The Bazaar of 1912

For three days in February 1912, the Manchester and District Federation of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies held a Bazaar in the Midland Hall, Manchester.

The Bazaar consisted of speeches, each suffrage society hosting their own stall, refreshments and entertainment provided by musicians and theatre performers. These different elements created an event that would entice audiences to attend and potentially widen the reach of the suffragist’s message. Through being approachable and inviting to potential supporters the suffragist’s would again contrast with the suffragette’s more aggressive methods (disrupting political speeches and vandalism).

The evidence for the Bazaar and what it consisted of is taken from the Bazaar handbook, Archives+, Manchester Central Library. From it can be seen the different suffrage societies from the Manchester surrounding areas that took part, how the organisation was able to fundraise (e.g. through advertising revenue) and the entertainment of offer.


The Game Changer groups recreated the Suffrage Bazaar for a 2019 audience. Each group had their own stalls that showcased all of the work they had made over the course of the project and photographs from the recreation of the suffragist demonstration.

All the visual artists who had worked on the project provided craft making activities for all the groups that took part and members of the public. All the crafts were based on suffragists campaign materials the Game Changer groups had focused on such as badges, placards, key rings, brooches and posters. As well as activities based on working together with others such as collage making and giant knitting.

Just like the original women’s suffrage Bazaar, the Game Changers 2019 Bazaar featured musical entertainment. A professional musician who had worked with the Game Changers performed a call and response piece that the groups had learnt in their sessions, which also encouraged the audience to participate. Members of the groups then showcased their own work including guitar playing, poetry readings, original spoken word pieces and dances.

The Bazaar event hosted a debate led by the Debate Mate mentors in the same way the original Bazaar would have done. Instead of debating the need for women’s suffrage however, the 2019 Bazaar debated issues around education and whether life skills should be included in the national curriculum.

In the same way campaign events led by suffragists would feature speeches by prominent suffragists the Game Changers were privileged to feature a speech by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, June Hitchen.

The event concluded with a panel discussion of women social entrepreneurs led by Flourish Together Co-founder and Co-Director, Nickala Torkington. The panel discussed the need for social entrepreneurship to ensure sustainability in bringing about social change and the unique skills women (and those that identify as women) can contribute towards this. This was followed by a question and answer session with the audience. The panel reflected the discussions that would often take place at suffragist events, particularly at society meetings.