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I'm Joe Crowley and this is History Hunt,
where children like YOU investigate exciting stuff from the past.
-Incredible, isn't it?
The clues are everywhere if you know where to look.
And finding them is fun.
On this episode of History Hunt, our team of four curious kids
go right to the heart of government to find out about one brave person
who fought for women to be given the right to vote.
Today, I'm in Hastings - a historic town on the south coast of England.
And this is The Crescent, one of the most beautiful streets in the town,
and once home to a woman called Muriel Matters.
But just who was she?
This is Alice, Alex, Eve and Henry. They're today's History Hunters.
Together, we're going to search for clues that will help us work out
who Muriel Matters was, and what she did.
Muriel, who was also known by her married name of Porter,
was born in Australia and lived in this street for 20 years.
So, who's going to read out what it says there?
"First woman to 'speak' in the House of Commons."
Why has it got those inverted commas round? Any ideas?
Maybe it's not quite how it seems.
So, how can we find out more? Where could we go to look?
To the archive?
I reckon we should start at Hastings archives and see what you can find.
-Right, let's go.
Like all archives, Hastings has a collection of historical documents.
I asked Eve and Henry, though, to look for clues online.
Alex and Alice, meanwhile,
look at actually physical documents held by the archives.
In the local newspaper,
they find a report on a suffragette meeting held in Hastings in 1908.
At that time, women weren't allowed to vote in elections,
and the suffragettes believed this was wrong.
Muriel was in charge of the meeting.
She was being criticised by men who said women didn't deserve the vote
because they didn't do jobs that were as important
as those done by the men.
BOTH: "Grace Dar...ling
"and Florence Nightingale had done as good work as any soldier."
In those days, ladies weren't allowed to do much stuff,
but she stuck up for herself.
In an online newspaper search, Eve and Henry discover Muriel
soon moved on from holding meetings, to a more extreme way of protesting.
A report in The Times shows she chained herself to a grill
in the House of Commons, and had to be removed by force.
The Times writer wasn't impressed.
"The interruption by women is regarded by members
"as a childish exhibition."
The Times are not really for women's rights.
I don't think they're thinking...
I think, probably, most people who write at The Times are men.
A follow-up article reveals Muriel had actually been sent to prison.
Alice and Alex, meanwhile, discover Muriel had tried
to get into the House of Commons in the normal way.
In 1924, she stood for election as a Member of Parliament.
Remember back at the plaque, it said she was the first woman
to speak in the House of Commons?
-If she's spoken there, maybe she won it.
There isn't a paper copy of the election result,
so Alice and Alex have to look on something called microfiche -
a type of film for storing documents -
for the copy of the Hastings Observer
which contains the details they're looking for.
"Conservatives, 9,000 majority."
Percy's got more votes than she has.
Time to compare notes.
Guys, what do you know she got up to?
She must have been a hard girl, because when she was at a meeting,
she got shouted abuse, saying, "Oh, what?
"So now women can be policemen, soldiers and sailors?"
She was sticking up for what she believes in.
-What's she after at these meetings?
-Votes for women.
What else is going on?
She chained herself to the grills in the House of Commons.
-Right, in Parliament?
-So, Eve, how did they get them out?
They had to cut them out,
and the officers who took them away also brought the grill with them.
The team also tell me about the fact that she stood for Parliament
but failed to win the election.
'So how was it, then, that she was the first woman to "speak"
'in the House of Commons?'
How do we find out more about this?
-She wants political rights for women...
-Go to Parliament.
..she tries to be an MP... What was that?
-Go to Parliament?
-Right. That would make sense, wouldn't it?
-That's at the heart of all this.
-Parliament's the place to look next?
-We're going to London!
-If we want to find out...
-# We're going to London... #
So, it's off to London to find out more about Muriel Matters.
We visit Parliament, which is where Members of Parliament, called MPs,
from all over the country meet to hold debates and make new laws.
Here we are!
The very grand Westminster Hall, here in the Palaces of Westminster.
So, I want you guys to speak to your local MP.
I want you to interview her and find out a little bit more
about Muriel Matters and why she was so important.
OK, you guys, I've arranged for you to meet an archivist
in the Parliamentary Archives to help find some really good,
interesting bits of history. Right?
As Eve and Henry settle down to work in the Parliamentary Archives,
Alice and Alex are able to grille Amber Rudd, their local MP.
Here, I've got a picture of Muriel Matters,
talking to this big crowd of people in Hastings.
She must've been very brave to make her point
in front of so many people.
Do you agree with her tying herself to the grill?
I do agree with it, even though, as a Member of Parliament,
I generally disagree with people doing illegal things.
But I do look back and think that it must have been so frustrating
for women who wanted to vote to be told they couldn't,
that I think that sort of dramatic action was exactly what was needed.
And it's only because the suffragettes did so much
and they risked so much that women then got the vote,
and women like me are now able to be Members of Parliament.
If it was still in the Victorian Age,
would you be a part of the suffragettes?
Yes, I would be. I would definitely be a suffragette.
In the Archives, Eve and Henry are shown something very rare -
a banner that Muriel took on her protest to the House of Commons.
This is a banner that was unfurled from the Ladies' Gallery
by Muriel Matters and Helen Fox, the suffragettes there that day.
-Yeah, you can really see it's really old, can't you?
-Can you read it all?
-"Women's Freedom League..."
"..calls upon the Government to remove the sex disability
"which deprives qualified women of their just right of voting
"in the parliamentary elections."
That's really nice to have something that Muriel has done.
All of the stuff we've seen, it's just records of what has happened.
There hasn't actually been something from when it did happen.
The archivist also shows the team the cover of a magazine
published at the time.
"When the grill is in place,
"the ladies behind it are not technically within the House,
"but so soon as the grill is removed, they are in the House.
"Thus, the two suffragettes in question were actually placed
"in the House by the attendants of the House."
Alice and Alex go to one of the most important places in the country -
the Victoria Tower in the Palace of Westminster -
which is where original Acts of Parliament,
going back hundreds of years, are kept.
They meet up with a lawyer and campaigner for women's rights
to find out about how women finally got the vote.
The problem that they had was that the people who voted were all men,
so Parliament had no real reason to cater to women
and grant them the vote.
So, without that breaking of the law,
Parliament could've continued to ignore them.
When and why did women get the vote?
Women were first given the vote in 1918,
and that was just at the end of the First World War.
The men had all been off fighting,
and the women had to do a lot of the jobs that men had done.
And so, at that point, people started to say,
"Actually, yes, women should be given the vote."
Now, we've got all this information,
we understand about votes for women, we understand about the suffragettes
and the stunts that took place, so what do you think of Muriel?
I think she was a really brave woman to do everything she did.
Some people must've thought she was weird, but she wasn't.
She stood for what she wanted.
She used to live in Australia - she could've gone back there.
So, out of more than 1,000 towns, she chose Hastings.
Do you like, now, your local history?
-Does it make you want to learn more...?
We still have the mystery of what the blue plaque means when it says
she was the "First woman to 'speak' in the House of Commons."
One of the documents from the archives explains this.
You guys discovered this, didn't you?
Technically, because this grill was removed,
she was actually part of Parliament,
and therefore, on a technicality, she "spoke" in Parliament. Yeah.
So, finally, then,
do we think she was right to break the law in the way she did?
And actually, if all this hadn't happened, your future, Alice,
and your future, Eve, would be different from these two.
And today, hopefully, it's much more similar. Yeah?
Guys, I'm pleased you've learned so much. Done an excellent job.
I would say that is first class history hunting.
One of the most fascinating areas of history
is looking at the individuals who were prepared to fight and improve
rights for certain groups of people.
Now, some believe you should obey the law no matter what.
Others were prepared to go to prison for their beliefs.
Muriel Matters was one such person.
Her name stuck started out as just some writing on a blue plaque
for our History Hunters, but from coming all the way here
to the Houses of Parliament, they now know she was willing
to sacrifice a lot.
Even her own freedom to win votes for women. And that's her story.
Muriel Matters was born in Australia and came to Britain in 1905, age 25.
She came to perform on the London stage,
but soon joined one of the biggest political protest movements
in history - the suffragettes.
The suffragettes wanted the vote for women,
and they came from the suffrag-ist movement.
The suffragists had been going since 1870 or so,
and they'd been asking very nicely if they could have the vote,
but the suffragettes said,
"We've asked nicely for ages and haven't got anywhere,
"so it's about time we started taking some direct action."
In 1908, Muriel and her fellow suffragette chained themselves
to a grill in the Ladies' Viewing Gallery at the House of Commons,
and lowered a banner into the debating chamber.
The only way to take her away was to remove the grill.
Some people believe that because the grill had gone, technically,
she was in the House of Commons,
and therefore, her shouts of "Votes for Women!"
meant that she was the first woman to speak in the House.
Muriel was ejected from Parliament
and then joined another demonstration outside.
She was arrested and sent to prison.
Eventually, the campaign was successful.
The Representation of the People Act became law in February 1918.
There was a bit of a catch.
The age for men was 21, but for women,
you had to be 30 to vote and you had to be a property owner.
It was 1928 that women finally got the vote on the same terms as men.
Muriel stood for Parliament in Hastings in 1924, but lost.
She later settled in the town and lived there until her death in 1969.
Our History Hunters found out loads of useful stuff on Muriel Matters
by looking at old newspapers.
Here's a guide on how to do this kind of research.
There are many different ways to track down newspapers
which could be of use to us.
Perhaps the easiest is by searching online.
Conveniently, some sites allow you to search a number of newspapers
at the same time.
It's no different from doing a normal internet search,
although you may have to register with the site first.
Just type in the subject you're looking for,
and the site's search engine will call up stories that are relevant.
Sometimes, you can go direct to a newspaper itself.
When you find stories in the papers, you may notice different newspapers
treat them in different ways.
Some might criticise people,
while others praise them for doing exactly the same thing.
And that's the same nowadays -
newspaper journalists have always had their own slant on stories,
so you have to think about what their angle is
and why they might be saying what they're saying.
There are other ways of looking at newspapers too.
Archives are places or online websites
where information is collected and stored.
Local archives often keep copies of their own local papers.
These can go back many years.
Sometimes, they're available on something called microfiche.
The archive will have special microfiche readers,
and you can look at pages on a screen.
Other times, you'll be looking through original newspapers.
Using them can be much harder than looking online,
because sometimes you can't search by name.
You'll just have to look at the copies of actual newspapers
themselves around the dates which you believe are relevant.
That can take a lot of time, BUT it can be really exciting
when you find the information you need.
(Thomas Andrews, yes!)
National and local newspapers can be a great way of finding out
what people thought about something at the time it happened.
But you have to be careful.
They can be biased, and they can even be wrong, because sometimes,
they were printed before the full facts were known.
But as long as you realise that, looking at old newspapers
can be very rewarding, and can also be great fun.
I'm Joe Crowley and this is History Hunt,
where children like you investigate exciting stuff from the past.
-Incredible, isn't it?
The clues are everywhere, if you know where to look.
And finding them is fun.
'Today's History Hunters are on the trail of a local link
'to one of the world's biggest ever sea disasters.
'The sinking of Titanic was a tragedy, but was this man to blame?'
This is Comber, a small town near Belfast in Northern Ireland.
And this is Thomas Andrews Memorial Hall.
But just who was Thomas Andrews?
'This is Craig, Natalia, Courtney and Joshua.
'They're here to help me on today's History Hunt.
'We're going to search for clues that will help us
'to reveal the full story of Thomas Andrews and his life.'
I've done a bit of research and found this blue plaque.
D'you want to read that out for me, Natalia?
"Thomas Andrews, 1873-1912, designer of the Titanic, lived here."
We all know what the Titanic was, right?
-Exactly. And what did people say about that ship?
-They said it was unsinkable.
-What actually happened to the ship?
-It sank, right.
So, d'you think Thomas Andrews could have been to blame
if he was the designer?
He was probably the one who said it was unsinkable.
Right. Where could we find out more about him?
Television, yeah. News? Yeah, newspapers, yeah?
So, what I think we should do is head
to the archives in Belfast, right. And why Belfast?
-Cos Titanic was built in Belfast.
-Right, come on then. Let's go.
'Archives are places where historical records are kept.
'Belfast archives are full of Titanic material.
'It's one of the most famous stories in history,
'and it started in this city, where the ship was built.
'The children already know a lot about Titanic.
'Her launch in 1912 and the tragedy of the sinking
'when she hit an iceberg are world famous.
'The big story has been told many times.
'But their job is to dig deeper and find out about the connections
'with a man who came from their own town.
'The first job is to find a picture of Thomas Andrews.'
Thomas Andrews, Thomas Andrews. Oh, yes.
BOTH: "Mr Thomas Andrews.
"Managing Director of Messrs Harland & Wolff,
"a victim of the Titanic disaster, April 1912."
The girls then find casualty figures...
No, look. "Total passengers and crew.
"Men that were carried, 1,662."
..And an obituary of Thomas Andrews,
which revealed he worked hard, and had a kind heart.
BOTH: "This man could find time every night
"to telephone his mother."
He's a hard-working man, and he still remembers about other people, and...
He finds time to ring his mum.
I think he sounds like a nice man, yeah.
The girls also discovered pictures of Titanic,
which showed what a huge ship it was.
While they make copies for me to look at, I give the boys their task.
Back then, people could go to the cinema and watch newsreels.
I think there's an archive online.
Search through them, have a look
and see if you can find any moving images, OK?
There's plenty of general footage,
but nothing specific on Thomas Andrews.
BOTH: "The Titanic leaving Belfast Lough for Southampton."
-Oh, Captain J Smith.
-On the bridge. He looks worried.
-"Sole survivors of the Titanic's crew."
-Not that many.
BOTH: "Reporters interviewing survivors."
I don't see why the survivors want to talk about it.
Imagine how quickly it would have spread.
It's been an interesting and exciting morning.
I meet up with the teams again
at part of Belfast's historical heritage,
the Dry Dock, where Titanic had her propellers fitted.
Boys, from looking at that footage, what did you find out?
It was huge, and all the people were that size compared to the Titanic.
-What did you find out from the documents?
-were on board Titanic.
-How many survived?
I've also done a bit of research. This is a survey of the ship itself,
and down here it says,
"Lifesaving appliances." What d'you think "lifesaving appliances" are?
Now, if you add up these numbers, you get to a grand total of 1,178.
-So, what's clear from that?
-There wasn't enough lifeboats.
So now I think we need to find out a bit more about Thomas Andrews
and the design of the ship. Was the design dangerous?
-Who could we speak to?
-People who make them?
Yeah. What were you going to say?
I want you to meet the relative
of someone who actually worked on the Titanic,
who helped build the ship right here in Belfast.
And guys, I want you to meet a ship designer,
and I want you to get his impression of the design
and whether it was dangerous or not, OK?
-Everyone clear on what they're doing?
The girls meet with Susie Millar.
Her great-grandfather helped build Titanic.
His name was Tommy Millar and in 1912, he was 33.
He worked here and helped put the engines into Titanic,
and then he decided that he was going to sail on the ship,
so he was actually one of the crew of Titanic.
-So, did he survive on the Titanic?
-I'm afraid to tell you that he died.
Being one of the crew, he would have had to stay at his post
until the bitter end.
That's a picture of him there. We only have two pictures of him,
but that's one and there's the other one.
He was working 11-hour days.
He started at half past six in the morning.
Did your great-grandfather have any kids on board?
He left his two boys behind.
My grandfather was only five in 1912,
and he actually said goodbye to them here, where we're standing now.
And he thought he would see them again in a few months' time,
they were going to follow him out to America.
And when he was saying goodbye to them, he said,
"I want you both to have two pennies," just like these,
"and I don't want you to spend those until we're all together again."
And he never did. He kept them all of his life.
The girls find out that Susie's grandfather knew Thomas Andrews,
who actually recommended him for a job
with the company that owned the ship.
So he actually got him the job on Titanic.
Did people like Thomas Andrews and was he hard-working?
I think Thomas Andrews worked even harder than my great-grandfather,
because if he started at half past six,
Thomas Andrews was reported to be in from four o'clock in the morning.
He knew he had to get this project right, it was his first big project.
But everybody says that he was a very fair man.
There's a picture of him with his daughter
and she was just 16 months old when her father sailed away.
-And that's his wife, Nelly.
-How did the Titanic affect your family?
It's still something we look back on and we're a bit sad about
and, you know, I go to the Titanic Memorial sometimes
and look up at his name and think about how
the course of all our lives changed because of what happened to Titanic.
Meanwhile, the boys are at the old offices of Harland & Wolff,
the firm that built Titanic.
They're with David Livingstone.
He's a naval architect who's an expert on Titanic.
He explains the ship was designed to withstand a lot of damage.
They had a double bottom.
They had an inner skin here so that, if it got holes on the bottom,
it wouldn't flood.
The ship was also split into compartments,
using watertight walls called bulkheads.
Titanic was designed to cope
with two of these bulkheads being damaged.
When the ship scraped along the side of the iceberg,
it had one, two, three, four and maybe five compartments damaged.
And as soon as she got that type of damage, she was going to sink.
No naval architect ever said the ship was unsinkable. Who said it?
-Was it the newspapers?
They were the ones who said it was unsinkable.
David also explains why there weren't enough lifeboats
for everyone onboard.
At that time, they were developing a theory that it would be better
if they made the ship to be its own lifeboat,
that the ship would survive a certain degree of damage
and the number of lifeboats were more than what was required
by the regulations,
so they believed that they didn't need lifeboats for everyone.
However, they were wrong.
Does Thomas Andrews deserve to have his own memorial hall in Comber?
He didn't do anything wrong, so yes, as an engineer and as a man,
he deserves his recognition.
When the ship was damaged, he refused to leave the ship.
So, he went down with the ship.
Our teams now have a real sense of the scale of the disaster,
the way families were affected and, above all, of Thomas Andrews
and how well-respected he was as a ship designer.
Was it an unsafe design?
No, it wasn't, because he put more bulkheads.
It could still float if water got in.
-D'you think it's fair to blame Thomas Andrews?
-No, not now.
I thought it would be Thomas Andrews' fault, but no, not now.
And finally, everyone says, "The Titanic, the unsinkable ship."
Did Thomas Andrews call it unsinkable?
-No, it was the newspapers and the media.
-Just shows, doesn't it?
If you scratch under the surface, you can show that it was a myth.
First-class history hunting. Well done.
You'd think Thomas Andrews would be the villain of the piece,
the man who designed the unsinkable ship that sank and yet,
there's far more to this story, as our History Hunters have found out.
He was a brilliant shipbuilder, in charge of the biggest project
of the day, quite possibly designed right here
in Harland & Wolff's old drawing offices.
The ship didn't sink because of his mistakes,
yet he took responsibility by going down with the vessel.
So it's no surprise then, his name is still honoured in Comber,
and this is his story.
Thomas Andrews came from a well-known and distinguished family
in Comber, close to Belfast in Northern Ireland.
He was fascinated by boats
and apprentice to the shipbuilders Harland & Wolff at the age of 16.
He worked his way up through the company,
and by his early 20s, he was Harland & Wolff's managing director.
In 1907, he was given the biggest job of his career,
to design the largest ships ever built,
Titanic, Olympic and Britannic.
It was a massive task.
These were huge ships,
and it was something the whole of Belfast was proud of.
When my grandfather saw the ship, he described it as "a wall of steel."
Andrews designed as safe a ship as he could,
based on a study of previous sinkings.
Titanic and her sister ships were divided into compartments.
They could cope with two compartments being flooded.
Any more, and they'd sink.
Thomas Andrews never actually claimed they were unsinkable.
There weren't enough lifeboats for every passenger,
but more than the legal requirements.
Many people saw lifeboats as unsafe.
The priority was to make the ship itself safe.
Naval architects had recognised that putting people into lifeboats
was very dangerous, and still is today.
However, on her maiden voyage in 1912, Titanic hit an iceberg
and sustained damage she couldn't cope with.
Up to five compartments were flooded. The ship sank.
Of more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board,
over 1,500 lost their lives.
Thomas Andrews went down with the mighty ship he designed.
Thomas Andrews is fondly remembered in Comber,
and the Memorial Hall is a well-loved tribute to him.
The children who researched Titanic
and Thomas Andrews made real breakthroughs
when they interviewed people who really knew about this story.
Here's a guide on how to get the best out of people
when asking them questions.
Family members or friends of figures from history often have photographs
or objects that used to belong to the people you're investigating.
Ask them to bring anything like this along to a meeting,
or if you're going to see THEM,
tell them to have a good look for anything that could be useful.
It's best to ask them in advance,
as then they'll have time to get things ready for you.
And if you can, take copies in some way,
then you can look at them in detail afterwards.
It's not just what you ask, it's HOW you ask it that's important too.
Good interviewers use open questions.
Things like, "Tell me what your grandfather was like,"
or, "How did he invent that?"
Poor interviewers use closed questions.
Things that just call for a yes or no answer.
Ask these type of questions and you won't find out much.
How did the Titanic sink and how did it affect your family?
It's also vitally important that you listen carefully.
They might tell you something you didn't expect,
so you can ask a follow-up question that will get you more information.
So, tell me a bit more about the photograph.
This photograph showed, really, what the structure of the DNA was.
And always remember that people are often biased
when they're talking about friends or relatives.
They might exaggerate their importance or hide their faults.
But what happened was, somebody showed it to Crick and Watson,
and that's what they used to do their discovering.
It's up to you as historians to work out what you need to check up on,
by using methods such as talking to other people
or looking at documents in archives.
If we bear all that in mind,
speaking to people who knew historical figures
can be a great way of finding out things
that are otherwise really hard to discover.
And they can provide photos and details that give us
an insight into what a person was really like.
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