Dundee Trades Council have helped keep alive the memory of Caroline Eliza Derecourt Martyn by tidying up her grave in Balgay Cemetery and restoring the granite column memorial. This was originally paid for by subscriptions from the Dundee branch of the Independent Labour Party and the Dundee Textile Workers’ Union.
Carrie Martyn was born in Lincoln and was an early organiser of trade unions in the UK. Originally active in the Conservative Party, she became a radical when she lodged in Reading with her maternal aunt, Mrs Bailey, who held progressive views. After joining the Fabian Society, she devoted herself full-time to socialism after being forced to give up work due to ill-health.
She had many articles published and also toured as a lecturer. Large crowds turned up to hear her speak. In 1896, she was elected to the executive council of the Independent Labour Party and became the organisations trade union organiser for North Scotland. It was whilst she was organising female workers in Dundee that she contracted pneumonia and died at aged 29. Keir Hardie wrote that she was the leading socialist of the day.
There is an 1895 article – ‘Women in the World’ by Caroline E.D. Martyn at:-
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/mrc/studying/modules/noncurrent/feminisms/ Taken from ‘The Labour Prophet’, journal of the Labour Church, Martyn argues that “the real freedom of women” will be achieved by overcoming the wrongs “inflicted on them as a class rather than a sex.”
Many thanks to Mike Arnott, Dundee Trades Union Council secretary and chair of Dundee GMB local authority apex branch, for supplying the photographs for this article.