This statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in central Manchester is a very new act of commemoration to the political activist and leader of the Suffragette movement. Though the Pankhurst Centre, based at Emmeline’s family home, has been open since the late 80s, this statue is the first of its kind in Manchester. In fact it’s the first statue in Manchester to honour any woman since a statue of Queen Victoria was erected over 100 years ago.
The statue was unveiled on 14th December 2018 to mark the centenary of the 1918 general election, the first that allowed women to vote. Only women over the age of 30 were allowed to vote in this election. Younger women had to wait another 10 years before the Act of 1928 gave the vote to all women over the age of 21.
I remember learning about the Pankhursts and their fight for women’s suffrage during High School. But it’s only recently that I’ve come to understand and appreciate their connection to Manchester. Sculptor Hazel Reeves chose to portray Pankhurst as she stands on a chair making a speech and points in the direction of the Free Trade Hall, where many of the early Suffragette meetings took place. It’s an essential stop on any tour of Manchester.