Sarah Reddish (1850-1928) was born in Bolton and, like most young women in the town, went into the mills at early age. Her family were co-operators and she became President of the Bolton branch of the Women’s Cooperative Guild in 1886, and also served on the NEC of the Guild. Between 1883 and 1885 she worked as an organiser for the North West Region of the Guild. In 1897 Sarah served as National President of the Guild. In 1899 she was elected to the Bolton School Board. Sarah joined the Independent Labour Party, and was also active in the Clarion movement, going on a Clarion Van tour as a speaker.
In 1899 she was appointed as a part-time organiser for the Women’s Trade Union League, travelling all over the north addressing meetings. In 1900 she was employed by the North of England Society for Women’s Suffrage to gather signatures among women textile workers for a petition on suffrage, which was presented to the House of Commons in March 1901. Sarah was one of the women on the deputation.
In 1901 Sarah worked on another petition, this time amongst women workers in Yorkshire. In 1903 she was a founding member of the Lancashire and Cheshire Women Textile and Other Workers’ Representation Committee, along with Selina Cooper, Sarah Dickenson, Eva Gore-Booth and Esther Roper. That year she wrote a pamphlet Women and County Borough Councils: a Claim for Eligibility.
In the autumn there was a division of opinion on the NESWS over the work among working class women and Sarah resigned from the Society, along with Sarah Dickenson, Eva Gore Booth, Nellie Keenan, Christabel Pankhurst, Katherine Rowton, and Esther Roper. These women now pursued the fight for suffrage through the Textile Workers’ Committee and the Manchester and Salford Women’s Trades and Labour Council.