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Victory for Clerkenwell Green campaigners as council announces plan to build Sylvia Pankhurst statue

PUBLISHED: 11:26 18 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:00 19 September 2017

An artist's impression of  the Clerkenwell Green plans, looking out towards Aylesbury Street. Picture: Islington Council

An artist's impression of the Clerkenwell Green plans, looking out towards Aylesbury Street. Picture: Islington Council

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A campaign to build a statue of Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst in Islington’s “most radical street” looks to have succeeded.

Clerkenwell Green in the late 19th century, with the library behind. Picture: Islington CouncilClerkenwell Green in the late 19th century, with the library behind. Picture: Islington Council

The town hall has announced plans to transform Clerkenwell Green, one of the oldest public spaces in the borough, to make it more green and less car-dominated.

Included in the project, which comes hot on the heels of the Archway town centre redevelopment, is the figure of the women’s rights campaigner the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee called for last year in the Gazette.

Clerkenwell councillor Alice Donovan-Hart, chair of the group that helped develop the plans, said: “2018 will mark the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, which afforded women fairer voting rights.

“We think it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate Sylvia’s life and legacy by erecting the statue in Clerkenwell Green.

TUC and City of London Corporation launched a campaign to erect a statue of suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst in Clerkenwell Green last year. L-R: Cllr Alice Donovan, Barbara Switzer, Rodney Bickerstaffe and Megan Dobney. Picture: Ken MearsTUC and City of London Corporation launched a campaign to erect a statue of suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst in Clerkenwell Green last year. L-R: Cllr Alice Donovan, Barbara Switzer, Rodney Bickerstaffe and Megan Dobney. Picture: Ken Mears

“It has a history as a home for activism and has long been used as a gathering point for demonstrations and protests.

“Islington’s recognition of Sylvia’s contribution to women’s suffrage is especially important in consideration of the time she served at Holloway Prison as a result of her work.”

The committee has been calling for a statue of the “forgotten” Suffragette for 17 years, and had a bid to install it near Parliament thrown out by the House of Lords.

Clerkenwell Green dates back to the 12th century, taking its name from the Clerks’ Well which sits to the west of the land. It has a strong connection with radicalism and was the scene of the Chartist demonstrations in the 19th century.

A model of the Sylvia Pankhurst statue campaigners have been calling for. Picture: Ken MearsA model of the Sylvia Pankhurst statue campaigners have been calling for. Picture: Ken Mears

In 1902, future Russian revolutionary Lenin moved publication of the communist newspaper Iskra to 37a Clerkenwell Green, which is home to the Marx Memorial Library.

The town hall now wants to improve the area and make it more pleasant for the 16,000 pedestrians who use it every weekday. Environment boss Cllr Claudia Webbe said: “We plan to provide a safe and attractive walking route through the green for people travelling on foot.”

Drop in consultation sessions take place at St James’ Church in Clerkenwell Close on October 3, from 5pm to 8pm, on October 7, from 11am to 2pm and on October 10, from 3pm to 6pm.

For information on how to give feedback, click here. The deadline to respond is 5pm on October 30.

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