How protests against statues helped the cause of the women’s vote

PUBLISHED: 11:02 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:02 15 June 2020

Statue of Edward Geoffrey Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby still stands in Preton's Miller Park

Statue of Edward Geoffrey Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby still stands in Preton's Miller Park

Archant

In the last few weeks protesters across the country have targeted statues of contentious historic figures, but attacks on statues are nothing new.

In Preston during the suffragettes’ fight to gain the vote for women, one of their more militant members caused damage to a statue which can still be seen today.

Edith Rigby was arrested and imprisoned seven times for crimes including an arson attack on Lord Leverhulme’s Rivington home and throwing a bomb into the Exchange Buildings in Liverpool.

She also daubed the Earl of Derby’s statue in Miller Park with tar and a ‘Votes for Women’ poster but escaped the long arm of the law on that occasion by dressing in male clothing and riding off on a bicycle.

The statue cost £2500 was unveiled in May 1873 in front of a crowd on 40,000 people. It shows Edward Geoffrey Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby and three time Prime Minister, holding his coat tails but that didn’t save him from Edith Rigby’s tar attack and the stains are still clearly visible.

Edith Rigby is remembered with a blue plaque on the wall of her former home in Winckley Square, just a short walk from the statue. In recent years a campaign has been launched for a statue of her.

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