Think of every famous singer or band you’ve seen at the dawn of their career at the Barrowland Ballroom. Think of every time you bagged a bargain at the markets. None of it would be possible without one woman.

At one of the entrances to Glasgow Green, there is a plaque along the ground which reads ‘Maggie McIver’s Gate’.

Glasgow Times:

Maggie McIver was known as the ‘Barras Queen’ as the founder of two of Glasgow’s most historic and famous sites and this gate is dedicated to her.

READ MORE: Glasgow history hotspot: The story of Tennent's Brewery

Born in Ayrshire in 1879, Maggie was an East End lass at heart and grew up in Bridgeton. For the working class in Glasgow at the time, trading was vital in earning a living.

The Bridgegate, or Briggait, soon became a hub for trading and people selling their wares from ‘barras’, large barrows or carts.   

Glasgow Times:

After looking after her friend’s fruit stall at the age of 12, Maggie later opened her own fruit shop where she would meet her husband, James McIver.

The married pair ran a successful business hiring out horses and carts to local tradespeople, who were known as ‘hawkers’, and after the First World War, they decided to create a space for trading to continue.

READ MORE: Glasgow history hotspot: The story of La Pasionaria

This became the Barras. Maggie could be renting out some 300 barrows at a time to local traders, mainly women, and in 1926, she ordered that the area be covered to protect traders and buyers from the typical Glasgow weather.

When Maggie’s husband died, she looked for new ways to keep an income, expand the business and provide for her nine children.

Glasgow Times:

She built a ballroom, which opened on Christmas Eve 1934. While Maggie wanted a place to host a Christmas meal and dance for her customers and their punters, the new venue also fit right in with the growing need for dance halls in the 1930s.

When she died in 1958, she had millions to her name, and the Barras Market and Barrowland Ballroom remain in her name.  

READ MORE: Glasgow history hotspot: The story of Barlinnie Prison

The ballroom has changed a bit since, as it was rebuilt in 1960 after a devastating fire and now its neon sign serves as a warm welcome to gig-goers.

The market, however, hasn’t changed much and remains a staple of the East End.