Irene Barclay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Irene Barclay (1894–1989), née Martin, daughter of a socialist and pacifist Congregationalist minister, was the first Woman in Britain to qualify as a chartered surveyor, following the passage of the Sex Disqualification Removal Act 1919. She was at the time working for the Crown Estate managing its working class housing estates near Regent's Park.

She had a general surveying practice but is best known for the work her firm did for the St Pancras House Improvements Society (later St Pancras Housing Association) of which she was secretary, started in Somers Town and later working elsewhere in North London.[1] Her pioneering social and housing surveys in the 1920s drew the attention of middle classes to the plight of slum dwellers including Somers Town, Pimlico, North Kensington and Edinburgh as described in her memoirs[2][3]

She played a leading role in the foundation of a number of housing associations in the 1920s and 1930s, including Kensington Housing Trust, Stepney Housing Trust, Isle of Dogs Housing Society and Bethnal Green Housing Society.

She was sister of Kingsley Martin, and married John Barfield Barclay (c 1897-1966), sometime staff member of the Peace Pledge Union and of International Help for Children. On retirement she went to live in Canada, where she died.


  1. ^ Roland Jeffery, Housing Happenings in Somers Town in Housing the Twentieth Century Nation,Twentieth Century Architecture No 9, 2008, ISBN 978-0-9556687-0-8
  2. ^ Irene Barclay, St Pancras Housing Association in Camden: What It Is and Why - A History, St Pancras HA, London 1972
  3. ^ People Need Roots, National Council of Social Service, London 1972