Sylvia Pankhurst statue campaign hots up

An event last month at the Gunmaker’s Pub in Eyre Street Hill took place to herald the siting of Sylvia Pankhurst’s statue on Clerkenwell Green. 

By EC1 Echo

The steering group for the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee at the Gunmaker’s
The steering group for the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee at the Gunmaker’s

The pub was chosen as it was once the Italian social club Dondi’s, and the date was the exact centenary of Pankhurst’s speech against fascism there – now thought to be the first publicly advertised anti-fascist meeting in the UK. It included a rousing recital of Pankhurst’s historic speech by actor Emma Beattie, seen in many shows from Ladhood to Bridgerton. 

As speaker Megan Dobney of the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee said: “Finally the campaign is bearing fruit and the statue will be erected. 

“Sylvia Pankhurst was here exactly 100 years ago on 25 March and at the same time in the afternoon to protest against the fascist reaction in Italy. It’s almost a kind of reunion today. 

“Clerkenwell Green will shortly be refurbished and pedestrianised. In 2017, the installation of Sylvia’s statue became an intrinsic part of this refurbishment, with support from all the stakeholder groups.” 

Also speaking was Alfio Bernabei, a writer and historian of the Italian community in the UK, who said that Sylvia Pankhurst had a strong relationship with ‘Little Italy’, as part of Clerkenwell was then known. “She met Italian refugee Silvio Corio in around 1917 who became herlifelongpartner,” he said. 

As Dobney said, “She had a strong connection with Little Italy and it is absolutely appropriate that her statue should be erected at the place close to her heart.” 

Islington Council supports the statue, although there remain arguments about where it should precisely be placed. A timeline is expected soon, says Dobney, who hopes that the sculpture will be a rallying point: “The statue will tell people to be alert, remain alert and remain vigilant.”

"This article is from the April/May 2023 edition of EC1 Echo. Click here to download your copy.

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