Labour Research July 2012


When the Clyde ran red

Maggie Craig, Mainstream Publishing, 272 pages, hardback, £12.99

This book spotlights Glasgow in the first half of the 20th century, giving a warm, detailed account of the Red Clydeside movement.

It looks at history on the Clyde right through the 1926 General Strike, the hungry 1930s, the Second World War and the Clydebank Blitz, and even touches on the 1970s Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ occupation in the final chapter.

It tells the story of working class fighters who were not just leaders in their workplaces, but closely tied to the suffragette movement, the drive for working class women to access birth control and who played a part in the Spanish Civil War.

The book gives a particularly refreshing focus on the struggles of women, both in workplaces and in the community. Even the Glasgow tea rooms did not escape the Red Clydesiders — in 1920, a month-long strike by Kerr’s Café waitresses challenged long hours and bullying management ploys.

From the spectacular 1911 strike at the Singer sewing machine plant to leading Red Clydesiders such as Helen Crawford, we are reminded of the central role women played throughout.

Interesting reading, with a wealth of facts and stories that explore working class history and the role of workers in shaping it.

Reviews contributed by the Bookmarks socialist bookshop. Order online at