Margaret McCoubrey (1880 - 1956):
Margaret Mearns was born in Eldersley (sometimes Elderslie), near Glasgow. At the age of twelve she began working for a men's outfitters shop in Glasgow, though she continued her education at night school. In 1896 she qualified as a junior shorthand typist, and three years later became secretary to the managing director of the first private telephone service in Scotland. She taught in the Skerries Business Training College, of which she became deputy headmistress at the age of twenty-four. She married John Taylor McCoubrey, an electrician, and settled in his native Belfast, in Candahar Street, Oremau Road in 1905. She joined the Suffragette Movement in 1910, and was an active militant.
At the outbreak of the First World War she joined the Peace Movement, and gave refuge to conscientious objectors. She became general secretary of the Co-Operative Guild, and from 1910 to 1916 was elected onto the board of management. During this period she sat on all the sub-committees in turn, and also taught economics and the history of the Co-Operative Society in the educational department. In the 1920s she took a one-year course in Economics at Manchester University. She contributed articles to many periodicals, including the Co-Op magazine, the Wheat Sheaf, and she had a weekly column in the Co-Op News. A history of the Co-Op movement by her was unfinished at the time of her death. She was an active member of the Independent Labour party, and in 1920 was elected Labour councillor for Dock ward. In 1933 she went to live in Carnlough, County Antrim, where she ran Drumalla House as a non-profit making base for members of the Belfast Girls Club Union to come on holiday. [Reminiscence by Elizabeth Hutchinson]
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