Eye Spy Glasgow: the Kelvingrove oak that celebrates the Suffragettes

When you look at all the statues and monuments and plaques that are dotted throughout Glasgow, what is missing?

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It's not difficult and it is true not just of Glasgow but of most cities and towns in the world.

The "great and the good" celebrated in stone are almost exclusively men.

In fact in Glasgow I can only think of three statues to women, La Pasionaria, which featured in this blog a few weeks ago; Queen Victoria in George Square; and Lady Isabella Elder in Govan.

There are plans to erect a statue to the activist Mary Barbour - and let's hope they come to fruition because the historical contribution of women to the city has been sorely neglected.

Which makes it all the more important that people should know more about this little plaque in Kelvin Way, beside Glasgow University.

The oak tree was planted 95 years ago to celebrate the success of the Suffragettes in achieving votes for women and is known as The Suffragette Oak.

The plaque explaining its significance was put there in 1995. It reads: "This oak tree was planted by Women's Suffrage Organisations in Glasgow on 20 April 1918 to commemorate the granting of votes to women. This plaque was placed here by the Women's Committee, Glasgow District Council, 8 March 1995."

It isn't the easiest marker to spot. It is on the left hand side going up the way, close to the junction with University Avenue.

Given Glasgow's rebellious history, it's not surprising the city had a strong suffragette movement. Activists left Glasgow and took part in "window-smashing" raids in London.

A minister's wife from Dennistoun, Dorothea Chalmers Smith, was imprisoned for house-breaking with intent to set fire in the city's Park Terrace.

Trade unionist Jessie Stephen led acid attacks on post boxes in Glasgow 100 years ago.

These women took drastic action to win what is now regarded as a fundamental right - to vote. Some lost their lives doing so.

It is right that the Suffragette Oak stands in their memory.


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