The Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee


YOU MAY LIKE TO LOOK AT THIS: WOMEN'S VIEWS ON NEWS: FOLLOW THIS LINK

 

2014 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

The 2014 lecture will take place on Friday 15 August at Wortley Hall, near Sheffield, and will be given by Hester Reeve. Title: "The Militant Suffragette as a Militant Artist" 7pm

Hester Reeve is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work has been shown in various venues including former Randolph Street Gallery Chicago, LIVE Biennale Vancouver, Arnolfini Bristol and The Women’s Library Gallery, London. She also collaborates with Olivia Plender under the umbrella of the Emily Davison Lodge and together they curated the recent Sylvia Pankhurst Display at Tate Britain and accompanying colloquium. Hester has a Masters in Philosophy and is a trained facilitator of David Bohm’s Dialogue. In the 90s she was based in former Czechoslovakia where she worked as an activist with various environmental organisations and co-authored an oral history publication, Libkovice: Zdaž Buh, which charted the demolition of a small North Bohemian village Libkovice and the transition from Communism to Democracy.

 

2013 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

The 2013 lecture took place on Friday 16 August at Wortley Hall, near Sheffield

Women and the 1913 Dublin Lockout: British solidarity, Sylvia's part in that including her visit to Ireland in 1914 was given by Theresa Moriarty, labour historian (pictured below)

The text of the lecture will be available shortly

 

2012 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

The 2012 lecture took place on Friday 17 August at Wortley Hall, near Sheffield.

Divide and Rule - the oldest tactic in the book was given by Sarah Veale.

Download a pdf of the lecture here.

 

House of Lords activities

First of all, the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee is delighted to welcome The Rt Hon The Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde (Brenda Dean) as a Patron of our campaign to erect a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst, and equally, to thank her for organising a showing of the WORLDwrite film on the life of Sylvia to supporters at the House of Lords on 6 December 2011.

Amongst those attending was Baron Bach of Lutterworth (Willie Bach) - not only a supporter of the campaign, but his great-aunt, Emmeline Goulden, married into the Pankhurst family and became one of the leaders of the suffragette campaign that led to women being given the vote. Before the film he shared some of his memories and memorabilia of his family's involvement in that vital campaign.

Parliamentary bodies have a key role to play in granting permission for the statue to be placed on the Committee's chosen site on College Green and we also warmly welcome the engagement of key cross-party support in the House of Lords evidenced by this event.

pictured: Brenda Dean with Committee member Barbara Switzer

 

2011 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

The 2011 lecture took place on Friday 12 August at Wortley Hall, near Sheffield.

"Suffrage campaigners on the ocean wave" was given by Dr Jo Stanley FRHistS.

Download a pdf of the slides Jo's lecture was based on here.

 

Professor Pankhurst's address on the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Pankhurst's death

2010 is the 50th anniversary of Sylvia's death in Addis Ababa. You can download Richard Pankhurst's address, given in Addis Ababa on the 17 October 2010 here.

 

2010 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

The 2010 lecture took place on Friday 13 August 2010 at Wortley Hall, Sheffield.

Irene Cockroft, exhibition curator, author and lecturer, spoke on How the Vote was Won illustrated with wonderful slides.

Once more the lecture room was full - you can download and read the lecture here.

Above: Irene Cockroft with Richard and Rita Pankhurst after the lecture at Wortley Hall

 

2009 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

The 2009 lecture took place on Friday 21 August 2009 at Wortley Hall, Sheffield.

Dr Jacqueline Mulhallen's lecture was titled "Artist and Political Campaigner" and was illustrated with slides from her personal collection, showing Sylvia's early works of women workers from the last century (brief biography of Dr Mullhallen here).

The lecture room was full and Jacqueline's talk was extremely well received by all present. You can download an abbreviated version of Jacqueline's lecture here.

 

Above: Dr Jacqueline Mulhallen with Richard and Rita Pankhurst after the lecture at Wortley Hall

 

2008 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

The 2008 lecture took place on Friday 15 August 2008 at Wortley Hall, Sheffield.

Professor Mary Davis spoke on Women Workers and the Suffrage Campaign: class politics vs gender politics?

Above: Rita and Richard Pankhurst, with Professor Mary Davis, after the lecture at Wortley Hall

You can read the lecture here

 

2007 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

The 2007 lecture (17 August 2007, Wortley Hall, Sheffield) was given by Professor Sheila Rowbotham, author.

Entitled "Sex, Sun and Socialism - (near Sheffield): Edward Carpenter 1844 to 1929", you can download the flyer here.

 

2006 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

The 2006 lecture (18 August 2006) was given by Rita Pankhurst, academic and campaigner.

Entitled "Sylvia Pankhurst and Ethiopia", you can download it here, and click here for a brief biography of Rita.

 

inspired by Baroness Dean!

Gina Holbrook from Bury heard Brenda Dean on Radio 4 talking about our campaign for a lasting memorial to Sylvia Pankhurst and was inspired to enter a competition... Property developer Urban Splash were seeking names for its 3 Towers development in Manchester - Gina suggested Emmeline, Sylvia and Christabel and won!

 

thankyou Brenda, for your continued work!

On Thursday 16 March 2006 in the House of Lords debate to celebrate women's achievements, Brenda Dean expressed her frustration at the lack of progress on gaining the House of Lords' Administration and Works Committee's approval for the use of our chosen site (below is an extract from Hansard)

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde: One aspect of visibility which concerns me is this House. Women are not terribly visible in pictures or as statues, or in any manifestation other than the women who work in this Chamber. As many of your Lordships will know, I am interested in, and committed to, the Sylvia Pankhurst statue. I am puzzled as to why a difficulty surrounds a statue of a woman who in my view was the key suffragette-it was not her mother, nor her sister, Christabel. Sylvia was the kind of woman who, had she been in this Chamber today, would have spoken up for the radical policies. Yes, she supported votes for women, but she supported also the full empowerment of women. She lived and worked in the East End. She believed in women having the right to choose and in women's education. She was not going to pack her bags and go when women won the vote. The statue is quite an issue for me, which neither I nor many Members of this House will let go. I am sure that we will find a successful outcome. This House usually gets there through the usual channels.

 

The 2005 Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture

Friday 30 September, 7.30pm, at Wortley Hall, Sheffield

WHY WOMEN NEED SOCIALISM

Given by Gloria Mills, President of the TUC, and a Vice-President of the National Assembly of Women

Sponsored by the National Assembly of Women, the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee and Wortley Hall. The lecture will be followed by light refreshments

If you require accommodation overnight at Wortley Hall contact them on 0114 288 2100, or info@wortleyhall.com. www.wortleyhall.org.uk

download the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture 2004 (Friday 17 September 2004 at Wortley Hall, Sheffield)

SYLVIA PANKHURST AND THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR

given by Richard Pankhurst, Professor of Ethiopian Studies at Addis Ababa University.

sponsored by the National Assembly of Women, the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee and Wortley Hall. The lecture will be followed by light refreshments.

Download the text of Professor Pankhurst's lecture here (8pp pdf file)

 

Campaign update

Maquette viewing - House of Lords, 27 June

The silence over the past few months doesn't mean that there has been no activity!

Brenda Dean and some of her colleagues in the House of Lords have been carrying the flag and beavering away to gain support to place the statue on College Green.

On 21 May they met with Valerie Amos, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords and received a sympathetic response. She suggested that we hold a viewing in the House. The event was publicised widely amongst peers and was a very successful and encouraging afternoon. Among those who attended were Valerie Amos, James Crathorne (secretary of the Arts and Heritage group), Peter Goldsmith (Attorney General), Genista McIntosh, Betty Lockwood (first chair of the EOC), Ruth Rendell (author), and Robert Winston.

When parliament returns after the summer recess, Brenda and her colleagues will be assessing the situation and decide the next move.

 

OBE for Professor Pankhurst

Professor Richard Pankhurst has been awarded the OBE "for services to Ethiopian studies". He has written to the Queen urging the repatriation to Ethiopia of six Ethiopian manuscripts looted by British troops from Emperor Theodore's fortress of Magdala in Ethiopia in 1868. They are currently held in the Royal Library in Windsor Castle.

 

in the Lords...

House of Lords 9 March 2004 7.44pm

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde: …

Having said that, I must raise one negative point. It is not something that the Minister or the Government can deal with; it relates to the House's Administration Committee. I am ashamed to say that that committee has refused to agree to the erection of a statue dedicated to Sylvia Pankhurst. There is one for her mother and one for her sister. The committee in the House of Commons has agreed, and Westminster City Council has given planning permission. It is being held up by the Administration Committee of this House. Members, myself included, have written letters on the subject and have been told, "No", but I do not think that we will leave the issue there.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: ….

I add my voice to that of my noble friend Lady Dean, who made a point about the House of Lords Administration and Works Committee having refused to allow a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on Abingdon College Green. As a mere Minister, I could not possibly comment on that committee, but I suggest that it is perhaps mistaken in thinking that Mrs Pankhurst has no connection with the House of Lords that would justify such a prominent site. Quite the contrary, I add my support to those questioning this decision. Sylvia Pankhurst was one of the most prominent suffragettes and clearly deserves this recognition which is long overdue.

in the Commons...

House of Commons 4 March 2004 5.10pm

Vera Baird (Redcar) (Lab)…

Finally on the occasion of this momentous day for women which we celebrate as women Members of Parliament, I shall briefly mention earlier women who had to contend with much more than being excluded from a game of snooker and who fought, argued and, in at least one case, died so that we could have our equal rights and, of particular resonance to us, the right to vote. There is a current issue about Sylvia Pankhurst. She was a socialist feminist who, during the campaign for women's suffrage at the turn of the century, not only braved the horrors of hunger striking and forced feeding, but founded and built a remarkable women's organisation in the east end of London. The group, the East London Federation of Suffragettes, was composed of working-class women. The suffragette movement was almost exclusively middle class apart from this. They campaigned for the vote and for social change until 1920, sticking with it long after the Women's Social and Political Union run by Sylvia's mother Emmeline and her sister Christabel had pulled out of the fight.

There is much more to be said about Sylvia Pankhurst-not least, harking back to what my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Julie Morgan) said, that she went to live in Ethiopia. She worked hard there and championed Ethiopia when it was conquered by fascist Italy. She was invited to live there and when she died she was given a state funeral. I had the privilege of visiting her grave twice last year and the year before when I went to Ethiopia to talk to the judiciary about how to deal with domestic violence-the Ethiopian judiciary know a lot more than the Conservative party about that-and then to talk to the police about domestic violence. What wonderful women I met there, and how they all remember what Sylvia Pankhurst did for them.

Returning home, I believe that Sylvia's strategy, based as it was on an alliance between class and gender, did far more to win the vote for all women than the more elitist and, ultimately, probably diversionary politics of her mother and sister. It is thus richly ironic that the British state has chosen to honour Emmeline and Christabel for their contribution to women's suffrage with a statue to the former and a plaque to the latter outside Parliament while completely ignoring Sylvia's role. She would not especially have liked such a memorial but, as a symbol of the unsung heroism of thousands of working-class women who fought for the franchise and for socialism, some kind of recognition in the form of a statue is long overdue and would at long last help to correct the historical record. I alert women to the position of the campaign for a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on College green. Westminster city council has given planning permission for that wonderful statue, and Members may know that the Accommodation and Works Committee of the House of Commons, which has some responsibility in such matters, has agreed. However, the Administration and Works Committee of the House of Lords has turned down the proposal, saying that if a statue were to be put in such a key position there would have to be a competition. However, the site has been empty for a long time and no one has applied. The Committee also claimed that the statue does not have artistic stature, yet its members have never seen the statue. Apparently, the decision falls to the House of Commons Commission. What better tribute could there be than for our debate to galvanise the Commission into allowing that long overdue memorial to be raised? I hope that all Members will do everything that they can to press and lobby the Commission to ensure that the campaign comes to a successful conclusion. I venture to say to my sisters that if history has to repeat itself and we are obliged to chain ourselves to railings, I hope they will all be there.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con)…

…I was interested in her fight over the statue; it was the first time that I had heard of the problem. I cannot speak for my hon. Friends, but I can speak for myself and it is about time that Sylvia Pankhurst was recognised. It is appalling that we have hit the buffers on the issue, so if there is any cross-party action that I can take with my sisters-I cannot believe that I said that-on the other side of the House, I am willing to join in, in the spirit of us against the rest of them…

The Deputy Minister for Women and Equality (Jacqui Smith)…

The original international women's day slogan-bread and roses-symbolises the demands for economic security and a better quality of life. Those aspirations still form the basis of our actions today. I am pleased to say that we have come a long way since then thanks to the determination and courage of women in the past. Women in the UK have had the vote for almost 80 years, although I have to say that I agree with everything that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Redcar (Vera Baird) said about Sylvia Pankhurst.


The logic of the Mad House…

A decision by the House of Lords Administration & Works Committee objecting to the raising of a statue to commemorate Sylvia Pankhurst on Abingdon College Green has infuriated the statue's many supporters.

The Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee's chosen site, for which they have planning permission from Westminster City Council, is nearer the Lords than the Commons and the Lords committee has refused permission saying "Sylvia Pankhurst had no connection with the Lords which could justify the choice of such a prominent site"!

"She was the most important individual in women's emancipation" says former Speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd. "If Pankhurst can't have a statue on College Green, why not take up the spirit of the suffragettes and chain one to the railings outside parliament?"

Lord Peston said "to put forward that she had no direct connection with their Lordships' House as the reason for rejecting the proposal is to confirm precisely why she among others fought as they did. It is an insult to their memory to argue in this way and brings no credit to us".

Commenting on the tradition that the Lords committee decides on statutory if it is closer to them than to the Commons, Megan Dobney of the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee said:

"This is tradition gone mad. For centuries it was traditional that women didn't have the vote. For an unelected House to be able to refuse this site for a woman who was instrumental in gaining the vote for half the population is the logic of the Mad House."

Anne Picking MP has tabled an Early Day Motion supporting the site:

That this House supports the Accommodation and Works Committee decision to site the Sylvia Pankhurst Statue on Abingdon College Green.

Linda Perham MP said "I have always considered College Green as being opposite the whole Palace complex - it's just that it is nearer the House of Lords end, and as a woman MP I know that if Sylvia and her mother and sisters and their predecessors had not fought so tirelessly for the equality of the franchise, I and 252 other women MPs and women peers might not have been able to take our places in the Houses of Parliament".

Notes:

11 November 2003: House of Lords Administration & Works Committee refused approval to the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee's plans for a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on Abingdon College Green.

10 December 2003: House of Commons Accommodation & Works Committee approved the site and referred the matter back to the House of Lords Administration & Works Committee for reconsideration.

27 January 2004: House of Lords Administration & Works Committee again withheld its consent. Early Day Motion available on http://edm.ais.co.uk/weblink/html/printable.html/ref=416 The EDM has, at the time of writing, 88 signatures.


The East Lothian question...

Wednesday 7 January 2004, Prime Minister's Question Time:

Anne Picking (East Lothian) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Accommodation and Works Committee has asked the equivalent Committee in the other place to reconsider where to put the statue of Sylvia Pankhurst? Although I understand that that is a House matter, does he agree that Sylvia Pankhurst did wonderful things to help the struggles of working-class women? As we honour men who run about a field kicking balls, can we not commemorate someone who had some?

The Prime Minister: I am looking for the Sylvia Pankhurst brief, but it does not appear to be with me. We have nothing against men kicking balls around a field - we are completely in favour of them, especially when they win the world cup for England.

Mr Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con): That was rugby.

The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman might have noticed that they kick the ball on the rugby field as well. Anything that happens to a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst is matter for the House. Obviously, I should like her to be honoured; she was a tremendous champion of women's rights and women's suffrage-but the details should not be for me but for the House authorities.

thankyou Anne!

watch the video - try http://www.annualreport.gov.uk/output/page306.asp#


Hurray! Commons Sense!!!!!

The House of Lords Accommodation & Works Committee, on 11th November 2003, took the disappointing decision to oppose the siting of our statue on College Green (for which we have planning permission from Westminster City Council).

We immediately wrote to all sponsors asking that they lobby its Commons equivalent, the Administration & Works Committee, which met on 10th December 2003.

The letters poured in and we are so delighted to be able to say that they voted by four votes to two for the statue to go on College Green.

They have asked the House of Lords Committee to reconsider its decision.

Thankyou to all our wonderful sponsors who encouraged their MPs to raise the issue with the Committee, thankyou to all the MPs who responded to their constituents' requests, thankyou to all the sponsors who are MPs who wrote or spoke to Admin & Works Committee members, and thankyou to the four farsighted, responsive, progressive and thoughtful MPs who voted for our site.

More news as it is available!

 

Why this site?

We feel the site is particularly appropriate for a statue of Sylvia for the following reasons:

She will be looking towards the Palace of Westminster from which women were excluded. This links directly to her campaign Give Women the Vote. In 1914 Sylvia, recently released from prison, threatened an indefinite hunger and thirst strike until the Prime Minister, Asquith, agreed to meet a delegation of working women. The meeting took place - Sylvia was so weak that she had to be carried from the Statue of Richard Coeur de Lyon outside the Lords to the St. Stephen's entrance outside the Commons. Both of these places are in her statue's line of vision looking towards the Palace of Westminster.

Her commitment to improving the economic and social conditions of the poor, which she saw starkly in her work in the east end of London, emphasised the importance of sending MPs who were representative of workers into Parliament.

She was an ardent anti-racist campaigner too - so universal suffrage was her overall objective - which, again, makes the site appropriate.

The site on College Green is sunny and open - the public will be able to walk past the statue, or stop and look more closely (unlike Parliament Square which is in the middle of a major "traffic roundabout" and very divorced from people visiting the House of Commons). It stands opposite to the existing memorials to her sister and mother.

Given that Sylvia was expelled from the WSPU, the organisation controlled by her mother and elder sister, she should not be in the same place as her sister and mother but we feel it is appropriate that she is close to them.

The statue is designed to share scale with College Green - of sufficient stature to impress, but not to overwhelm. And, of course, Westminster City Council agrees with us and have granted planning permission for this site.

 


Inaugural Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Lecture 2003

Class, Race and Gender given by Professor Mary Davis, Labour Historian, head of the Centre for Trade Union Studies at London Metropolitan University, and author of "Sylvia Pankhurst, a life in radical politics"

Download the text of Professor Davis' lecture (16pp pdf file)


On Wednesday 11th June Sponsors gathered near the House of Commons to view the bronze maquette of our statue and receive an update on progress. Barbara reported that all the papers necessary for the hearing at the Parliamentary Works of Art Committee had been submitted and our target date is now December 2004. We really need the funding now if we are to make our dream a reality!
The pictures show, from top left clockwise: The committee with the bronze maquette (Barbara Switzer, Megan Dobney, Philippa Clark, Mary Davis); Ian Walters (the sculptor) with Linda Perham MP; two sponsors with Philippa (Judy McKnight, General Secretary of probation workers union NAPO, and Barbara White from the Musicians Union); Mary Davis reminding sponsors of Sylvia

 

Contents

What we want last updated 11 April 2001

purchase a Maquette of the statue last updated 21 April 2003

T-shirts and cards last updated 12 December 2009

new The Sylvia Pankhurst Library last updated 28 May 2002

The statue last updated 26 January 2001

Latest press coverage last updated 4 February 2004

Press coverage last updated 4 February 2004

About Sylvia Pankhurst (including books of interest) last updated 5 August 2009

About the Committee last updated 7 July 2011

Sponsors last updated 29 March 2014

New sponsors last updated 29 March 2014

Sites you may wish to visit last updated 5 August 2009

Suffrage postcards last updated 16 November 1999


To donate to the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Fund, send your cheque, made payable to "SERTUC (Sylvia Pankhurst)" to SERTUC at the address below.

Contact us at: Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee, SERTUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS, UK or email us. megan@gn.apc.org