Coral Horn, founder of the Enterprise Vision Awards visited the Pankhurst Museum in Manchester. Sitting among the monoliths of the modern metropolis is a tiny oasis of peace and calm. In the 1970’s, two small Victorian terraced houses in Nelson Street were saved from demolition. They were awarded Grade II status in 1974. This is the home of the Pankhurst Trust and Manchester Women’s Aid and is a place of historic interest.
Visit The Pankhurst Museum
The Pankhurst Museum
62 Nelson Street was home to Emmeline Pankhurst and her family between 1897 and 1907.
Emmeline is the fierce warrior who fought for women’s rights. Dedicated to achieving women’s suffrage, this political activist shaped the future for women today. Supported by her husband, Richard, and her daughters Sylvia, Christabel and Adela, it was in this house that Emmeline held many meetings debating women’s rights. Most noteworthy, it was here in the parlour of 62 Nelson Road that the Suffragette Movement, the Women’s Social and Political Union, was founded in 1903.
The Pankhurst Museum was created by Pankhurst Trust when the two houses were restored.
As you walk through the front door, you can feel yourself stepping back in time. The ground floor is divided into two areas. One side features exhibits explaining the Suffragette Movement and the key figures. The other side of the house provides space for education and to socialise. The two Nelson Street houses are connected and are used as a women’s’ refuge when the museum is closed.
The parlour is restored so that you can see how it would have been when Emmeline and her friends met. The Edwardian furnishings stir the imagination. You can sit in a chair in the parlour and feel the charged atmosphere of the room where the rights of women were defined. It is not hard to find yourself taken back to a time which was fraught with uncertainty, despair, unification, and hope.
Outside, the garden has been lovingly reclaimed from the weeds and rubble. Visitors can sit here and enjoy the peace and quiet whilst life speeds by beyond the railings. This place encourages reflection on the strength, bravery, and tenacity of the suffragettes, the women who secured our future.
Many of the suffragettes’ actions were decried by the authorities as militant. The suffragettes fought to ensure that women had the same rights as men. However, their journey was fraught with obstacles. Men had the upper hand and were resolute that they would not surrender their power. Prison sentences and hunger strikes were a frequent punishment to the participants. The suffragettes were subject to force-feeding and abuse.
As the media reported on their suffering and chastisement, the suffragette ‘army’ grew as more women, and men joined the battle. Hundreds of thousands joined in marches and meetings all over the United Kingdom. At last, the authorities were unable to ignore the suffragettes’ demand for women’s rights. They had to yield.
Representation of the People Act
As a result of the demonstrations of the suffragettes, the authorities eventually gave in to public demand. On 6 February 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed and women won the right to vote. This act was restricted to women age 30 years old and older who occupied property that had a rateable value over £5. Finally, in 1928, the vote was granted to women over the age of 21 years old, regardless of whether or not they owned property. 23 years after the formation of the Suffragette Movement.
2018 Enterprise Vision Awards Charity of the Year
The Enterprise Vision Awards chose the Pankhurst Trust in Manchester as their 2018 Charity of the Year. The awards ceremony celebrates the achievements of women in business. Without Emmeline Pankhurst, we may be in a very different situation today. It felt apt, that in the centenary year of women winning the right to vote, we honour Emmeline and the Suffragette Movement.
Would you like to find out more about these suffragettes and their epic fight for women? The Pankhurst Museum welcomes visitors. Entry is free and parking is available across the road.
The Pankhurst Trust hopes to raise enough money to continue restorations on the basement. This will also enable them to open the museum more often. Please join us in supporting them.