On Friday 14 December 2018, exactly one hundred years since the first women in the UK voted in a General Election, a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst will be unveiled in her home city of Manchester. This will be the climax to a year in which the city began by marking the centenary of the first women achieving the right to vote and throughout has explored its radical roots and central role in both the suffragette and suffragist movements.
That it should be a figure of Emmeline that takes her place amongst the city’s statues was a public choice and it is the public that will be at the heart of this historical unveiling. It will be a day that everyone is invited to participate in that will embrace, bring together and welcome all those who have supported the Our Emmeline project.
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. There are two meeting points the Pankhurst Centre, the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst and the birthplace of the suffragette movement and Great Northern Square; just five minutes walk from People’s History Museum, the national museum of democracy. Marchers are invited to meet at these points, or along the route, before converging at St Peter’s Square to greet Our Emmeline.
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.”
Gail Heath, Chief Executive of the Pankhurst Trust, says, “2018 has been a year that has inspired all of us who are working to carry forward the legacy of those who have fought for equality and it will be wonderful to end the year with such a celebratory and poignant moment.”
Katy Ashton, Director of People’s History Museum, says, “That this significant chapter in the history of our democracy should be marked by an event of the people says much about the spirit of Manchester, and we are delighted to be playing our part in this momentous occasion.”
Marchers and those gathering in St Peter’s Square will be welcomed by the uplifting voices of 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.
When Emmeline is unveiled the sight will be not unlike a scene at the height of her campaigning, with her stood aloft a chair to address those gathered to hear her words. In Hazel Reeves’ design, the meeting circle in which Emmeline is stood, is symbolically orientated towards the former Free Trade Hall, where the first disruptive meetings of the suffragettes took place.
The historical unveiling of Emmeline Pankhurst’s statue will be the first of a woman in Manchester since Queen Victoria was unveiled in Piccadilly Gardens in 1901. Emmeline Pankhurst was selected as the public’s chosen female icon to be immortalised as a statue from a long list of 20 inspiring Mancunian females. As well as voting for Emmeline, the public also voted for Hazel Reeves’ ‘Rise up, women‘ as the winning design from a short list of six maquettes. The unveiling on 14 December 2018 will be the culmination of a campaign launched in 2014 to celebrate the significant contribution of women to the city.
The project was conceived, and has been led and directed by Councillor Andrew Simcock, Chair of the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign. Funding has come from Corporate Sponsors Property Alliance Group and Manchester Airport Group, the Government’s Centenary Fund (Centenary Cities) and individual Gold Sponsors Edwina Wolstencroft, Dennis Morgan, Sue and Stephen Gosztony, Laura and Peter Carstensen, Pauline and Michael Underdown and Andrew Simcock himself, who all purchased a limited edition bronze maquette of Our Emmeline.
Key times for Our Emmeline unveiling, Friday 14 December 2018, Manchester
10:30am marchers gather at Pankhurst Centre
11:00am marchers set off from the march staring point at the Pankhurst Centre
11.15am marches set off from the second march starting point on Great Northern Square
11:15am screenings to commence, including a film of the making of Our Emmeline, in St Peter’s Square
11:45am marchers arrive at St Peter’s Square
12noon unveiling to commence
For further information on the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign and full details on the programme and timings for 14 December 2018 visit: www.womanchesterstatue.org.
A selection of images can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wc9t3rngjryd9rk/AACbxZvF9HPtHhD6Ig2Si87la?dl=0
‘Our Emmeline – ‘Lost Wax’ Bronze Casting’ film can be seen here: https://youtu.be/r89Mbr-twHw
Notes to Editors
People’s History Museum
Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER
Friday 14 December: The Left Bank cafe bar will be open from 8:00am serving breakfast and hot drinks. The museum’s exhibition Represent! Voices 100 Years On and shop will open at a special early time of 9:30am on this day to enable those attending the Our Emmeline unveiling to visit, ahead of the march. Exploring the stories of those who campaigned for better representation; most famously the militant suffragettes, the exhibition asks how far we have really come since 1918, when the Representation of the People Act gave the vote to all men and some women in Britain?
60-62 Nelson Street, Manchester M13 9WP
On Friday 14 December 2018 ahead of the unveiling of Our Emmeline, marchers are invited to begin the day by assembling at 10:30am outside 62 Nelson Street, which between 1898 and 1907, was the home of Emmeline Pankhurst and her three daughters: Christabel, Sylvia and Adela. In this period of less than a decade, these women gave the struggle for the vote a new and historic momentum, founding the iconic WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) in 1903 and becoming the driving forces behind the Votes for Women campaign.
Hazel Reeves MRBS SWA FRSA is a gifted award-winning figurative sculptor, passionate about people and their stories, with figure and portrait commissions in bronze a specialty, such as her monumental Sir Nigel Gresley statue, unveiled at King’s Cross station in 2016, and her bronze figure of Sadako Sasaki, who continues to inspire peace activism worldwide.
In March 2017, Hazel was awarded the commission to celebrate in bronze the lives of women biscuit factory workers – the ‘Cracker Packers’ – from the Carr’s (now McVities) factory in Carlisle. This was unveiled on International Women’s Day 2018. Hazel was inspired by the warm and vibrant stories of the camaraderie of the Cracker Packers, past and present. Such stories of working women’s lives rarely make it into formal history yet need to be celebrated and shared with future generations.
Hazel’s artistic vision is driven by her international reputation for promoting gender equality and women’s rights. Hazel is never happier than when she is combining her passion for portraiture with telling stories of struggles for social justice and stories of the lives of working class women. Curiosity in people, their faces and their stories form the heart of her work.
Hazel is a member and formerly on the Council of the Society of Women Artists (SWA), an elected member of the Royal Society of Sculptors (RSS), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and the sculptor advising the Hove Plinth initiative. For further details see www.hazelreeves.com/biography