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


Kirkwood and Gallacher arrested during 'Bloody Friday', 31 Jan 1919

Kirkwood under arrest with Gallacher in background

image from Red Clydeside collection

Davie Kirwood was born in Parkhead in the East End of Glasgow in 1873 and worked in Beardmores steel forge, also located in Parkhead, from the age of 14 until his election, aged 49, as Independent Labour Party MP for Dumbartonshire in 1922.

Kirkwood was converted to socialism whilst still an apprentice at Beardmores and became active within the AUE, helping to organise a number of engineering disputes in the Clydeside area before becoming chief shop steward at Beardmores and helping to establish the CWC in 1914. Kirkwood also became involved in Labour politics in Glasgow, joining the ILP around 1909 where he worked closely with John Wheatley, James Maxton and Emmanuel Shinwell.

As one of the leaders of the CWC, Kirkwood was involved in organising resistance to the Munitions Act during 1915/16, for which he was arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act and deported to Edinburgh for the duration of the war in 1916. Kirkwood was also arrested during the demonstrations on 'Bloody Friday' and this time charged with incitement to riot. However, based on photograph evidence taken by a London based paper, which showed Kirkwood lying prostrate after being struck by a policeman's truncheon, Kirkwood was found not guilty of this charge. His co-accused Emmanuel Shinwell and Willie Gallacher were not so lucky, they received custodial sentences of 6 months and 1 year respectively.

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