Final sign off given to Annie Kenney statue
Monday 3rd December 2018 @ 12:23 by Lauren Entwistle
News Oldham Town

Plans for a statue to commemorate Oldham suffragette Annie Kenney have been given the final seal of approval – a fortnight before it is unveiled on the centenary of women first being allowed to vote.

By Charlotte Green, local democracy reporter.

The bronze statue of Annie Kenney will be officially revealed to the public on a plinth outside the Old Town Hall on Parliament Square on December 14.

The date marks exactly 100 years since the 1918 general election, in which 8.5 million women were allowed to vote for the first time under the Representation of the People Act.

Designed by sculptor Denise Dutton, the statue depicts Annie in the Votes for Women sash and ringing a bell.

Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon, who also chairs the Annie Kenney project, said the sculpture has “captured Annie’s spirit beautifully”.

The council’s planning department have this week granted permission for the 2.5 metre high statue, which has been funded entirely through donations raised by the Annie Kenney Memorial Fund Committee.

Case officer Graeme Moore said the location outside the former town hall is a ‘fitting location’ for the suffragette, which will make a “positive contribution to the conservation area and to the town of Oldham.”

The honour of unveiling the statue will go to children from St Thomas’ School, in Lees – Annie’s birthplace – who have been telling her story throughout the year.

The event takes place on the same day as a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst is revealed for the first time in St Peter’s Square in Manchester.

It is being organised by the director of Oldham Theatre Workshop in conjunction with Oldham’s Town Centre Management team.

A march has been organised to Parliament Square which will be headed by a brass band, and will be represented by many organisations from Oldham including trade unions, local businesses, schools, community organisations, and residents.

Actor Maxine Peake, who has been a keen supporter of the campaign, will also be attending the ceremony, along with Springhead-born Amy Gavin who played Annie in the BBC’s How Women Won the Vote.

Mr McMahon has also asked people to bring a flower to the event to remember ‘inspiring women’ who have made a difference to their lives.

Born in 1879, Annie was one of 12 children and worked in a cotton mill from the age of ten, where she became in involved in trade unionism.

In 1905, she and Christabel Pankhurst – one of the daughters of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst – interrupted a Manchester rally to ask Winston Churchill, then MP for Oldham, and his Liberal Party colleague Sir Edward Grey if they believed women should have the right to vote.

They were thrown out and jailed, with Christabel Pankhurst accused of spitting at a policeman.

Her commitment to the cause led Annie to be imprisoned a total of 13 times, and she also took part in hunger strikes.

However she rose through the ranks of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), eventually becoming its deputy in 1912, a rare position for a working class person to attain.

The procession will begin at 1.30pm at Gallery Oldham leading to the Old Town Hall, for the unveiling at 2.15pm.