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Manchester’s Emmeline Pankhurst statue gets government backing

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Grace Allen
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The statue of the iconic Suffragette is expected to be unveiled next December. 

Following a lengthy campaign, it has been confirmed that the government will help fund a statue of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester. Currently, 16 out of the city’s 17 statues are male figures, with a sculpture of Queen Victoria (unveiled in 1901) as the only current female representation.

The Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign has been fundraising since 2014. Local councillor Andrew Simcock initially raised almost £3,000 when he cycled 1,059 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 20 days in 2015; he has now confirmed that the government has pledged £370,000 towards projects in Manchester, including the cost of the new sculpture.

Emmeline Pankhurst was selected from a shortlist of six important female figures that had made significant contributions to Manchester. The Suffragette’s great-granddaughter and Patron of the Pankhurst Trust and Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign, Dr Helen Pankhurst said: “Emmeline is a globally iconic figure much beloved in her hometown of Manchester. She will stand guard as an enduring reminder of the struggle for the vote, beckoning us to keep going forward as we continue the journey towards gender equality.”

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The public were also responsible for selecting the statue’s sculptor, Hazel Reeves, whose Rise up, women was the winning design from a shortlist of maquettes created by different artists in April this year. She commented: “I can’t wait to get my hands in the clay! I want to do justice to Emmeline, and make the women of Manchester proud.”

Andrew Simcock revealed that, subject to planning permission, the statue should be unveiled on December 14 2018. Poignantly, that will be the 100th anniversary of some women voting for the first time in a UK General Election.

The Government’s Centenary Cities will also provide funding to Pankhurst Centre, the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst (and where the Suffragette movement was born) in Chorlton on Medlock in Manchester.

The statue will only be the second of Emmeline Pankhurst in the UK – the first was designed in 1930 and stands close to the Palace of Westminster, in London’s Victoria Tower Gardens. 

Check the Pankhurst Centre for updates here.

Image: Rex Features