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Radicals News 2017

Radicals News 2017

All the latest news on the PHM Radicals campaign

December 2017 - Emmeline Pankhurst and Her WSPU Banner

As we look Emmeline Pankhurstforward to 2018, a year marking the centenary since the passing of the Representation of the People Act 1918, we are reminded that the struggle for suffrage whether for males or females has been a long fought battle between the establishment and the masses.  The Representation of the People Act 1918 afforded all men over the age of 21 the vote, and some women over the age of 30 who were limited by a number of class confining criteria such as being property owners.  Despite the limitations, the Act was a momentous moment, suddenly enfranchising a further five million men and eight million women for the first time in British history.

Back in August, we launched our Bring Manchester’s Suffragette Banner Home Crowdfunder campaign. The campaign was ultimately successful and saw the museum achieve £710 over our £5,000 target.  Our supporters’ generosity allowed us to purchase the rare suffragette banner, and will help towards its conservation and preparation for display in our Represent! exhibition in June 2018.  From the famous suffragette members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), such as Emily Wilding Davison who was killed after being struck by King George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby, to John Stuart Mill who was the first MP to openly call for women’s suffrage to be legalised, Represent! will look to commemorate and tell the stories of those who bravely fought to gain suffrage for both men and women.  The exhibition will draw inspiration and parallels from such historical figures and events when considering issues of representation and equality that prevail in today’s society.

WSPU banner, 1903The banner, featuring the name of one of the museum’s Radical Heroes and WSPU founder, Emmeline Pankhurst, was a coveted find.  Having been unearthed from a Leeds charity shop cupboard – where it spent the last ten years hidden away – the Manchester suffragette banner has finally made its way into the public eye.  Its journey to Leeds began in the 1930s when its then owner, Edna White, moved to the city, and after her death it was donated to the charity shop.  Leading with the words ‘First in the Fight’ under the headline of ‘Manchester’, the banner represents a truly unique piece of Mancunian history.

The People’s History Museum houses one of the largest collections of trade union and political banners in the world.  The Manchester suffragette banner will serve as a reminder for generations to come of how voting, something most of us take for granted, was not afforded to us through the generosity of the establishment but fought for, often with blood sweat and tears.

If you would like to sponsor one of our many Radical Heroes – or nominate your own – please do get in touch with the team on or phone the museum on 0161 838 9190.

Written by Kevin Coyne, Fundraiser & Project Assistant

March 2017 - Ian McKellen is a Radical Hero

LGBT+ Radical Hero has been snapped up

Ian McKellen, Never Going Underground exhibition Private View @ People's History Museum © Chris PayneAfter opening our new exhibition Never Going Underground and sharing the stories of his gay rights activism, we are pleased to announce that the radical Sir Ian McKellen has been sponsored as one of the museum’s Radical Heroes.  Ian McKellen has been celebrated for lobbying and protesting against Section 28 and continuing with his fight for social and legal equity for gay people.

Never Going Underground is a ground-breaking exhibition that explores the movement and stories of diverse LGBT+ communities and their quest for equality, and which marks 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts in England and Wales (1967 Sexual Offences Act).

Ian McKellen said at the opening: ‘We should all accept the simple fact that we should love each other.  Radical non-conformist passion defines this city and it’s wonderful that the People’s History Museum should be telling this story.  I hope this exhibition can go across the country so that this story can be told, and then it should travel the world.’

If you wanted to sponsor Sir Ian McKellen but missed your chance, here are some other LGBT+ radicals and campaigns who are just as worthy:

  • LEO ABSE - Labour politician and gay rights activist, who firmly pushed for the decriminalisation of homosexual relations.
  • EVA GORE BOOTH - Poet, dramatist, suffragist and fighter for sexual equality.  One of our Wonder Women.  She, along with Esther Roper and Irene Clyde, founded the journal Urania.
  • CAMPAIGN FOR HOMOSEXUAL EQUALITY - Founded in 1964 in Manchester as North Western Committee for Homosexual Law Reform.  Played key part in campaigns leading up to decriminalisation of male homosexual activities in 1967.  Today it aims to fight for equality, eradicate prejudice and improve LGBT+ sex education.
  • ESTHER ROPER - First female graduate of Owens College Manchester.  Pacifist, suffragist and campaigner for sexual equality.  Another one of our Wonder Women.  Herself, Eva Gore Booth and Irene Clyde, founded the journal Urania.
  • PETER TATCHELL - Human rights campaigner, best known for his work with LGBT+ social movements.
  • ALAN TURING – Mathematician who helped crack German Enigma and saved so many lives during World War II.  Persecuted for being gay and later committed suicide.  He was pardoned in 2009 and the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised for his treatment, calling it appalling.

If you would like to sponsor one of our many Radical Heroes – or nominate your own – please do get in touch with the team on

Written by Grace Parr, Volunteer

February 2017 – Make Piech a Radical Hero!

Thomas Paine © Paul Peter PiechSince the exhibition Dedicated to All Human Freedoms. The Art of Paul Peter Piech opened in October, the response to the incredible work of Paul Peter Piech, graphic artist and radical printmaker has been overwhelming.  Born in New York in 1920, Piech was stationed in the UK during World War II, and subsequently remained there for the rest of his life.  Piech’s influences were many, not least politics and equality, through to jazz and poetry.

His printmaking was both infused with the desire to reflect the world back on itself, and to demonstrate the power of passion and art.  The People’s History Museum would like to make Piech one of our Radical Heroes, and we need your help.

Please pledge whatever you can and support the People’s History Museum.  We tell the story of how radical people and their ‘ideas worth fighting for’ have brought about changes in our lives over the past 200 years; without the museum, these stories would be lost.

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