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  • Writer's pictureEunice Taylor

Women shaping Scotland

# InternationalWomensDay #Womeninfluencers #womensday It is good to remember how much has changed in such a short space of time for women (the vote, control over contraception, education, ability to work in previously excluded industries) and celebrate the women who helped make that change. When researching my ancestors some women stick out due to the more unusual occupations they had for their time.

In 1854, Alexanderina Allan would not have had the opportunity (or money) to have any education after the age of 12. The child, of a widow who ran a lodging house to support her eight children, Alexandrina would have been working as soon as she left school at 12. Despite this difficult start she worked as a Milliner before the age of 20, as a Shopkeeper in her 20s (1881 Scotland Census) and as a Forewomen in a Jute factory in Greenock in her 30s (1891 Scotland Census). As a Forewoman she would have been in charge of women (who outnumbered the men in these factories) making sacks, sailcloth, ropes etc from Jute imported from Bangladesh. This work however would have been hard and lower paid than equivalent jobs done by men.

“Women outnumbered men three to one in the mills, an imbalance in the labour market that gained Dundee the nickname of ‘she town’. It created a unique and tough breed of women, born out of being the main providers for the family..

Two companies in Greenock processed Jute in the 1890s in Greenock - the Gourock Rope Works Company ( Bay Street, Port Glasgow) and the Greenock Sacking Company ( Lynedoch St, Greenock). Alexandrina Allan lived in West Stewart Street Greenock which was closer to the Greenock Sacking Company on Lynedoch Street - the most likely location of where she worked. Let celebrate these unique and tough breed of women #womencandomore

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