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Rent strike

Burrell Collection Photo Library

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Rent strike

Partick Rent Strike, 1915.

During the First World War, thousands of people moved to Glasgow to work in the munitions factories. Rents rose as accommodation became scarce - in central Govan, for example, rents increased by 14-23 per cent - at a time when there was a steep rise in the cost of living. Those who could not pay the increases in rents (often pensioners or the wives and mothers of soldiers away at the front) were liable to be served with eviction notices by the house factors who managed property for Glasgow landlords.

The situation became critical in 1915, when organised groups of rent strikers across the city refused to pay increases imposed since the outbreak of war. Local tenants' groups co-ordinated resistance to Sheriff's officers sent to evict families who refused or could not afford to pay the increased rent.

The large crowd in the photograph had gathered at the entrance to a tenement at the top of Thornwood Avenue in Partick, which contained the home of a tenant threatened with eviction. The protestors intended to obstruct the Sheriff's officers by crowding into the close and forming a human barrier. Factors' clerks and Sheriff's officers were often driven off by hordes of women and children, blowing whistles and hurling abuse, peasemeal and flour bombs at the bowler-hatted officials.

Reference: 685.80.210

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums

Keywords:
babies, children, civil disobedience, demonstrations, evictions, Glasgow Rent Strike, political activists, protestors, protests, rent strikers, rent strikes, women



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