Header

Significant Manchester Women - Andrew Simcock (Nov. 2021)

emmeline pankhurst manchesterHelen Pankhurst, the great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, stands next to a statue of Emmeline, by sculptor Hazel Reeves following its unveiling in St Peter's Square in Manchester on 10th December 2018.

The 10th December election of 1918 saw 8.5 million women eligible to vote and 17 female candidates stand for election, although only one was elected- and she never went to Parliament. link

{click on the image to see a close-up of the sculpture}

The November talk was the story of a statue. Not just any statue but the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, the iconic figure symbolising the fight for universal suffrage. And how fitting that she should be commemorated in Manchester, the city of her birth. Andrew Simcock took us through the various stages from conception to completion after introducing himself as a Manchester councillor for Didsbury East.

Poster 1

  • The initial idea - (By a woman, of course. It would never have occurred to a man)
  • Council agreement. - (Provided it didn’t cost the ratepayers one penny)
  • Preparing a long list of candidates - (Twenty women with a Manchester connection)
  • Raising funds (Including the Lands End - John O’Groats bike ride, average 48 miles per day.)
  • Choosing the short list sculptors (Four men, two women)
  • Voting for the subject (Emmeline Pankhurst by a landslide - 56% of the vote)
  • Voting for the artist (Appropriately a woman, Hazel Reeves)
  • Installation and unveiling (14th December 2018.)

[click on the poster to see a second one]

Manchester was very proud of itself commemorating a pioneering woman exactly 100 years to the day after the first election when women were allowed to vote. However, as Andrew pointed out, of the eighteen statues in the city centre, only one was a woman - and that was Queen Victoria. Indeed two of the surrounding towns, Rochdale and Oldham, had outdone Manchester by commemorating notable women. Rochdale was the first borough in Greater Manchester to unveil the statue of a woman, in this case Gracie Fields, in 2016. Oldham followed with a statue of the suffragette, Annie Kenny, which was unveiled on the same day as Emmeline Pankhurst but slightly earlier.

It seems wrong that only one woman of the twenty that were put forward has been chosen. Andrew listed them all briefly but they deserve more recognition. Some are well-known but others, equally deserving, are little more than names. How many of these do you know?

  • Lydia Becker 1827 - 1890
    A Manchester born amateur scientist who took up the suffragist cause at an early stage and founded the Women’s Suffrage Journal.              
  • Louise Da-Cocodia 1934 - 2008
    A Jamaican nurse who made Manchester her home and campaigned vigorously for race equality. A magistrate and appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Manchester.
  • 1Elizabeth Gaskell 1810 - 1865 
    Brought up in Knutsford, Elizabeth married the minister of the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, a key meeting place for social reformers. She played a key role in promoting social reform with her novels.
  • Annie Horniman 1860 - 1937
    A theatrical entrepreneur who founded the first regional repertory company in Britain at the Gaiety Theatre. A well known figure in the artistic life of the city.
  • 2Sunny Lowry 1911 - 2008
    Manchester born and bred. A pioneering long distance swimmer. One of the first women to swim the English Channel.
  • Kathleen Ollerenshaw 1912 - 2014
    A mathematician based in Manchester who became a councillor and then Lord Mayor of Manchester. A freeman of the city and adviser on education to Margaret Thatcher.
  • Emmeline Pankhurst 1858 - 1928
    Born in Manchester and co-founder of WSPU (suffragettes.) Was the leader and initiated many of the civil disobedience demonstrations and direct action. One of the first suffragettes to go to prison (for spitting at a policeman.)
  • Sylvia Pankhurst 1882 - 1960
    Younger daughter of Emmeline and initially member of WSPU. Fell out with her family as was committed socialist.
  • 3Elizabeth Raffald 1733 - 1781                                                                                                                                   Entrepreneur in Manchester publishing both directories and a very popular cook book. Established an employment office for domestic servants.
  • Esther Roper 1868 - 1938
    One of first female students at Owens College (Manchester University). Became active suffrage worker and lived openly with Eva Gore-Booth.
  • Enriqueta Rylands 1843 - 1908
    Widow of John Rylands who built up the largest textile manufacturing concern in UK. She inherited £2.5 million (£350 million today) and built John Rylands Library in his memory and bought several collections of books. The first woman to be made a Freeman of Manchester.
  • 4Shena Simon 1883 - 1972
    Educated at Cambridge and LSE but became a ‘steamboat lady’ in order to get a degree. Married Ernest Simon (Simon Engineering). Active in local government and gave Wythenshawe Park to Manchester.
  • Marie Stopes 1880 - 1958
    Became first female academic at Manchester University as a paleobotany (sub set of geology). Wrote book on birth control and achieved national prominence. Established birth control clinics against widespread opposition.
  • Ellen Wilkinson 1891 - 1947
    Working class graduate joined National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Became trade unionist. Became MP for Middlesborough then Jarrow and was leading light in Jarrow March. Minister of Education in 1945-47.

 Notes:

1 The Society visited Gaskell House, read here

2 Victoria Baths were also included in the outing above, in March 2015

3 In March '19 Suze Appleton delivered a talk the Society on Elizabeth Raffald, click link

4 Shena Simon, a 'steamboat lady' links...

Link 1: In 1904, the ‘Steamboat Ladies’ Kicked Off a Trinity Equality Battle. It’s Still Going

Link 2 : 45 minute Radio Documentary

millgirls hollins millMill Girls Leaving Hollins Mill

Andrew wound up his talk by describing his current venture,being involved with others, in an effort to erect a statue for Emily Williamson, the co-founder of the RSPB. However, Hilary Atkinson, in thanking him for his talk, conjectured on the erection of a statue closer to our hearts - of the mill girls leaving Hollins Mill, based on the iconic photograph above, drawn from our archive. However, if a statue of one woman costs £165,000 what would a statue of a group of women cost? Would the sculptor give a discount for quantity?

Neil Mullineux

November 2021

Further reading etc:

The WoManchester Statue Campaign

The unveiling of the Pankhurst Statue Ceremony video here

Manchester Community Choir: Nana was a Suffragette YouTube Video

And the launch video for the Emily Williamson statue campaign is here:

And a lot more on the campaign here: www.emilywilliamsonstatue.com

Women of Significane

(click on an image to view a larger version)

M.A.

Margaret Ashton

M.A.
L.B.

Lydia Becker

L.B.
L.D-C.

Louise Da-Cocodia

L.D-C.
M.D.

Margaret Downes was martyred at the Peterloo Massacre. Not much else is known about her.

Women in particular had been targeted by the the yeomanry, at Peterloo. Although women made up only 12% of the crowd, they were nearly 26% of the 654 recorded casualties, and many had been hit by weapons rather than being trampled or crushed in the melee. Four women died of a result of their injuries, including Sarah Jones and Margaret Downes, who were bludgeoned and stabbed to death, and Martha Partington, who died from being thrown into an open cellar, and Mary Heys, who died giving birth to her seventh child after her assault caused a premature labor. The youngest known victim was 2 year old William Fields, who was knocked out his mother’s arms by a yeomen’s horse. 

Dreadful_Scene_at_Peterloo

M.D.
E.G.

Elizabeth Gaskell

E.G.
A.H.

Annie Horman

A.H.
S.L.

Sunny Lowry

S.L.
H.M.

Hannah Mitchell

H.M.
 K.O.

Dame Kathleemn Ollerenshaw

K.O.
C.P.

Christabel Pankhurst

C.P.
E.P.

Emmeline Pankhurst

E.P.
S.P.

Sylvia Pankhurst

S.P.
E.P.

Esther Roper

E.P.
E.R.

Elizabeth Raffald

E.R.
E.R.

Enriqueta Rylands

 

E.R.
M.S.

Marie Stopes

M.S.
O.S.

Olive Shapley

O.S.
S.S.
E.W.

Ellen Wilkinson

rrow

E.W.
E.W.

Emily Williamson

E.W.

Suffragettes

A.K. & C.P.

Annie Kenny and Christbel Pankhurst

Annie Kenney (1879-1953) came from a working class family of twelve children. She worked in a cotton mill full-time from the age of 13. She was self-educated and involved in improving workers’ rights. Annie joined the WSPU in 1905 to become its deputy by 1912. She was force fed many times and campaigned tirelessly for women’s right to vote.

Christabel Pankhurst (1880 –1958) daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and sister to Silvia. She was one of the founders of the Women’s Social and Political Union. This movement campaigned for votes for women and its supporters were called suffragettes.

A.K. & C.P.
Force Feeding

After years of peaceful campaigning resulted in little change, Suffragettes moved on to direct action. Women chained themselves to railings, smashed windows and committed arson.

Prisons became full of Suffragettes who continued their acts of civil disobedience behind bars by refusing to eat. These hunger strikers were met with a brutal regime of force feeding which left many with chronic injuries.

Here, Suffragettes describe the process in their own words.

Force Feeding
Scrapbook

Forcible feeding illustration from WSPU prisoners scrapbook

Scrapbook
Arrest

The story of the arrest:

On 21 May 1914, Emmeline Pankhurst, out of prison on licence, led a deputation of 200 women to Buckingham Palace. Watched by large crowds, they were met by 2000 police officers, some of whom were mounted. Amid violent scenes, over sixty people were arrested. A version of this photograph, which shows a frail Emmeline Pankhurst struggling in the arms of a police officer named Inspector Rolfe (1863-1914), was widely reproduced. Pankhurst was immediately returned to Holloway Prison. Outraged at their brutal treatment that day, Suffragettes enacted reprisal attacks which included the smashing of a glass case in the British Museum

Arrest
Anti-Suffragette
Sleepover
Suffragette Meeting

Meeting at Caxton Hall, Manchester, 1908

From the stage...

 

Suffragette Meeting
Suffragette Poster
De-faced Penny

The World in 100 Objects - Suffragette-defaced penny

De-faced Penny