Travel

Manchester: the modern suffragette’s travel guide

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Stylist Team
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Daisy Jackson, assistant editor of Stylist’s sister email Emerald Street MCR and Manchester resident, shares her insider guide to Emmeline Pankhurst’s birthplace.

Manchester: home of football, Corrie and rain. Right? Well, yes, but this year the jewel in its tourism crown is its feminist history. The city was home to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst – born in Moss Side in 1858 – and the site of many of the movement’s key moments. It may be 100 years since those renegade women marched on these cobbles, but it feels like the right time to retrace their steps.

Start at the Pankhurst Centre on Nelson Street. Once Emmeline’s home, this was where the first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union was held – you’ll see the slogan ‘Deeds Not Words’ embroidered on a cushion in the living room. Being in the place where women changed the course of history is extraordinary, and though there are only three rooms, it packs a punch, with a wealth of reading material and artefacts, plus a short propaganda film to watch.

Afterwards, walk to St Peter’s Square, site of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, when 18 protestors were killed by the army. In December, a statue of Emmeline called ‘Our Emmeline’, created by Hazel Reeves, will be unveiled here. For now, you can see her likeness in the nearby Central Library where a ‘Women Like You’ poster by Charlotte Newson – a photo mosaic with 10,000 images of doctors, mothers, politicians, broadcasters, entrepreneurs and more – hangs in the entrance.

Don’t exactly retrace suffragette steps at the nearby Manchester Art Gallery (below), where Annie Briggs, Evelyn Manesta and Lillian Forrester vandalised 13 pieces in 1913 in protest at Emmeline’s imprisonment. See moody portraits by Isabel Dacre and Annie Swynnerton, suffragettes who founded the Manchester Society of Women Artists in 1876. 

When you’ve had your cultural fill, fill your belly in the Gallery Café, where awardwinning chef Mary-Ellen McTague has created a tasty menu. I recommend a sourdough toastie with dry-cured Ayrshire bacon and slow-roast tomatoes – go heavy on the homemade ketchup.

For somewhere to rest your radical head, check out the Northern Quarter’s new Cow Hollow Hotel, with a mural (Serenity by SNIK) representing the female struggle for equality emblazoned on its exterior wall. Or book the Radisson Blu Edwardian on Peter Street, previously the Free Trade Hall, site of the first public women’s suffrage meeting. This is also where Christabel Pankhurst was arrested for challenging Winston Churchill on the subject of women’s suffrage. 

Later, there’s excellent dancing to be had across the street in Albert’s Schloss, where tables have ‘push for prosecco’ buttons. I came, I pushed, I conquered. And I went to Home Sweet Home the morning after for their Oreo-M-F-G pancakes.

My sugar high fuelled the short stroll to the People’s History Museum, which has all manner of radical paraphernalia including an original Pank-a-Squith board game, created to teach people about the campaign. Guide a suffragette from home, via force-feeding and police violence, to PM Herbert Asquith in Parliament.

Back in my favourite bohemian area, the Northern Quarter, on the side of Afflecks Palace, renowned indoor market of indie boutiques, you’ll find a mosaic of Emmeline, affectionately nicknamed ‘Panksy’. Around the corner, The Outhouse project takes over Stevenson Square with a rotation of artists graffitiing masterpieces. Best place to view all this? In warmer weather (it does happen), the patio at new sherry bar Flok is a treat. Otherwise, grab a window seat and a Yard Spritz (gin, vermouth, mint, cucumber and tonic) at diner-deli West Corner. Cheers!

Prices at Radisson Blu Edwardian start from £139 per night, Peter Street M2 5GP. To book, visit radissonblu-edwardian.com

Stylist is celebrating the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote. See more of our commemorative content here.

Illustration (top, of the Pankhurst Centre): Garry Walton at meiklejohn.co.uk