Search

Suffragettes100: Sylvia Pankhurst scandalised the neighbours

PUBLISHED: 15:00 04 February 2018

Prominent Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst lived in Woodford Green for 30 years. Picture: Eastside Community Heritage

Prominent Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst lived in Woodford Green for 30 years. Picture: Eastside Community Heritage

Archant

A hundred years ago the first women won the vote, thanks to the fight and sacrifice of the suffragettes.

Sylvia Pankhurst leads marchers outside the House of Commons during protests against any proposal to return Eritrea and Somaliland to Italy.  Picture: PASylvia Pankhurst leads marchers outside the House of Commons during protests against any proposal to return Eritrea and Somaliland to Italy. Picture: PA

One of them, Sylvia Pankhurst, lived in Woodford Green for 30 years.

There is a blue plaque near her old home and a green opposite Woodford Tube station named after her.

Her mother, Emmeline Pankhurst, was one of the first suffragettes and in 1906, Sylvia started to work full-time for the Women’s Social and Political Union with her sister Christabel and their mother.

She founded the East London Federation of Suffragettes, which became the Women’s Suffrage Federation and then the Workers’ Socialist Federation.

In the 1920s, Woodford Green was still a rural Essex village – home to the gentry and well-heeled politicians, including future prime ministers.

But the arrival of Sylvia, with her anarchist Italian boyfriend, scandalised the area as they lived together without getting married, and had a son.

She broke away from the famous Women’s Social & Political Union to set up her own East London Federation of Suffragettes.

Originally run from Bow, Sylvia continued her work when she moved to Woodford Green in 1924.

With Silvio Corio, she went to live in Red Cottage at 126 High Road, opposite the Horse and Wells pub.

Her writing, campaigning with the suffragettes and work to improve working conditions continued unabated.

She invited everyone into her home, from refugees fleeing the fascists in Italy to political campaigners.

It became a centre of radical thought.

Three years after arriving in Woodford Green, their son Richard was born.

But despite the resentment from some neighbours, the couple seemed happy during their 30 years in Woodford Green.

While Sylvia wrote and travelled, Silvio served teas and refreshments at a café, and the couple started radical newspaper The New Times and Ethiopia News.

The fate of Ethiopia, which was being invaded by Mussolini’s fascist army, became one of Sylvia’s main campaign issues.

A stone war memorial she commissioned in reaction to his air attack on the country in 1932 is all that remains to mark where her cottage stood after it was pulled down for new houses in 1939.

In 1933, the couple moved to a much larger house called West Dene, in Charteris Road.

A blue plaque near their old home at Tamar Square flats commemorates her legacy and the small park opposite the station was renamed Pankhurst Green.

Silvio died in 1954 and Sylvia emigrated to Ethiopia at the invitation of Emperor Haile Selassie, where she died at the age of 78 in 1960.

Related articles

Latest Barking and Dagenham Stories

Yesterday, 18:00

The 22-year-old played for the under-23s on Monday night and wants to keep his match fitness up

Yesterday, 19:00

Sainsbury’s is trialling a summer holiday multi-sports camp in Barking where children can play and eat a healthy lunch, all for £7.50 a day.

Yesterday, 16:00

Dagenham & Redbridge manager Peter Taylor will hope to avoid a repeat of their past mistakes when they make the trip to Halifax Town this weekend.

Yesterday, 13:00

West Ham United return to the London Stadium for their first home game of the new Premier League term on Saturday when Bournemouth visit.

Yesterday, 12:00

A misconduct panel heard how James Durrance, a special constable with Essex Police, told Asda security and employees that he was an officer following the incident on June 9, 2016, and showed his warrant card.

After getting out on 49 last month and making double figures numerous times, the 21-year-old claimed his maiden fifty in T20 cricket last night

Yesterday, 11:00

Dagenham BC prospect to travel to Russia in October

Yesterday, 10:32

Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge has likened a Labour Party disciplinary investigation into her conduct to the persecution faced by Jews in Nazi Germany.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Barking and Dagenham is home to Better Extreme, London’s largest indoor skatepark. Whatever your discipline, be it skateboarding, inline, BMX or scootering, there’s a challenge waiting for you.

Barking Sporthouse has a wide range of fun things to do with your children this summer

The festive season is a hectic time for many, with frenzied dashes to the shops for groceries and gifts, and parties to arrange and attend.

Newsletter Sign Up

Barking and Dagenham Post twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Barking and Dagenham Post
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now