of local youths threw stones at Sea View’s windows, shattering them.


Minnie’s activism also spread beyond campaigning for women’s rights as she was dedicated to improving the dire conditions in Brighton Workhouse, on Elm Grove, which she did from her elected position on the Brighton Board of Guardians.


Whilst it has been reported that Minnie was very modest about her achievements, she was incredibly proud to have hosted such prominent leaders from the suffrage movement. After her death in 1948, Minnie was remembered fondly as a warm, fun-loving woman with a strong sense of responsibility to the community.

Featured image by DennisDartSLF via Flickr.

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