Campaign for statue to honour 'forgotten' Suffragette Mary Clarke

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Malcolm Shaw

A campaign is underway to erect a statue in Brighton of one of the most important figures in the fight for women's right to vote.

Mary Clarke was the first Suffragette to die for the cause after she was beaten, imprisoned and force-fed. 

The city is where she carried out much of her fearless campaigning.

While her sister Emmeline Pankhurst became a household name, Mary Clark was almost lost to history.

Mary was among 300 women injured in a demonstration outside Parliament that became known as Black Friday. 

After being confined to bed in Brighton for three days, Mary returned to London to take part in another protest - which was to be her last.

Jean Calder, Mary Clarke Statue Appeal said: "Mary went to prison for a month, went on hunger strike and was forcibly fed, came out two days before Christmas and died on Christmas Day 1910 of a brain hemorrhage.

"Certainly Emmeline Pankhurst and the other senior Suffragettes believed that it was due to the injuries sustained at Black Friday."

Sculptor Denise Dutton has already produced a small model of the statue, with £15,000 raised so far of the £50,000 needed.

A small model of the statue has already been created Credit: ITV News Meridian

The city council is among many backing the plan.

Cllr Alan Robins, Mayor of Brighton & Hove said: "It would be lovely to have the statue to recognise the achievements of a woman who is now largely forgotten.

"But also it would be great to stimulate debate amongst school children and younger adults.

"If you see a statue you start to question 'who is that?' and 'why are they there?'"

Mary Clarke was a brave and determined campaigner for the Women's Social and Political Union in Brighton, speaking at the Dome and tirelessly selling the newspaper Votes for Women.

It is hoped her statue will cast new light on her life, and untimely death.