Maggie McIver left a true legacy in the city of Glasgow. She was known as the “Barras Queen”, founding the Barras Market and the Barrowland Ballroom.
Her first experience of business came by the age of 12, when she looked after a family friend’s fruit barrow in Parkhead. Following this she opened a fruit shop in Bridgeton, meeting her future husband and business partner James McIver at the fruit market.
Maggie and James grew their business with the idea to hire out carts, or “barras”, to local traders. Many of the barras were rented out to women, helping them to trade in a time when it was not so easy for women to succeed in business. They soon had over 300 “barras” on their land at Gallowgate.
Following the First World War, they bought more land in Calton and started the first Barras Market, selling everything from furniture to needles, a phenomenon that still persists today!
Maggie is said to have felt sorry for the traders trying to sell their goods in the unpredictable Scottish weather, and decided the market should have a roof. A building was erected and the “barras” converted to stalls, establishing the biggest market in Britain.
Her husband died of malaria aged 49, leaving Maggie to raise nine children and run a busy market. She had been organising functions for market traders for some year and thinking of ways to create more income, she opened the Barrowland Ballroom on Christmas Eve, 1934.