2 Dec 2015

Cairn for Peoples Champion

Mary Barbour must have been a remarkable woman. Not only was she one of the first women councillors in Glasgow (and Scotland), but she helped to organise the 1915 rent strikes in Glasgow. The successful rent strike campaign was against unscrupulous landlords who hiked the rents while men were away fighting in World War One, and then tried to evict the women and children if the family couldn’t pay. So Mary Barbour was a central, and until now almost forgotten, figure in the history of what came to be known as “Red Clydeside”. But Mary was not just a figure in Glasgow’s history. She belongs to us here in Renfrewshire. She was born in Kilbarchan in 1875, the daughter of a carpet weaver. She also lived for a time in Elderslie. So I was delighted when my councillor colleagues Derek Bibby and Chris Gilmour decided to back a campaign for a memorial in Kilbarchan. The memorial is a beautiful cairn in New Street, and I know Provost Anne Hall was proud to unveil this fitting tribute to a woman who was a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights and justice for ordinary people. It was good to see so many local people, who were joined by members of Mary Barbour’s family. Had it not been for the likes of Mary Barbour, born a Habbie, we would not have so many of the things we take for granted today.