Model of Glasgow building reveals suffragette's 1909 rooftop hiding place

A model exploring a suffragette's rooftop protest in 1909 has been acquired by the library where it happened.

American activist Alice Paul, then aged 24, climbed on to the roof of St Andrew's Halls in Glasgow, whose facade is now part of the Mitchell Library, and hid overnight.

She planned to break in disrupt a political speech by leader of the House of Lords Lord Crewe, but was discovered before she could do so.

American writer Rebecca Otto commissioned Glasgow model maker Franki Finch of Finch & Fouracre to make models of St Andrew's Halls and the Mitchell Library as it looked inside its construction site by mid-1909, to help visualise Ms Paul's movements on the night.

The Alice Paul model which has been donated to The Mitchell Library in Glasgow. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)


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She also asked Ms Finch to make a second replica model, which has now been donated to Glasgow Museums collections.

Susan Taylor, special collections librarian with Glasgow Life, said: "It's amazing she didn't fall.

"The builders who were working on the Mitchell Library saw her, but when she explained what she was doing they let her carry on. It was only when another worker arrived that the police were contacted.”

Ms Paul was instrumental in the US suffrage movement, helping to secure American women the right to vote in 1920.


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Susan Taylor, Rebecca Otto (on screen) and Franki Finch presenting model to the Mitchell Library (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Although her attempt was thwarted, her rooftop vigil made headlines and she and others were successful in causing a major disturbance that day in 1909.

St Andrew's Halls was a large concert auditorium seating 4,500 people built in 1877 which was almost destroyed by fire in 1962.

The Mitchell Library was built on the eastern half of the block between 1907 and 1911.


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After the 1962 fire, only the facade to Granville Street remained, and the Mitchell was extended to occupy the whole block, incorporating the remaining facade.

Ms Finch produced a 1:375 scale model of both buildings, which can be lifted to reveal their ground floor plans from 1909.

It reveals the location of the Great Hall inside St Andrew's Halls and its proximity to Ms Paul's likely hiding place on the roof.

She said: "This was a really fascinating project to work on.


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Ms Otto added: "I wanted to know Alice inside a construction site, the night she discovered the trailblazer she'd become."


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