Decision over Manchester’s new Emmeline Pankhurst statue expected next week

Planning approval for Manchester’s new Emmeline Pankhurst statue is expected to be granted next week.

The bronze figure, earmarked for St Peter’s Square, is set to be unveiled by the end of the year to mark the centenary of women first getting the vote.

Designed by sculptor Hazel Reeves, it shows the iconic Mancunian suffragette standing on a chair as if addressing a crowd, arm outstretched.

She will face out towards the Free Trade Hall, a venue for radical suffragette campaigning in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Emmeline Pankhurst wearing a mask© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

In 1868, it hosted the first ever public meeting on the subject.

Pankhurst’s likeness will be surrounded by a small circular seating area outside the new office building at Number 2 St Peter’s Square.

Her great-granddaughter Helen told the M.E.N. last year how she hoped it would become a rallying point for modern feminists.

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The idea for a new statue – which would be only the second of a woman in the city centre, after Queen Victoria – came from Didsbury councillor Andrew Simcock, who set up the WoManchester project two years ago.

After a public vote on a shortlist of 20 legendary Mancunian women, Pankhurst was selected as the iconic female most deserving of a permanent memorial.

In 2015 Coun Simcock cycled from John O’Groats to Lands End to raise money for the statue, which had originally been timetabled to be complete in time for International Women’s Day 2019.

But late last year government confirmed a further £200,000 for the project as part of its ‘centenary cities’ programme, intended to mark the 100th anniversary of women first being allowed to vote in a general election.

Assuming permission is granted next Thursday, the statue will be unveiled in December this year, on the centenary of women over 30 voting in the 1918 poll.

a person posing for the camera: Credits: Handout© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Handout

Handout

Manchester led the way in the fight for women’s suffrage, including through the fierce campaigning of the Pankhurst sisters.

After years of campaigning on the issue, it was at Emmeline’s house on Nelson Street – near Manchester Royal Infirmary – that the Women’s Social and Political Union was set up in 1903 to pursue more militant efforts to obtain the vote, amid frustrations over a lack of progress.

“We resolved to limit our membership exclusively to women, to keep ourselves absolutely free from party affiliation, and to be satisfied with nothing but action on our question,” she wrote later.

“‘Deeds, not words’ was to be our permanent motto.”

In the years that followed, suffragettes – the avowedly militant movement of female suffrage campaigners – stepped up their battle, clashing with police and repeatedly facing imprisonment for their actions.

Women aged over 30 who met certain requirements, such as property ownership, were finally granted the vote in 1918 but it would be another decade before they secured the same voting rights as men.

 

Manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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