“No” vote for Pankhurst statue on Clerkenwell Green

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Pankhurst protesting the English policy in India. Trafalger Square, London, circa 1907. Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons

Some concerned citizens are opposing plans for a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst, famed suffragette, to be erected on Clerkenwell Green.

Ann Pembroke, founder of the Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society, is not opposed to Sylvia Pankhurst being celebrated. However, she believes the Green is an inappropriate location as Pankhurst has no connection to what is an already crowded public space.

The Society considers a statue of Sylvia inappropriate, and would take up what limited space there is for pedestrians and public enjoyment of this historic, village environment”, she says.

“Camden Council has a regulation that only monuments to former residents or those working in the Borough could have the consideration of a monument”.

Al Scott, owner of Scotti’s snackbar on the Green, is also opposed to the plan. “Why don’t they put up a statue of my father? He has more connections to the Green”, he commented.

The statue is expected to cost £80,000 and is being funded by donations, which were “predominantly” made by trade unions, according to Megan Dobney, member of the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee.

A scale model of the proposed statue, housed in the Marx Memorial Library, Islington. Photo by the author.

The Committee is directing the project to get Sylvia a statue, and Regional Secretary of Southern & Eastern Region of Trade Union Councils (SERTUC).

Unions involved include Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF), Unite and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). The money is coming in donations from local branches.

Islington Council has also given money towards the statue.

The decision was taken to place the statue in Clerkenwell due to a “happy coincidence”, says Dobney. The former MP for Islington South & Finsbury, Lord Chris Smith, linked the Committee with Islington Council to put in the statue as part of the regeneration plans for the area.

Sylvia Pankhurst has no known links to Clerkenwell Green. She did, however, spend a period at Holloway Prison, which lies within Islington and is just two miles from the area.

Islington Now is waiting for a response from the Marx Memorial Library on Sylvia Pankhurst’s connections to the area.

Sylvia Pankhurst was a radical left wing activist, who fought for women to get the vote. She famously went on hunger strike in an attempt to force the government to give women equal voting rights.