Ingestre St, Hereford HR4, UK
Irene Tuberville Barclay (May 27, 1894 - 1989), née Martin, was the first woman Chartered Surveyor in 1922
She was a noted campaigner for social housing.
Irene Barclay was born on 27 May 1894 in Ingestre Street, Hereford, the eldest child of (David) Basil Martin (1858–1940), a socialist and pacifist Congregationalist minister, and Alice Charlotte Turberville (1867–1934). She was the first Woman in Britain to qualify as a chartered surveyor, following the passage of the Sex Disqualification Removal Act 1919. She sat her final exams with the College of Estate Management ((now the University College of Estate Management) in 1922. Barclay was at the time of her qualification working for the Crown Estate as housing manager, managing its working class housing estates near Regent's Park.
Barclay established a professional partnership with Evelyn Perry, who qualified the year after her, which they ran until 1940. Irene continued to practise until 1972, marking 50 years in the profession. Although Barclay had a general surveying practice she 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. This was founded in Somers Town by the Anglican priest Basil Jellicoe and Barclay provided it with stability over her long tenure as its Secretary. The Association later worked elsewhere in North London. Her pioneering social and housing surveys in the 1920s drew the attention of the middle classes to the plight of slum dwellers including Somers Town, Pimlico, North Kensington and Edinburgh as described in her memoirs Barclay, who has been described as ‘Irene, the patron of the poor’,was awarded an OBE for her significant and valuable work as a social reformer. Barclay subsequently 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. Most of these were established on the basis of her surveys of property and housing conditions. Irene Barclay 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 Barclay went to live in Canada, where she died. She is commemorated in the Somers Town Mural in Camden.
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