Glasgow 1950-1975

Glasgow 1950-1975

Multistorey memories

In the post war decades, Glasgow was notorious as the most ‘slum-ridden’ city of Britain. To tackle its urban squalor, massive schemes of slum clearance, public housing and urban redesign were undertaken on an unparalleled scale. Hundreds of thousands of the city’s people were rehoused. This project tackles a much-needed long-term assessment of this mass relocation focusing on two case studies: the new town and the high-rise estate, against a background of 50 years of significant economic and social change characterised by the decline of heavy industry and subsequent urban regeneration and cultural renaissance.

Further information

Housing, everyday life and wellbeing over the long term in Glasgow c.1950–1975 is a Leverhulme funded project which employs a historical approach to explore the long-term impact of re-development and forced relocation in post-war Glasgow.

After the Second World War, modern homes in high rises and new towns were identified as the solution to inner city overcrowding, an approach championed on behalf of the working classes by architects, planners, and local officials. Glasgow was nationally influential in its approach, which channelled this modernist impulse into homes, designed and built with a modern aesthetic and with the use of new building materials and techniques. More than fifty years on from the inception of Glasgow's housing revolution there are lessons to be learned from this massive public housing experiment.

Source: ©Nick Hedges (as featured in 'Gorbals' by Ruth Hedges)

 

Source: Reference: Post-war housing no.2, A/30/F/6, Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning. As featured on Lost Glasgow facebook page

Research on the success or failure of social housing and relocation has generally tended to focus on short-term impacts. Very soon after the slum clearance and rebuilding programmes of the 1950s and 1960s, the criticism was made, and has stuck thereafter, that the main impact of such developments was to cause the ‘destruction of communities’ and ‘social displacement'. Despite a lack of research on the ongoing effects since, this has proved a very influential narrative, so much so that present-day urban restructuring has been said to have parallels with the earlier epoch, with policy-makers and planners having failed to learn the lessons from the past.

This project will employ a historical approach in revisiting this period of post-war redevelopment and will ask to what degree it succeeded or failed, for whom, and in what context, over the longer term. Ultimately, understanding what has happened to people in social housing across the lifecycle, and over several decades, can provide important lessons for the conduct and prospective impacts of restructuring programmes today.


'Multi-storey Memories' - Oral Histories

One of the aims of this project is to tell the story of what life was really like for those who lived in high rise flats in Glasgow in the post war years and especially the 1960s and 1970s.

Many people have written about why the flats were built or their architectural merits but very few have told the story of the people who lived in them. The exception being Pearl Jephcott, a sociologist based at the University of Glasgow, who completed a survey of life in high rise flats between 1967 and 1969. Jephcott's researchers were sent out to high blocks across Glasgow armed with a questionnaire to find out tenant's views on a range of subjects.

Do you have 'multistorey memories'?

We want to hear about your life, why you moved into a high flat, what it was like to live there, what you enjoyed, what you disliked and anything else you want to tell us.

There are many stories about living in high rise flats—we want yours!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or comments.

You can email us directly at multistoreymemories@gmail.com

Alternatively you can follow the link and complete our short questionnaire

Case Studies

Case Studies

Homes in High Flats Case Studies

In Pearl Jephcott's original study Homes in High Flats, conducted between 1967 and 1969, a 5 per cent sample of families living in high flats were interviewed by market researchers and 1,066 questionnaires were completed. At this point there were 163 high rise blocks in Glasgow as illustrated in the map below.

Source: P. Jephcott and H. Robinson, Homes in High Flats, (Oliver & Boyd: Edinburgh), 1971, p. 20.

Alongside the questionnaire Jephcott chose to 'concentrate on a limited number of estates' as this would 'enable staff to make sustained relationships with individual households'. The five areas chosen, Castlemilk, Wyndford, Albion, Red Road and Royston, were thought to be 'not too 'untypical' of the estates as a whole'.

More about Jephcott's Case Studies

Source: P. Jephcott and H. Robinson, Homes in High Flats, (Oliver & Boyd: Edinburgh), 1971, front cover. Image © Miss D. Foy credited in the book as the artist

 

In Pearl Jephcott's original study Homes in High Flats, conducted between 1967 and 1969, a 5 per cent sample of families living in high flats were interviewed by market researchers and 1,066 questionnaires were completed. At this point there were 163 high rise blocks in Glasgow.

Alongside the questionnaire Jephcott chose to 'concentrate on a limited number of estates' as this would 'enable staff to make sustained relationships with individual households'. The five areas chosen, Castlemilk, Wyndford, Albion, Red Road and Royston, were thought to be 'not too 'untypical' of the estates as a whole'.

Mitchellhilll in Castlemilk, which comprised of five 19 storey multi-storey blocks was chosen as a result of its position on the edge of a large postwar council estate. Jephcott notes that 'The semi-rural setting was judged very favourable for the child living in a high flat (once he was old enough to go out by himself) and Castlemilk was selected for special study largely for this reason' (p. 28).

Wyndford was chosen as it was close to a busy shopping street (Maryhill Road). This estate, which consisted of 16 multistorey blocks over 8 storeys and also low-rise flats, was (and is) situated on the site of an old barracks and was surrounded by 'a high and handsome wall' which meant that it was 'visibly self contained'. Jephcott states that 'socially it is believed to be settling down rather well' and this along with the fact it was built and managed by the Scottish Special Housing Association (SSHA) were the main reasons for its selection for in-depth study (p. 28).

Albion, an estate which no longer exists, consisted of three 19 multi-storey blocks, it was near the docks and 'hemmed-in' by an arterial road, Ibrox football stadium and a greyhound track.

Red Road, which has become an iconic representation of high rise living in Glasgow, was chosen by Jephcott because although it was only two miles north-east of the city centre 'it was curiously cut off from the main stream of city life'. At the point of her study only two of the eight 'massive blocks' (around 31 storeys high) had been occupied but both 'were already showing signs of social problems since the lifts were proving most inadequate'. There was also 'a high proportion of child-users'. The high proportion of children in these blocks were of interest to Jephcott (p. 30).

Finally, Royston was selected as one of Glasgow's 'earliest ventures in high flats'. The three 20 storey blocks had been completed in 1961 and Jephcott thought 'the novelty of this new type of home should have long worn off' which 'might make it a useful contrast to the city's high flats in general' (p. 30).


Multi-storey Memories Case Studies

We too have decided to focus on particular areas as case studies. We have chosen four areas in our project: Castlemilk, Wyndford, Hutchesontown and Moss Heights.

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