Clearing the land for utopia (mid-1960s)


From the late 1940s, plans were taking shape for widespread redevelopment in Glasgow, including schemes to move people from heavily-populated parts of the city with older housing. In the 1950s, twenty-nine areas of the city were identified ‘Comprehensive Development Areas’ (CDAs), areas which would see demolition and rebuilding on a huge scale, with high rise accommodation seen as part of the solution to what was considered a significant problem with housing in Glasgow. Sighthill was part of Springburn CDA, with the first phase of tower blocks at Sighthill being approved in 1963. In this image, the ground is being cleared prior to the construction of these flats. The first high rises at Sighthill were four twenty-storey blocks at Fountainwell Road, built by Crudens Ltd. Fountainwell had been the last piece of rural land remaining in this area, and had previously been a farm and piggery, the names of the high rises reflecting past uses of this land. Eventually Crudens built ten tower blocks at Sighthill between 1962 and 1966. When first constructed these flats were seen as a modern and radical new way of urban living: the future. As Chris Leslie notes in his book Disappearing Glasgow (2016), “by the mid-1980s it was labelled a ‘sink-estate’ with high levels of unemployment, crime and drug abuse. Local press and the city council described Sighthill as a ‘byword for deprivation’”. A lot can change in two decades.