Relative pays tribute to Springhead suffragette Annie Kenney

ELEANOR Roberts has always been proud of Annie Kenney and her great-great-aunt’s place in history.

But recent events surrounding Annie’s life and deeds have resonated even more strongly with the London-based scientist.

So, it was an emotional Eleanor the Independent chatted to at last month’s launch of Carol Mitchell Talbot’s book Working-Class Suffragette, the Life of Annie Kenney.

“We have always known about Annie and Jessie (Kenney’s younger sister) and what they all did,” said her great-great-grand-niece.

“For us as a family, the idea of being  brought up with anything but equality just didn’t happen.

“So, this means a huge amount, what has been done for them.

“But Annie didn’t spring out of nowhere. She had this amazing family who supported and encouraged her and her siblings.

“Annie’s parents, (Nelson Horatio Kenney and Anne Wood) were solid socialists and trade unionists. 

“They went around and talked to people about how to get and to stand up for their rights.

“There were a lot of quite wealthy neighbourhoods because of the cotton trade but that didn’t get passed down to the people who worked there.”

Glenise Jones,Carol Talbot, great-great-grand-niece Eleanor Roberts and Amy Gavin from Springhead who played Annie in BBC ‘s How Women Won the Vote

Eleanor’s great-great-granddad was Reginald Kenney, Annie’s brother who gave away his sister at her wedding in April 1920.

Ten months later Annie and husband James Taylor had a son, Warwick Kenneth Taylor, who died in 2007.

Jessie, the lesser known Kenney sister, was 98 when she passed away in 1985. 

“Jessie wasn’t as prominent as Annie,” explained Eleanor. “But she worked a lot in the East End when she was younger and did a lot of organising.”

Jessie became secretary of the Women’s Social and Political Union and was jailed for assaulting Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and Home Secretary Herbert Gladstone. 

Eleanor attended Annie Kenney’s recent statue unveiling together with other descendants.

“I cried when I saw the maquette of the statue and I cried when I saw the pictures of it,” she said. 

Carol Talbot with her book

“And there were more tears when I saw the Christmas tree at Gallery Oldham decorated with suffragette colours.” 

Carol’s book includes pictures of Annie’s ashes being scattered by family members at a Saddleworth location.

“Annie was exhausted by her campaigning,” said Eleanor. “And even after getting the vote for women, she only got it for a few.

“It was wonderful but it was just the start. It was another decade before all women got the vote.” 

The launch included extracts of the book read by Carol while Springhead born Amy Gavin, who played Annie in the BBC’s How Women Won the Vote, also resurrected her role to the delight of the audience.

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