Remember Mary Barbour is a campaign to create a lasting memorial to one of Glasgow’s greatest heroes. Mary (1875-1938) was a Scottish political activist who is particularly remembered for her role leading the Rent Strikes of 1915. Unscrupulous landlords thought they could take of advantage of thousands of workers flocking to Glasgow to jobs in the shipyards and munitions factories during WW1. Also, as many men were away fighting or in German prisoner of war camps, the landlords thought the women would be a soft touch. Step in Mrs Barbour and her Army! Read more on the campaign’s page but, suffice it to say, the landlords didn’t get away with it and Parliament passed the Rent Restriction Act, the first of its kind in Europe, setting rents for the duration of the war and for six months afterwards at pre-war levels.
It would be wonderful to have a statue of Mary in Govan, her home, in time for the centenary of the Rent Strikes next year. The campaign has so far raised enough money to commission maquettes (small-scale models) of five shortlisted designs. These were on display at the People’s Palace yesterday, and I went to have a look. Hover over the gallery to see the captions with the names of the sculptors.
Opinions were being collected – which would you have favoured? I like the one of Mary vigorously brandishing a placard, or the one with her hand in the air and her army following behind. They both have a sense of movement and determination. However, any of them would be an asset to a city which, as yet, has only three statues of women.
If you’re in Glasgow, or have Glasgow connections, keep an eye on the campaign’s website for news of more viewings. There is also a page on JustGiving if you wish to donate.