Exploring The Pankhurst Centre

Heritage Weekend in Manchester this year had a limited list of places to visit but one that stood out to me was the Pankhurst Centre. Having just watched the movie Suffragette  it was good timing.

The centre was open on a Friday specially for Heritage Weekend. Staffed by volunteers normally it is only open a couple of Sundays each month and a few hours on Thursdays. Entrance is free but donations are welcome.

This fairly modest house – 62 Nelson Street in Manchester was the birthplace of the Suffragette Movement. Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters lived here and the very first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union was held in the parlour in 1903. The family moved to London afterwards to be at the centre of the campaign for women’s rights.

In the 1970’s  the lovely Georgian townhouse had fallen into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition by the powers that be. They planned to build a car park on the site – imagine…

Thankfully women’s groups and conservationists were up in arms about this, campaigned heavily against the application and managed to save the house. Now it is Grade II listed and doubles up as a little museum and women’s centre.

The staff were lovely, very engaging and knowledgeable, we chatted for a while before entering the museum proper.

There are only three rooms to explore, it is a bit of a work in progress but totally fascinating. Fund raising continues and they hope to extend the exhibition and eventually open more rooms. Not a contemporary museum with interactive bells and whistles but plenty to read and soak up. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The first room had a film playing on loop about the Suffragettes, their cause and history. There was lots of information too on the various members of the Pankhurst family, their lives in Manchester and what became of them afterwards.

The parlour has Edwardian style furnishings and some of the Pankhurst belongings on display.

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