Sarah was born in Bolton in 1850, left school at the age of 11 to work at home with her mother, a silk weaver. Her father was librarian and secretary to the Bolton Co-op Education Committee
She later went on to work as a winder and reeler in the textile mills and eventually she became a forewoman in a hosiery mill.
she worked for the causes close to her heart the Co-operative movement, women's votes, Socialism and it was her faith in socialism that led her to join the Independent Labour Party and the Clarion Movement, such a great public speaker and advocate for socialism was she that she travelled with the first women's Clarion van tour of 1896.
The idea of Clarion Women's Vans was put forward in the newspaper early in 1896. Female volunteers toured the country in them, holding open-air meetings, selling Socialist literature and handed out leaflets.
Clarion Van no 1 was named after Caroline Martyn (1867-1896), a well-known Socialist lecturer and the woman said to have founded Glasgow's first Socialist Sunday School. Caroline Martyn spoke with Kier Hardie at a huge ILP and Clarion gathering at Hardcastle Crags in May 1896
In 1899 Sarah Reddish was appointed part time organiser of the Women's Trade Union LeagueShe was the first women on Bolton Education Board 1899 and the first women to stand for Bolton City Council in 1907. While Sarah never married she found time to found and organise a well known and respected "school for mothers" in Bolton.
Sarah Reddish, aged 78, died on February 19, 1928, and is buried at Heaton Cemetery Bolton Wood Street Clarion paid homage and left red flags at Sarah Reddish grave on Sunday 4th May 2008
Bolton Clarion Cycling Club establsihed 1896
The Bolton Socialist Club
by Denis Pye
In June, 1898, Sarah Reddish, a Bolton Socialist active in the Co-operative Women's Guild, who had become well-known as a socialist speaker after touring with the famous Clarion Women's Van, wrote to the Clarion as Secretary of West Ward Indpendent labour Party (ILP).
She declared that they were prepared to fuse locally with the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) Branch, which was also willing.
'Division means weakness', she wrote. 'We want strength for useful work and therefore we hope that other local comrades will join us.'
In September, 1898, the fusion took place at a meeting in the Palatine Buildings on
Bolton Socialist Party, open to members of either national grouping, or of none, adopted a set of Principles and Objects which remained on the membership application form until it was replaced by those of the British Socialist
Party in 1912.(later the Communist Party)
In November, 1899, Bolton Socialist Party moved the Club to number 13,
Street. Its entrance is still there in the narrow alley which runs behind Waterstone's Deansgate shop. Here they were next to the Home Rule or Sinn Fein Club with
whose members, mostly from the town's large Irish community, they had strong
ties. But there were more ambitious plans already under way for building a big
Socialist Hall with Clubrooms and its own offices.
This idea was not unique to
The Prospectus is signed by W. Alex Seaton of
Meanwhile, the social, cultural and propaganda activities continued: indoor and outdoor public meetings every week, dances, tea-parties for poor children (provided as part of the Clarion 'Cinderella Fund' work encouraged by the Clarion paper); sports, field-days and picnics at Harwood, Rivington and Anglezarke.
Billiard and 'ping-pong' (table-tennis) tables were purchased, as well as a punch-ball and 'Sandow' muscle-developers. Cycle runs every Saturday and Sunday (and sometimes on Wednesday evenings) left from
A Socialist Sunday School was established for the children, teaching a non-sexist version of the Socialist Ten Commandments, which was printed on a post-card sold at the Club. For two years (1902-1904) they had their own monthly paper.
Among the visiting speakers for whom public meetings were organised was James
Connlly, who addressed audiences in the
1901. In the afternoon, his theme was 'Labour and Revolution', and in the evening
The Economic Causes of Irish Misery'.
At the time of the coronation of Edward VII in 1902, with the streets of the town illuminated and decorated, members of
At the end of 1904, the members of Bolton Socialist Party were still intent, after more than four years of effort, on raising enough money to build the Hall of their dreams. Over the Christmas and New Year holidays they held yet another Sale of Work. Tom France, Sarah Reddish and Alex Seaton were the openers. The Bolton Journal reported that the takings were satisfactory, 'hastening on the day of the opening ceremony of the new hall'. In February, the Committee was discussing sites. Deansgate, where old properties were being demolished in the place where Whitaker's is today, was considered. But they soon realised that they were being hopelessly over-optimistic. Nowhere near the necessary amount of money had been raised, and by May the Party was asking Bolton Socialist Hall Limited to purchase 16,
The purchase price was £800, of which £600 was borrowed on mortgage. The Party agreed to pay a rent of £42 per annum, plus rates and taxes, and to keep the property in repair. A steward and stewardess, Comrade Blyto and his wife, were appointed at 25 shillings (£1-25) a week, with free accommodation. It was decided that the bathroom could be used by members (most of them had no bathroom at home) for a charge of two pence - hire of towel threepence.
It appears that, with little ceremony, all the political, social and cultural activities got under way again in the
Campbell-Bannerman. It was made up mainly of textile workers, and included
Sarah Reddish who took the Bolton Party's resolution demanding votes for women.
At this time unemployment was a major concern and the
campaigned tirelessly in weekly
and local government to alleviate its effects, stressing always that Socialism was the
only real answer. Meanwhile, at the Club, it was laid down that any unemployed
person 'on the road' who called in should be given a shilling (5p) provided that he
could satisfy the barman's questions. (These are not specified in the records!)
The Clarion Cycling Club, Clarion Scouts and Clarion Vocal Union soon started to
Profits to subsidise other activities were boosted by the sale of "Red Rag Toffee' and "Socialist Cigars' to augment the door takings. Celebrity speakers were booked to attract these large audiences, pulled in by advertisements in the Corporation Trams huge posters on hoardings and, in the football season, notices carried on sandwich-boards among the thousands outside
The Bolton Party was still committed to Socialist unity in the face of increasing sectarianism. By 1910, in addition to the Labour Party (mainly trade unions and ILP) there were: the Social Democratic Party (the former SDF), James Connolly's Socialist Labour Party, and the Socialist Party of Great Britain. The SDP called a Socialist Unity Conference in
As the First World War approached,