In Haunt

Manchester’s historic Pankhurst Centre – the former home of the Pankhurst family and the starting place of many key developments in the women’s suffrage movement – has had to take the difficult decision to suspend all heritage operations in the short term, due to the impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19). With its doors currently closed to visitors in terms of the public health situation and a subsequent impact on donations, this Grade II listed heritage building needs the support of the public more than ever – and that is why it is reaching out to invite people to become Friends of the Pankhurst: www.pankhurst.goodcrm.co.uk/members/onboard/members

Exterior Of The Pankhurst Centre © Pankhurst Trust

This is an opportunity to support what is a truly historic site and museum… it was after all in the parlour of this building at 62 Nelson Street (just off Oxford Road) that Emmeline Pankhurst held the first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903 – the movement that would become known as the suffragettes! The Friends of the Pankhurst scheme also fittingly allows those involved to show their suffragette colours, with membership available at green, white and purple levels –the colours of the WSPU – and meaning that people can make a financial contribution that suits them, from as little as £3 a month.

Although the event that was due to launch the Friends scheme can sadly no longer happen as planned, Friends will be given priority access to future events and will receive the quarterly issues of The Suffragette.

Parlour At The Pankhurst Centre 2 © Pankhurst Trust

Francesca Raine, Fundraising and Development Manager for the Pankhurst Trust reflects:

 “As a small cultural organisation the impact of the coronavirus lockdown has been enormous.  We are taking this decision for the greater good of the Pankhurst Centre and its long termfuture, so that we can then pick up on our plans and come back bigger and stronger than ever before.  We are hoping that people will support us by becoming Friends of the Pankurst Centre, which costs from as little as £3 per month.”

The Pankhurst Centre is after all a place that has, and continues to be, a friend to so many. During the time that Emmeline Pankhurst and her family lived there from 1898 to 1907, they forged many key developments in the fight for suffrage; not only bringing the WSPU together, but leading the campaign Votes for Women. Emmeline, and her daughters Sylvia and Christabel, were all highly significant in the fight for women’s rights. The building has, thanks to ongoing support from the public, defied the prospect of demolition in the past, achieved a Grade II listing and opened as a small museum to welcome visitors in 1987. Now it not only continues the fight for women’s equality today through the education and insight the museum allows, but since 2014 the building has also been home to the headquarters of Manchester Women’s Aid, an independent charity offering a range of confidential services to victims of domestic abuse.

Emmeline Pankhurst's Blue Plaque © Pankhurst Trust

The Pankhurst Centre is the only museum in the country entirely dedicated to telling the story of female suffrage and up until 2017 had been run entirely by volunteers. Now it has a small mostly part-time team as well as continuing volunteer support – but does not have the resources or digital infrastructure of larger historic organisations, meaning that the current restrictions are incredibly challenging. Hence public support is more crucial than ever, and becoming a Friend of the Pankhurst Centre will help secure it for the future so when the time is right, it can open its doors again and continue to explore the history of the fight for women’s equality.

Also known for its usually vibrant events programme – the building playing a  key role in the centenary of the Representation of People Act 1918 events, for example – it is hoped the Pankhurst Centre museum team will be able to begin work on upcoming projects when the public health situation is suitable to do so. Until then, the building will be looked after Manchester Women’s Aid, which as part of the Pankhurst Trust, runs some of its services from the Pankhurst Centre. 

To become a Friend of the Pankhurst Centre visit www.pankhurst.goodcrm.co.uk/members/onboard/members

To access the dedicated services provided by Manchester Women’s Aid call the helpline on 0161 660 7999 (lines are open from 9:30am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday).

For further information on the Pankhurst Centre visit the website www.pankhursttrust.org/pankhurst-centre

By Emily Oldfield 

Photography:

Image 1 - Exterior of the Pankhurst Centre © Pankhurst Trust

Image 2 - Parlour at the Pankhurst Centre 2 © Pankhurst Trust

Image 3 - Emmeline Pankhurst's Blue Plaque © Pankhurst Trust

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