The shortlist included L.S. Lowry, Emmeline Pankhurst and, er, Liam Gallagher?
Considering 2018 marks 100 years since women first gained the right to vote, it’s apt that suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst has just been crowned ‘Greatest Northerner of all Time.’
(Let's just clarify, by 'Northerner' what they really mean is Manc, or born close to Manchester, unless you're Alan Turing, who was born in London, moving to Manchester at 36... we're guessing it's called 'Greatest Northerner' because the poll was conducted by the Great Northern... just go with it.)
Pankhurst, who was born in Moss Side and campaigned tirelessly for women’s rights in the early twentieth century, narrowly beat computer scientist Alan Turing to win Great Northern’s poll, also beating off artist L.S. Lowry; comedians Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne; actors Maxine Peake and Sir Ian McKellan; music maverick Tony Wilson; rocker Liam Gallagher and footballer Sir Bobby Charlton.
Each member of the shortlist has been illustrated by leading artist Stanley Chow for a permanent free exhibition at Great Northern, and postcards of the portraits can be brought from local charity Forever Manchester.
Eloise Moss, a lecturer in Modern British History at University of Manchester, said of the shortlist: “These amazing, legendary men and women from the worlds of science, drama, politics, and art have not only established the North as the centre of radical new modes of thought and cultural innovation, but also changed the world with their contributions.
“Bridging historic and contemporary periods, and continuing to inspire us through their intelligence, passion and…humour, our Great Northerners are people of whom the region can be truly proud."
The bronze statue will face the Free Trade Hall - where the first public meeting on women’s suffrage took place in 1868
There’s yet more news on the Pankhurst front: WoManchester have now finalised plans for a statue of Emmeline, who beat the likes of Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell and anti-racism campaigner Louise da-Cocodia as the city’s chosen subject.
A planning application by Turley Design, on behalf of the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Project, has been submitted to Manchester City council; detailing proposals for a 25% larger-than-life figure, surrounded by a Portland stone meeting circle, outside the entrance of Two St Peters Square (close to the junction of Dickinson Street and Back George Street.)
Subject to approval, the bronze statue will face the Free Trade Hall - where the first public meeting on women’s suffrage took place in 1868 - and will be revealed on International Women’s Day, in March 2019.
WoManchester are currently fundraising for the project, which was prompted by the fact that sixteen of the city centre’s seventeen statues are men; the exception being Queen Victoria.
Maquettes of Hazel Reeves’ winning design Rise Up, Women! are available to purchase by corporate sponsors, while individuals can donate to the JustGiving page - set up by the campaign’s founder Andrew Simcock, who cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats in twenty days, one for each woman on the original longlist of contenders.
The Pankhurst Centre on Nelson Road is also fundraising towards gender equality, this time in the form of a garden. Once Emmeline’s family home, the centre now houses a small heritage museum and is home to Manchester Women's Aid, which provides housing and practical support for women fleeing abuse. Plant a Seed for Gender Equality aims to commemorate Emmeline’s work, and foster the wellbeing of women still experiencing social injustice today.