April 8, 1913
An amazing suffragette plot to blow up the stands at the Crystal Palace Football Ground just before the approaching Cup final on April 19 has been disclosed to the London “Daily Express.”
The key to the plot was found in a document which was drafted and typewritten at the offices of the Women’s Social and Political Union.
The orders for carrying out the scheme were to be given it appears, to “Militant Corps No. 23,” indicating an “outrage organisation” on strictly military lines.
There is little doubt that before the details of the plot were finally settled the district round the Crystal Palace was diligently “spied out,” and instructions were given to a trusted malignant to find out the rents of two detached houses in Thicket-road, Anerely, facing the back of the Palace grounds, and within three minutes of the football ground.
These houses are now both showing “To let” boards, and it was proposed by the suffragette plotters that one of these empty houses should be rented in the name of “Benson,” and that then a family, presumably mostly daughters should move in.
Apart from “Benson,” all the suffragette conspirators are referred to in the secret paper of instructions by numbers, so that their identities might be hidden even among themselves.
Once installed in the house, the “family” were to be given elaborate instructions regarding the preparations for the outrage.
All the movements of policemen on their “beats” round Crystal Palace Park-road and Thicket-road were to be watched carefully, and that preliminary scouting work has actually been done is apparent by remark in the document, “Fence easy.”
This refers to a stout oak fence between eight and nine feet high, with spikes at intervals along the top, which runs round the bottom of the Palace grounds on the opposite side of Thicket-road from the two houses.
Seven persons in all, including “Benson,” were commissioned to take part in this outrage, and the elaborate arrangements for carrying the plot include a ladder to be placed against the fence, and “fireworks,” which is a pleasing suffragette way of referring to explosives.
That this is so is proved by the orders: “Nos. 5, 7, and 33 over ladder, blow up stands.”
The most wicked part of the plot is that one of the suffragettes taking active part was ordered to ring a fire bell to give a false alarm to the Crystal Palace Brigade at the top of Westow-hill.
This was intended to draw the nearest fire-engine away from the blown-up stands, which would probably catch fire, and thus might be entirely destroyed before the arrival of the fire brigade from another station.
Elaborate arrangements were made for the escape of the suffragettes. Six were to escape by motor-car, while the other conspirator, after giving the false alarm of fire, was to cycle to Twickenham.
The houses in Thicket-road are together and detached from the houses on either side. No. 48, which has the name “Lake View,” is a picturesque three-storey house behind a garden of evergreens and small trees.
On the other side of the Crystal Palace fence is the curiously curved lake, and behind that is the football ground, easily approached in the darkness.
Neither of the houses has stables or a motor garage, and it was evidently intended to have the motor-car waiting on the other side of the Palace.
A most significant footnote, scrawled in pencil sideways at the bottom of this document, runs: –
Polly reports to use – everything positively too guarded.”
A name follows, and then there this terse official comment: “File this Cr. cabinet.”
(Source: Liverpool Echo: April 8, 1913)