PLANS are under way to create – within the next two years – a lasting memorial to one of Glasgow's most influential women.

Former MP Maria Fyffe wants a statue built to honour "working class heroine" Mary Barbour, who was the city's first female Labour councillor.

Mary, who lived in Govan in the early 1900s, campaigned against steep rent rises during the First World War, paving the way for a law, restricting the power of private landlords.

She also pushed for major welfare changes including free milk for schoolchildren, pensions for mothers, municipal banks, wash houses, laundries and public baths and pioneered the city's first family-planning clinic.

Despite her notable achievements, Maria says Mary has been overlooked in the city's historical legacy, with little official recognition.

Maria, 74, is chairing a committee group which is driving forward a plan for a memorial, either in Govan, or in the city's George Square.

Maria would also like Mary's part in Glasgow's history to be recognised in the school curriculum.

She said: "Mary was instrumental in the strike against rent rises.

"Around 20,000 people came out in support, yet her involvement is barely recognised.

"Once she became a councillor she campaigned for municipal banks, wash houses and free milk for children.

"She also pioneered the first family-planning clinic in Glasgow. Despite all of this, she doesn't appear in the history books."

Mary was born on February 22, 1875, in Kilbarchan, the third of seven children, and the son of a carpet weaver.

She married David Barbour in 1896 and the couple settled in Govan, going on to have two sons.

She first became politically active after joining and becoming an active member of the Kinning Park Co-operative Guild.

At the beginning of the First World War the landlords tried to implement steep rent increases.

At risk were 7000 pensioners and families whose men were fighting in France.

This brought about the formation of the Glasgow Women's Housing Association and many local housing associations to resist the increases.

Mary actively organised tenant committees and eviction resistance and the protesters became known as "Mrs Barbour's Army".

Maria said: "In those days housing was in the hands of private landlords. Most of the men were away fighting in the war. The landlords raised the rent because they thought they could get away with it."

The usual method of preventing eviction was to block the entrance to the tenement.

If the sheriff officers managed to get as far as the entrance, another tactic was to humiliate them – pulling down their trousers was a commonly used method.

The resistance spread to the whole of the Clydeside area and climaxed on November 17, 1915, with one of the biggest demonstrations in Glasgow's political history.

Around 20,000 people came out in support of the campaign.

Thousands of women and shipyard and engineering workers paraded through the streets of the city to Glasgow Sheriff Court where the demonstration reached near riot proportions.

Out of this defiant stand came Prime Minister Lloyd George's "Rent Restriction Act" which heralded a change in the housing system, benefiting tenants across the country.

Mary's involvement in the struggle had made her a working class heroine in Govan and much further afield.

In 1920 she stood as the Labour candidate for Fairfield ward in Govan, and was elected to Glasgow Town Council, becoming the city's first Labour woman councillor.

She was also Glasgow Corporation's first woman baillie, a position she held from 1924 until 1927, and helped set up the Women's Welfare and Advisory Clinic – Glasgow's first family-planning centre – in 1925.

Until her retirement from the council in 1931, Mary worked relentlessly on behalf of the working class of her constituency. She died in 1958 at the age of 83.

Maria, who was Labour MP for Maryhill until 2001, is putting together a plan to create a memorial to Mary and hopes the project could come to fruition in the next two years.

She said: "2015 will be the centenary of the rent strike. Some of us got together and thought, let's take this opportunity to create a permanent memorial.

"We are seeking advice from people involved in sculpture to see what is feasible."