Mitchell Library Session


We took a trip to the archives at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, to try and unearth some more detailed info about the various people in Govan who made significant contributions to the community during the war effort.

It was super helpful as we got to look at some transactions from the Old Govan Club and discovered the true date the fair was revived. Also got some interesting photos of Govan and a poem about Water Row from that time period, and I found out some interesting info on The Pearce Institute (donated to the people of Govan by Lady Pearce,) and The South Govan Women’s Housing Association.

Revival of The Govan Fair

From Old Govan Club Transactions
From “Old Govan Club Transactions 1914 – 1921”

This page (below) from the Old Govan Club Transactions 1914 – 1921, relates to an article in the Govan Press in 1921 which was celebrating the anniversary of the revival of the Govan Fair in 1920. tumblr_nlibldSWmw1r0kgheo2_1280There was initially debate over which year The Govan Fair was in fact revived, but this is somewhat cleared up in Patrick Donnelly’s “Govan on The Clyde”. Donnelly states that “The tradition lapsed in 1881 to be revived in 1920 by The Old Govan Club (1914-71) which, apart from existing to recall the past and keep alive the spirit of Govan, also has a charitable aim.”

The Pearce Institute and Lady Pearce

"Govan and It's History" by Brian Thom McQuade
“Govan and It’s History” by Brian Thom McQuade

Pictured above is the Pearce Institute (though unfortunately misspelled in the book). According to Bill Spalding in “Old Govan” (Sternlake Publishing, 1999), the Institute was built (or rather, gifted to the public by Lady Pearce in memory of her husband,) in the early 1900’s as a community centre which provided various facilities including; men’s and women’s reading rooms and clubs, a library, a gymnasium, a retiring room and cooking and laundry departments. It is still in operation today, with much the same functions, albeit with a bit more modernised classes.

South Govan Women’s Housing Association

The SGWHA was formed in response to the landlord’s atrocious capitalisation on the heavily increased need for housing as a direct result of the huge demand for wartime goods and expansions in the workforce, as troves of people moved to Glasgow to labour for the war effort. Instead of attempting to accommodate the situation, the landlords instead decided to increase the rent for their existing tenants. Those who could not afford the increased rent had their goods repossessed, were taken to court and fined, or simply evicted from their homes.

The trade unions, the ILP and the women of Glasgow, all joined forces in protest to protect the people of the city. In Govan, the SGWHA spearheaded this effort and took on the landlords.  Notable members include Mary Barbour, Agnes Doulan and Jessie Stephens. (McQuade. “Govan and it’s History.” 2014)

Water Row Poem

From "Old Govan Club Transactions 1914 - 1921"
From “Old Govan Club Transactions 1914 – 1921”

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