Llanelli Community Heritage Commemorate Emmeline Pankhurst

Catherine Thomas (left) and Nia Griffith

Unveiling of Blue Plaque for Emmeline Pankhurst


Llanelli Community Heritage timed the unveiling of the plaque commemorating Emmeline Pankhurst to coincide with a lecture organised by the Llanelli WEA on her life. The plaque is one of some 46 that the group has found sponsors for, commemorating the association of well-known men and women with Llanelli.

The plaque which commemorates Mrs Pankhurst’s visit to Llanelli in 1912 has been sponsored by Catherine Thomas, former AM for Llanelli. Explaining why she sponsored this plaque, Catherine said, “Emmeline Pankhurst has been one of my heroes since my mother, Audrey, taught me about the suffragette movement as a child. My interest continued at college when the focus of my dissertation was the suffragette movement in Llanelli and surrounding district.”

Continuing Catherine said, “I am absolutely delighted to support the wonderful work of Llanelli Community Heritage and sponsor the blue plaque commemorating Emmeline Pankhurst’s visit to Llanelli and the speech she gave at the Parish Hall on January 20th, 1912. She was a truly remarkable woman who worked tirelessly to secure women the right to vote and for this we will be forever in her debt.”

Catherine added, “Securing the right to vote improved the lives of women in my family who are also my heroes. Women such as my great grandmother, Elizabeth Ann, who at just 19 was a plate opener at Llanelli tinplate works and my grandmother, Myfanwy Eiluned, who as a young woman, along with her sister Megan, worked in the brickworks in Dafen. Finally, my mother, Audrey, a retired nurse, who continues to teach and inspire me every day.

The ceremony was introduced by John Wynne Hopkins, who currently chairs the Llanelli Community Heritage Group; he quoted from a press article of the time which told of the suffragette’s visit to Llanelli to address a public meeting in the Parish Hall on Saturday 20th January 1912, and said,

“On Mrs Pankhurst’s arrival at the Parish Hall, Llanelli, she was greeted with the sounds of a rattle and a toy trumpet. Although the audience at the meeting heckled and barracked the formidable lady, Mrs Pankhurst’s fine eloquence was more than a match for them.”

The plaque was then officially unveiled by Nia Griffith MP, Llanelli’s first female MP. Speaking just before the unveiling, Nia explained that

“ Emmeline Pankhurst’s determination to see women get the vote spanned her lifetime, from attending a meeting at the age of eight to her death aged 69 in 1928, the very year in which women finally achieved the right to vote from the age of 21, as men could do. As a young woman, her visits to the poorhouses, where she saw women and children suffering, made her all the more determined in her fight. She wanted votes for women, not just because it was right in itself to be fair to women, but because she felt certain that women having the vote would change the agenda of politics. That is reflected today: the increase in the number of women elected to public office has brought to the fore issues like childcare and violence against women. But with women still only making up 22% of MPs, we still have some way to go.”

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