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Who is the greatest Lancastrian? - Lancashire Life’s poll result revealed

PUBLISHED: 08:59 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:34 06 February 2018

The Lancashire 70 project

The Lancashire 70 project

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A poll taken by Lancashire Life readers has revealed who they think is the greatest.

Portrait of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst (c) Photos.comPortrait of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst (c) Photos.com

Emmeline Pankhurst has been voted the greatest ever Lancastrian. The suffragette received the most votes in our online poll, which was launched as part of Lancashire Life’s 70th anniversary celebrations.

Throughout this year, we have profiled 70 of the most talented, accomplished and successful people from our county. The list included industrial pioneers, comedians, sportspeople, actors, artists, writers and many more and we asked you to vote for who you thought should be crowned the greatest ever Lancastrian.

The poll ran for a month on our website and the suffragette leader won with almost 30% of the votes.

Former Preston North End footballer Sir Tom Finney and Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth of Gawthorpe Hall, Burnley, came joint second, with LS Lowry and Jeremiah Horrocks tied in third.

Emile Pankhurst arrested during protestEmile Pankhurst arrested during protest

Emmeline was born in Moss Side, Manchester in June 1858, into a family with a tradition of radical politics. In 1879 she married Richard Pankurst, a lawyer 24 years her senior who supported the women’s suffrage movement. In 1889, she founded the Women’s Franchise League, which fought to allow married women to vote in local elections and in October 1903 – five years after her husband’s death – she helped found the more militant Women’s Social and Political Union.

The WSPU took direct action including window smashing, arson and hunger strikes. Like many suffragettes, Emmeline was arrested on numerous occasions and went on hunger strike, resulting in violent force-feeding. On the outbreak of war in 1914, Emmeline turned her energies to supporting the war effort. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act gave voting rights to women over 30. Emmeline’s death came in June 1928, shortly after women were granted equal voting rights with men, at 21.

Elaine De Fries from the Pankurst Centre in Manchester, said: ‘Emmeline is a most deserving winner of this poll. She was Lancastrian through and through and we are so honoured that she has been remembered as an iconic figure in the county’s history. It’s an amazing tribute to her work.’

The Pankhurst Centre is based in the building on Nelson Street that Emmeline and her family moved to after her husband died in 1898. It is where she hosted the first meeting of the WSPU and it now houses a small museum and heritage centre and operates a women’s community centre.

Elaine added: ‘Emmeline was involved in politics from an early age and she always believed in equal rights. She worked very hard, every penny she had went towards political action – she lived the campaign. To act in the way she did at that time, and to continue working in spite of being threatened and imprisoned, shows a lot about her character.’

And Emmeline’s great-granddaughter Dr Helen Pankhurst said: ‘It’s wonderful that Lancashire Life readers have voted for Emmeline.

‘She was such a strong woman, the figurehead of women’s rights in the UK, and further afield, but she was also a mother and a working woman. There is a real affection of Emmeline and a sense of ownership of her in Lancashire, and particularly in Manchester – people think of her as ‘Our Emmeline’. There is an emotional bond, an admiration of her courage and an appreciation of her suffering.’

Helen is an international development and women’s rights activist and works for a humanitarian agency Care International. Her latest book, Deeds not Words: the Story of Women’s Rights Then and Now, will be launched at the Pankhurst Centre in February.

Next year will be the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which granted the right to vote to women over 30 and Helen added: ‘The book is a look back at what has happened for women in the last 100 years in politics, culture, work and other areas, and a brief look forward to what could happen in the years to come.’

To see all the objects featured go online to lancashirelife.co.uk/topic/Tag/Lancashire70

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