Birthplace of housing campaigner Mary Lily Walker celebrated by historic plaque

IMG_1763Victorian social reformer Mary Lily Walker, known for improving the lives and living conditions of her fellow Dundonians, was commemorated yesterday with a plaque at the home in which she was born.

Born in the 1860s, Mary was one of the first graduates of University College Dundee and one of the first women in Scotland to be taught in the same classroom as men, turning her attention to housing and the health of women in Dundee when graduating.

Known as a shy social reformer, Mary Lily Walker is also attributed with being a driving force behind the social work infrastructure of Dundee. The comprehensive and damning evidence she collected on the conditions of the poorer quarters of Dundee, looking at housing provision, sanitary conditions and how people survived, was attributed with improving the health of families across the city.

(from left) Lesley Brennan, Eddie Small and Lesley Nicoll alongside the plaque
(from left) Lesley Brennan, Eddie Small and Lesley Nicoll alongside the plaque

Unveiled by the University of Dundee and Historic Scotland, the memorial plaque is placed upon 152 Perth Road, opposite Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, which was one of many homes Mary Lily Walker lived in throughout her life in Dundee.

The event was attended by Lesley Nicoll from campus services at the University, English Tutor Eddie Small and Dundee City Councillor, Lesley Brennan.

Eddie Small, author of ‘Mary Lily Walker: Forgotten Visionary of Dundee’, said: “Mary Lily Walker is an unsung heroine, she shunned approbation and there is only one known photograph of her.

“Yet as one of our alumna of the University of Dundee, Mary deserves our respect. Some might argue that, given the social and gender constraints of the time she lived in, she did more directly for the welfare of Dundee’s neediest than any other person.”

Pictures courtesy of the University of Dundee.

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