Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pankhurst memorial restored to original name

Ethiopian Reminiscences - Rita and Richard Pankhurst


Britain's first ever anti-war memorial has been restored and renamed to coincide with World Disarmament Day. 

The monument was commissioned by leading suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst and sculpted by Eric Benfield outside her 'Red Cottage' off the High Road, Woodford Green, in 1935. 

In an article published by Ms Pankhurst in 1936, she referred to the grade II listed monument as the 'Anti-Air War Memorial' but over the years had misleadingly become known as the 'Anti-Abyssinian War Memorial' - Abyssinia being the historical name for Ethiopia. 

In her later life, Ms Pankhurst left Woodford Green for good and migrated to Ethiopia on the invitation of her good friend Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. 

She died aged 78 in the country's capital Addis Ababa and was named an 'honorary Ethiopian' at her state funeral.

Now after 78 years, the memorial specifically intended to oppose air bombing, has been refurbished and officially renamed as the 'Anti-Air War Memorial'. 

The ceremony was attended by historian Katherine Connelly, peace campaigner Bruce Kent, former Ilford North MP Linda Perham and Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith at Highbeam House.
In 1939, the 'Red Cottage' was demolished and replaced by four houses. All that remained to mark where her cottage stood was her memorial.

By 2009, the homes were in danger of collapse so local developer Galliard Homes redeveloped the site with new apartments and the memorial remained as a proud feature.   

Susan Homewood of the Sylvia Pankhurst Trust said: "We are delighted that this important anti war memorial has been refurbished and turned into a prominent feature of the new development at Highbeam House. 

"Now the Sylvia Pankhurst Trust has applied to English Heritage to formally name the memorial the Anti Air War Memorial". 
http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/