Located in St Peter’s Square, the life-size suffragette will be revealed after a morning rally
On Friday 14 December 2018 - exactly 100 years since some women got the right to vote - a statue of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst will be unveiled in her native city of Manchester.
It’s the climax to a year of centenary celebrations, and is the result of the WoManchester Statue Project, which was started by Councillor Andrew Simcock in response to the medium’s lack of female representation: of all the centre's public statues, Queen Victoria in Piccadilly Gardens and Enriqueta Rylands in the John Rylands Library are the only women.
Pankhurst, born in 1858, was founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union - the foremost suffrage movement - and campaigned tirelessly for women’s right to vote; enduring several arrests and hunger strikes as a consequence. Famed for her motto ‘deeds not words,’ she was selected by the public from a long list of twenty inspiring Mancunian females.
The public also voted for Hazel Reeves’ Rise Up, Women (known affectionately as ‘Our Emmeline’) as the winning design from a shortlist of six maquettes. Depicting Pankhurst stood on a chair as she delivered a rousing speech, it is symbolically orientated towards the former Free Trade Hall, where the first disruptive meetings of the suffragettes took place.
Continuing the public’s involvement in the statue project, organisers have invited everyone to a be a part of its historical unveiling. Emmeline’s great grand-daughter Helen Pankhurst had the vision this should be an occasion that sees people gather from across Greater Manchester to march to meet Our Emmeline, and two symbolic rallying points have been selected; near the Pankhurst Centre, the former home of Emmeline and the birthplace of the suffragette movement, and near People’s History Museum, the national museum of democracy. Special ponchos, sashes and rosettes will be available from both, as well as ponchos from Central Library from 10am.
Marchers and those gathering in St Peter’s Square will be welcomed by a performance from Manchester Community Choir before hearing from Councillor Andrew Simcock, Helen Pankhurst and sculptor Hazel Reeves, who will share the story of Our Emmeline. Also present will be the Minister for Equalities Baroness Williams, Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor June Hitchen and Manchester City Council Lead Member for Women, Councillor Sarah Judge.
Andrew Simcock, Chair of the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Committee, said: “Helen Pankhurst’s vision and all those involved in this project have inspired what will take place on the day; this will be a coming together of people to celebrate Emmeline and her legacy and to also celebrate the essence of Manchester, as a place of progression, inclusivity and groundbreaking ideas.”
Helen Pankhurst said: “Our Emmeline is not only a wonderful tribute to the life and work of Emmeline Pankhurst, but is also an incredible legacy to the suffragette movement and the role of Manchester’s women in campaigning for the vote. That she should be unveiled exactly 100 years since the day some women first went to the polls and a few first stood as MPs in a UK election is especially poignant. I hope that Our Emmeline inspires all those who are now helping to continue the ongoing journey towards achieving equality.”
Our Emmeline unveiling, Friday 14 December
Marchers will gather at Great Northern Square (9 minutes' walk from People’s History Museum) and Denmark Road (7 minutes' walk from the Pankhurst Centre) and converge collectively at St Peter’s Square to greet Our Emmeline.
Marchers rallying at Great Northern Square
11:15am: Marchers gather in the Square
NB: As this march is co-organised by the nearby People's History Museum, the museum will be celebrating the day in several ways; including early opening, 20% discount on suffragette specials in the Left Bank Café and a celebratory lunch. Full info here
11.40am: Marchers set off from Great Northern Square, making their way to St Peter’s Square
Marchers rallying at Denmark Road
10.30am: Marchers gather on Denmark Road, by the side of The Whitworth
11:20am: Marchers set off from Denmark Road, making their way to St Peter’s Square
St Peter’s Square
11:05am: Screenings will commence, including a film of the making of Our Emmeline
12.00pm: All marchers arrive
12:10pm: Statue unveiling will commence
Main statue image: Sue Anders Photography