Understanding Solidarity through the Glasgow Rent Strikes 1915

The 4 workshops accompanied the Rent Strike Exhibition view on line HERE:

The workshops are available as free PDF download, HERE:

Although Rents were an issue in Glasgow by 1913 when John Maclean and The British Socialist Party set up the Scottish Federation of Tenant’s Associations the Strikes did not start until May 1915.

Many peaceful activities were used to prevent evictions and drive out the Sheriff’s officers with constant meetings in an attempt to be one step ahead of them.

“All manner of communication was used to summon help, everything from drums, bells, trumpets and anything that could be used to create a warning sound to rally the supporters who were mainly women as the men were at work in the yards and factories at these times. They would then indulge in cramming into closes and stairs to prevent the entry of the Sheriff’s officers and so prevent them from carrying out their evictions. They also used little paper bags of flour, peasmeal and whiting as missiles directed at the bowler hatted officers.” Radical Glasgow website about the 1915 Rent Strike

Workshop 1 – Rent

Young people explored the theme through discussion of their own experiences at home of the following:


What is a home? What is Rent? What is a Tenant?

What is a Landlord? Who coexists in the Rent relationship? Who is powerful who is vulnerable? What is a Factor? What is a Notice of Ejection? What is Court? What is a Sherriff Officer?

Activity ; Papier mache 3D model of Factor Neilson, who owned many of the Linthouse and Partick properties. Details on PDF here

Discussion – How can tenants create Rent Resistance to stop being thrown out of their home?

 Workshop 2Fake ID

Often described through the roles and lives of key players evidence in Forward, 5.6. 1914-12.6.1915 indicates that tenants themselves were the first to start off Petitions and spread the word. [Melling,1983; 64] Therefore in teaching the Rent Strike History the role of unknown and often forgotten masses of people is crucial.

This workshop gave young people the opportunity to act out Fake ID’s taking on the daily routines of well known and unknown activists.(Fake ID cards on pdf.)


Using coloured wool they followed the routines of their Fake ID Character from Solidarity Sign, moving around and hooking up the wool strands at identified location zones created around the room. Some Fake Characters delivered milk or attended school or work, and others attended meetings or other social events. In this way they could build up a visible experience of a network as their lives interlinked the wool strands creating a community weave where trust, information, direct action could be passed on.

“Everyday established local networks were used by speakers to spread the word like the back court washhouse or the co-op meetings, the ‘vibrancy of women’s organising and strong lines of continuity over time and across different issues. ’ [J.J.Smyth].      Solidarity Sign on PDF

They met at Co-operative Movement shops, The Glasgow Women’s Housing Association, Independent Labour Party, the Scottish Co-Operative Women’s Guild, The Suffrage Campaign, the Peace movement and then between the main Unions of the munitions and armaments such as the Shipyards and the Engineering works.

Activity; Identified locations around the room, balls of wool different colours, Fake ID Cards                Location Pictures on PDF

These networks were woven in the workshop with strands of coloured wool to signify the growing tight solidarity between the individuals and families who travelled between them.

NB. The Fake ID Cards are fabricated, at times based on fact but fictional daily chores and lifestyles. Some biographical details are imaginary. Anyone who can work on this to be more precise please contact and I will update the cards online. S.R.

Workshop 3 – War and Government Munitions Factories

The Woodcraft Folk recreated rent strike actions, from eyewitness accounts. They made – a papier mache Factor, Window Campaign Posters, cast votes in their Union, and visited the key streets and districts by weaving the wool network. They recreated noises and actions used to stop delivery of the Eviction Notices.     Window Campaign Posters on PDF

Part 1-This workshop built upon the previous experience of building trust through a social network to look closer at the working lives of the Fake ID Characters.


WORK: Their roles in various War Industries – Shipyards, Engineering works, and so on made them powerful if they threatened to withdraw their labour. Young people were given Union Membership cards turning the individual into a much larger and powerful force. I am 200,000 people. An injury to one is an injury to all.    Union Cards on PDF

Part 2; Stop the Sheriff Officer– The helpful design of the Tenement Close was discussed and how history records that the families organised themselves against the issue of the Notice of Ejectment. Fake ID’s from previous workshops had allocated roles; Tenant, Union member, Lookout, Alarm Raiser, Secretary, Blockader, Demonstrator. In this Drama, the ZZZ3Landlord tries to increase the rent by using the law to serve a Notice of Ejectment to the Tenant- the other characters must organise themselves to prevent this being delivered.

Activity; Lookouts raise alarm – Pots, Pans, Rattles, Blockades arrive with prams to the close – Fill flour bags, Demonstrators block the entrances with prams, on occasions card carrying Union Workers down tools in thousands to support the action. Success is measured by the withdrawal of the court procedure on 17th November – called by Lloyd George, Defence Minister and the Act is later passed to Freeze all rents across Britain.




Workshop 4 Role Play

ZZZ2A This workshop consolidated all the experiences from the previous activities and the young people celebrated the Centenary of the Rent Strikes 1915. They re-enacted the strategies of eviction recorded in various accounts from the time using the Papier Mache Sheriff Officer to dramatise a case where tenants caused a “rammy” and pelted flour and peasmeal at him. The unions marched to the court hearings in solidarity of the temants.ZZZ1



Union Cards Print out

Fake ID Print outs

See Below—-

Union Membership Cards

NB,These are reproduction and not historically accurate card designs







   Industrial Workers UNION5

   Of The World , (IWW)

   Established in 1905





Clyde Workers Committee – Circumvented the inactivity of union leadership and acted in solidarity. Their Paper The Worker was shut down before issue 5 was printed.

If any one wishes to add more Anarchist info to this text or images, the we will try to add it in, Contact:   SR.

Fake ID card details available as PDF HERE:


Fake ID 1

Mary Barbour.






Fake ID 2

Helen Crawfurd

Helen C


Untitled 10


Fake ID 3

Agnes Dollan

Dolan Work    DolanDolan B

                                                                                                        Dolan details


Fake ID 4

Mary Murphy

M Murphy 2      Mary Murphy 4







Fake ID 5

Mary Clark

Mary C


Mary C 3



Fake ID6

Hughie McFlynne

Flynn 2




Fake ID7

John Gallagher

John G 2

John G







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