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


Mary Barbour, rent strike activist and Glasgow City Councillor, 1920s

image from Red Clydeside collection

In 1915 Mary Barbour was actively involved in the Glasgow rent strikes, organising tenant committees and organising local women to drive out sheriff's officers and resist evictions.

In 1920 she was elected to Glasgow Town Council as their first Labour woman councillor, representing Govan Fairfield ward. She campaigned on and supported numerous issues including the introduction of municipal banks, wash-houses, laundries and baths; a pure milk supply free to schoolchildren, child welfare centres and play areas, home helps, and pensions for mothers.

As a supporter of birth control for married women, Mary pioneered the city's first family planning centre, the Women's Welfare and Advisory Clinic in 1925. After retiring from council work in 1931, she continued her activities on a range of housing, welfare and co-operative committees, and was later instrumental in setting up organised seaside outings for the children of poor families in Glasgow.

Source: Gallacher Memorial Library, Glasgow Caledonian University Special Collections and Archives