Flag which Advocated Women's Suffrage to go on Display in Manchester

May 30, 2023

A Banner used at an early suffragette rally alongside Emmeline Pankhurst, will go on display at Manchester’s People’s History Museum(PHM), from June 21.

The Manchester Women’s Social and Political Union banner (WSPU) of 1908, will be viewed 115 years after it was first unfurled to the public at the city’s Stevenson Square advocating voting rights for women, and held on June 20, 1908. 

The banner, which is known affectionately as the ‘Manchester suffragette banner’, was re-discovered five years ago, after which it became part of the museum’s collection.

This was made possible by hundreds of individuals who supported a crowdfunder campaign, which meant the banner could become central to how PHM marked the centenary of the first women achieving the vote in 2018. 

It will be on display until January 7, 2024 to mark the banner’s birthday and will then go into store before being part of the programme to mark the centenary of all women getting the vote in 2028.

The Manchester Suffragette Banner

Following research by Elizabeth Crawford, author of The Women’s Suffrage Movement (1998), the museum now knows more about Rachel Scott, the first secretary of the Women’s Social and Political Union, who was given the honour of unfurling the banner in 1908: 

Elizabeth’s research confirmed that the banner’s unfurler was Rachel Scott, nee Lovett who was was born in Chorlton, in 1863. She was one of nine children to Thomas Lovett and his wife Elizabeth. Her father was a labourer in the oil cloth industry and her older sisters became weavers or winders. 

Rachel became a teacher who married the son of a schoolmaster, David Scott. David worked for the engineering firm Royles for most of his life, eventually becoming a member of the board of directors. He was a strong supporter of socialist newspaper The Clarion and a member and supporter of the Independent Labour party (ILP).

It was through the ILP that Emmeline Pankhurst met Rachel, who was one of a small group of women she invited to join her at a gathering at her home in Nelson Street, Manchester, now the Pankhurst Centre, in October 1903. That historic move that would see the founding of the WSPU, who would become known as the Suffragettes. The meeting took place the day before the Women’s Sunday rally in London’s Hyde Park which was attended by 500,000 people from across the country.

Jenny Mabbott, head of collections and engagement at People’s History Museum, says, “The Manchester suffragette banner is a truly fascinating object. Finding out more about the role it has played in suffragette history is incredibly inspiring and we are very grateful to Elizabeth Crawford for the work that she has done, which significantly has taken us back to those that were instrumental in the founding of the WSPU. Museum visitors will also be able to undertake a self-guided Radical Women Trail, which is new for summer 2023 and includes the women of Peterloo, the Match Girls and suffragette Hannah Mitchell. There will be two versions available: Radical Women Trail and a family friendly Little Suffragette Trail for younger visitors."

Jenny Mabbott will be carrying out a series of radical women tours throughout the summer - and visitors can join her on Thursday June 22Thursday July 20 and Thursday September 21, where she will introduce the story of the suffragettes alongside that of other radical women who have also campaigned for equity, equality and a fairer world for all. The tours are bookable in advance, with all the details HERE.

The People's History Museum is open every day except Tuesdays from 10am to 5pm