Irthlingborough man to attend unveiling of statue for his suffragette great-grandmother

Alice Hawkins
Alice Hawkins

The great-grandson of the shoe factory machinist who fought for women’s right to vote will soon see a statue unveiled in her memory.

The 7ft statue of Alice Hawkins – who led the women’s suffrage movement in Leicester in the early 1900s – will be unveiled on February 4.

But while Alice was from Leicester, her story is well-known in East Northants where her great-grandson Peter Barratt lives.

Peter from Irthlingborough has been co-leading a five-year fundraising campaign to have a statue of Alice placed in the Leicester market place and this dream will soon be realised.

Created by sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn and funded by local businessman Jamie Lewis, the statue will stand on a 4ft plinth overlooking the new market square, close to where Alice would have addressed the crowds at the height of the suffragette movement.

It will be unveiled as part of an afternoon of events marking the start of a year-long celebration commemorating the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 – the act that gave all men, and some women, the right to vote.

Deputy city mayor and heritage champion Cllr Adam Clarke said: “Alice Hawkins’ contribution to reforming the electoral system in this country is finally going to be recognised in the city she called home.

“This statue will honour her memory and the shared achievements of the suffrage movement.

“It will stand as a reminder to us all that society’s inequalities can be defeated and that gender should not be a barrier to anything.”

A nationwide programme of events marking the centenary of the first British women getting the vote will be taking place this year, with seven cities receiving a share of the Government’s £1.2 million Centenary Cities fund.

As part of this, Leicester is receiving a grant of £189,500 for a series of educational and celebratory events inspired by the life and work of Alice Hawkins.

Alice was first arrested along with 28 women outside the House of Commons in February, 1907, and spent 14 days in jail.

She went to prison another four times between then and the outbreak of the First World War.

The second time she was arrested she was jailed for throwing a brick through the last remaining window at the Home Office in full view of a police officer.

She campaigned in London and Leicester, visited Kettering, Thrapston, Raunds and Rushden and helped form the women’s shoe trade union.

In recent years Mr Barratt has given talks about his great-grandmother to many local groups and schools.

The statue of Alice will be the first of three statues of inspirational women to be unveiled in the UK this year to mark the centenary.

Millicent Fawcett – founder of the National Union of Suffrage Societies – will be commemorated with a statue in London’s Parliament Square, while a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst – leader of the suffragette movement – will be unveiled in Manchester.

The statue of Alice Hawkins will be unveiled in Leicester’s new market square at a public event starting at 2pm on February 4.