Discover a remarkable new side to the Suffragette story this Autumn, as 2018 marks 100 years since women won the vote.  Suffragettes didn’t only campaign for the vote. They campaigned for more food for the poor, pulling together to help feed needy families with nutritious food. This exhibition continues that legacy with free events and a Pay What You Can Cafe, recreating the original 400 Bow Road site where Suffragettes worked. The Women’s Hall Season brings this amazing part of history to life, right in the heart of where it all began: Tower Hamlets.


Autumn/Winter is packed with ways to get inspired by this sisterhood. Choose from a rich array of free book talks and cooking demos to accompany the exhibition. From transgender rights with Christine Burn, to cooking fun with local Brick Lane chef Dina Begum, register for a free event today. If you can’t make an event, simply drop in to visit the permanent exhibition and the cafe.




Open till 22nd October 2018, The Women’s Hall at Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives is the first major exhibition about the East London Federation of the Suffragettes (ELFS).  The free exhibition and accompanying events explore the ELFS campaign for the vote, their split from the WSPU and their wartime projects. These included a co-operative toy factory, a health clinic, and a nursery in a former pub.


Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the exhibition hall at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives has been transformed into a unique space evoking the headquarters of the ELFS, a former Baptist mission hall on Old Ford Road in Bow which the suffragettes named ‘The Women’s Hall’.


Eat or Volunteer |  Pay What You Can Restaurant:


The exhibition includes a recreation of the ELFS Cost Price Restaurant, which serves refreshments for visitors on a ‘pay-what-you-can’ basis using redistributed food. There is also a donation point for the local food bank.




Free Events At Tower Hamlets Archive:



Book Talk

October 11th, 4:30-6:00pm

Hear from Sally Nicholls, author of ‘Things  a Bright Girl Can Do’ in this informal literary chat:


Women United Against Racism

October 11th, 6:30pm-8:30pm

An evening with Julie Begum, who will be sharing her story of a coalition of women from diverse backgrounds who formed a group, Women Unite Against Racism, as part of the wider anti-racist and anti-fascist campaign that managed to get the BNP out of Tower Hamlets during the 90’s.


Talk: Christine Burns on the historic struggle for transgender rights

October 18th, 6:15pm-7:15pm

At our penultimate event at the Women’s Hall we are delighted to welcome Christine Burns MBE who has campaigned for the civil rights of transgender people for a quarter of a century, having been involved with the trans community for more than 40 years. Christine was a leading figure in the pioneering trans rights organisation Press for Change, working on new employment legislation and the Gender Recognition Act. She will be selling and signing copies of her new book Trans Britain after the talk.

Sign up:


Women’s Hall Grand Finale

October 20th, 12:00 -5:00pm

The Women’s Hall exhibition draws to an end at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives. Dina Begum will join the festivities whose Brick Lane Cookbook celebrates the diverse cultures of our much loved Tower Hamlets.


To continue the suffragette legacy we have:

12.30-2.30pm The final session of Cost Price Restaurant our suffragette inspired zero waste pay what you can cafe.

2.00-3.00pm Speed Histories exploring through storytelling locally inspured suffrage history.

3.00-5.00pm Suffragette Studio Photography at The Women’s Hall, dress up as a suffragette and remember it forever!



Speaker of the Council, Cllr Sabina Akhtar said:Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation of Suffragettes used Tower Hamlets as a base, campaigning for the rights of working women in the East End and improved conditions for the poor.


Since then, numerous other women have played equally vital roles in shaping the future of our community. That’s why we are extremely delighted to bring this amazing part of our history to life with this major new exhibition which will hopefully resource and inspire present and future generations to continue to campaign for equality for all.



John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: We are proud of our rich history of campaigning for the rights of women and the less privileged.  Especially in the year that marks the centenary of women’s right to vote in the UK, I am pleased that this new exhibition and accompanying public programme illustrates how important it is  to continue the legacy of the East London Federation of Suffragettes.”