Our Women’s History Detectives are always looking for ways of highlighting the lives and achievements of the women of Glasgow and therefore jumped on the chance of nominating women for a Commemorative Plaque earlier this year. The Historic Environment Scotland (HES) Commemorative Plaque Scheme celebrates significant people by erecting plaques on the buildings where they lived or worked, and this year HES were particularly keen to diversify the recipients (you can see the full list of recipients here).
The criteria for nominations are that the person must have been born over 100 years ago, have been dead for at least 20 years and be significantly associated with a surviving building (we also needed to seek the permission of the current owner, which did limit who we could nominate). Of the dozens of women the Detectives considered, only two met all the criteria: Maggie McIver and zoologist Sister Monica Taylor. While disappointed that Sister Monica has not been shortlisted for a Plaque, we’re absolutely delighted that Maggie McIver, a woman who contributed so much to Glasgow’s East End, is being remembered and celebrated in this way.
Maggie (Margaret) McIver’s tale is one of rags to riches. She was born in 1879 and worked as a barrow girl selling fish and fruit. After marriage, she and her husband began renting barrows to other hawkers. In 1920 they opened a market on the site of the present Barras, and by 1928 this was fully enclosed with static stalls. Maggie traditionally put on a Christmas dance and meal for her hawkers and, legend has it, found their usual venue booked one year so decided to build her own. The ballroom opened on Christmas Eve 1934, its famous sign dimmed only during WW2.
You can find out more about Maggie and some other industrious and resourceful East End women on our East End Women’s Heritage Walk which we are offering on Saturday 16th September as part of the Doors Open Festival. A audio tour can also be downloaded or you can pick up a map of the route with more information on your next visit to the library.