Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


David Kirkwood being detained by police in George Square during 'Bloody Friday', 31 Jan 1919

image from Red Clydeside collection

Photograph taken after the battle of George Square showing the arrest of Clyde Workers' Committee leaders David Kirkwood and William Gallagher. Kirkwood maintained that he was batoned to the ground by police when he attempted to intervene to quell the fighting between workers and the police in George Square. He was later cleared of all charges.

The actions of the police on 31 January 1919 in George Square in Glasgow are widely believed to have led to the riot that ensued between between striking workers and the police. Heavy-handed charges into a boisterous but well-behaved crowd and indiscriminate use of batons led to workers regrouping and charging the police. Following prolonged scuffles the Riot Act was read and this event became destined to go down in Glasgow political folklore as 'Bloody Friday'.

The photograph also gives an indication of the police attitude to the demonstration and their impressions of the strike leaders.