Online Oral History Resource

Online Oral History Resource

All of the extracts which appear on this page are taken from oral history life narrative interviews which were conducted between 2015-2016 as part of the Leverhulme funded project 'Housing, Everyday Life and Wellbeing over the long term: Glasgow 1950-75'.

In each case the individual(s) named selected the extract that appears below. 

Paul – Queen Elizabeth Square, Hutchesontown (1966-1981)

Paul moved into Queen Elizabeth Square with his family in 1966 when he was only 9 months old. His parents had owned their flat in the Gorbals and his mother was persuaded to stay in the area and move in to the high flats by his maternal grandmother who was 'quite a modernist' rather than take the offer of a semi-detached house somewhere in 'the Shaws' in the south side of Glasgow. 

His family feature on the poster of his play 'Hell's Hunner Acres' about life in Queen Elizabeth Square in the Gorbals.

Image result for hells hunner acres

 

Below is an extract selected by Paul from his narrative for the project:

Corridors, interiors and decorating: Remembering Queen Elizabeth Square 

  

What’s your earliest memories of Queen Elizabeth Square when you think back?

P:  The corridor.  It was the craziest playtime.  You were just running amok. These corridors felt like a mile long and we just played with so many kids - but we never played with them outside.  That was the key to it, it felt very safe, doors were unlocked you were running in and out of houses - different houses - just very very safe and secure.  Funny, good, fun times.

There was you and your brother; there was your older two siblings then you so there was already the start of a big family then.  So there was all your siblings to play with and all their friends.

P:  When we moved into the flats there was the four of us, me being a twin, then a year later there was my younger sister Donna.  My mother gave birth to her in the flats and I can vividly remember that - I was just hitting 2 but I can remember that.

It’s a big event!

P:  A big event.  I just think commotion.  Of different neighbours and all that.

Coming and going?

P:  Yeah coming and going.  'Do you need more towels Rose'?  

What was the flat like, you were the sixth floor but that was essentially the twelfth?

P:  Yes cause it’s a double dunt.  So if I am coming from like the foyer, the lifts were on the right hand side which meant you came in the front door and immediately in front of you - you had the living room, directly to the left you had stairs down, a steep incline of stairs to your bedroom area, your bathroom and all that. On the opposite side it was a case of going upstairs.  So it was an upside down scenario.  So your immediate neighbours were your neighbours on your corridor but not your neighbours on your verandah space.

Ah so you always had two sets of neighbours?

P:  So it was quite a social dynamic, because you had your verandah space obviously and that would have introduced you.  I mean our neighbour who was three doors away was actually our verandah neighbour.  So quite an interesting design.  You would expect to be neighbours with your next door neighbour but that’s not how that happened.  It was the next one.  So they went to somebody else in the building.

In your floor were all the houses the same size?

P:  Yes.  

So they were all three apartments?

P:  First floor you had four apartments, second floor you had a mix of pensioner apartments (one type thing) then you had threes and some fours at the end.  Then after that it was three apartments right up to the top.  I can't remember there being anything bigger than that.  They were all the same.

What do you remember about the interior of the flat?   Like by the time you were grown up - by three or four - your mum and dad will have kitted the place out…

P:  I was always struck by the windows.  There's a lot of light and I remember thinking that the windows were dangerous and I think as a child that's quite attractive.

Your mum was forever trying to keep you and Gary away from them?

P:  Yeah.  They were big windows.  I do remember the whole tenement thing.  One of my best friends was still in a tenement at the time and it was just the darkness.  So there was that then these were light and very different.  It was different kind of ‘windae hinging’ as they would say.  It was an adventure just trying to get the windows open you know because they were modern and it was like how does that window work?  But you could literally open it and you were six blocks up - quite dangerous.

Your mum must have been quite scared having three boys in the house?

P:  I think she worried more about my sister actually!  Yeah so ..

That was the windows.  How did your mum, or maybe your dad as well, how did they have it decorated?  Did they bring it from the old place?

P:  Eh, no.  My mum oh my god my mother, I don't think I can remember one particular style that woman had.  

Really?

P:  She changed the look of that place every week.

Really?

P:  Yip.  She was always buying and spending a small fortune on a new ornament.  Eh yip.

She just liked it nice?

P: She was of the time. I do remember she had a wee penchant for Habitat you know working class shouldn't be shopping in Habitat at the time but yes she constantly was and she was very DIY about stuff always, week to week we would go in and the settee would be in a different area, she would build stuff.  Because the innards of the flats were quite flexible and open plan so you could effectively get away with doing that because the light was so good.

Yeah when you see the photographs it looks..

P:  Yeah, it’s that classic thing as well - a family always meets around the fireplace.  We met around a different fireplace four times a month because it had been moved.

Did you have it on the wall?

P:  Yeah we had it on the wall but because it was electric she would just move it.  We did have it on the window wall but she decided that wasn't a good look.

Was there a fireplace?

P:  No it was very plain.  Underfloor heating.  I remember a lot of the people who lived there did not have a carpet or a rug because it was so luxurious.  The linoleum on the floor was designed you know so it had pattern and a lot of people for a long time kept that.

Right

P:  It just made the place feel airy; you didn't have that carpet thing going on to densify it down.

Did you use your underfloor heating?

P:  Yeah.

Do you remember it being on?

P:  I remember it being such a warm warm house apart from the bedrooms.

Yes.  So what did your mum do about heating in the bedrooms, did she put heating in the bedrooms like wee plug in heaters?

P:  Eh no.  I remember she built a second door, the way our bedrooms were situated so in our bedroom we had the veranda door which was cold and because it’s as a through verandah it was howling wind all the time.  My mum constructed like secondary glazing was what she did and I suppose that made a difference.

She was pretty resourceful then!

P:  Oh she was very resourceful.

 

 

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John and Carol – Bogany, Castlemilk (1969-1975)


John and Carol met in 1965 and married in the same year. Both had grown up in Castlemilk in the 1950s. John's family had moved from Parkhead and Carol's from Possil. At first they had lived in a single end in Parkhead but Carol wanted to move back to Castlemilk to be near her mum. They were both only 21 when they moved into the Bogany flats in 1969. 

Source: Bogany flats, Castlemilk History facebook page

 

 Below is an extract selected by John and Carol from their narrative for the project:

Furnishing the flat and managing the money

 

How did you manage with the rent then? How did you manage then?

C : Well, a lot of the time I was in arears with the rent, you know, sort of, simply because we couldn’t manage it

J : A lot of people were

C : I mean most of the people up the flats were you know, the likes of in arears with the rent or late with their electricity etc, And then there was like, you know, we had a communal aerial which we had to pay and of course everybody didn’t pay their TV licence, so quite a few of us got caught, myself being one as well because it was like that was the least of your priorities. You knew you had to buy one, but if you had to buy food or that, that’s when you bought the food, you know. And, yes, it was really difficult; if you got into difficulties with paying electricity bills or anything, not rent, but you could go to the Social Work department and they would help you out a wee bit, but we all ….. we all struggled as young couples with debt; we all struggled because there wasn’t one person that ….. maybe the older ones. There was a couple of older ones with kind of older family, and they seemed to be …. But maybe they weren’t …. They seemed to be more kind of affluent, but any time, you know, that we used to, you know …. the  … go about the younger ones, it was quite, you know, we were all quite struggling. And one of the women, that’s another laugh, that … one of the women decided to run a menage(minog!) for a cash and carry that was down  ……….

J : That was very common

C : what was it, at Tradeston, it was like, it sold like lamps and everything like that, and so we used to save up, you know and give her our menage money every week and everybody in the flats must have had this set of lamps. A standard lamp, it was a table lamp and you know these tall ashtrays? It must have been all the same set. You could either get it in an orange colour or a yellow colour, but everybody had the same lamps (laughing) everything the same

I was going to say, how did you furnish the flat when you first moved in? But it was  through that, just by saving up?

C : You’d be really impressed (laughing)

J : Well, first of all, the main possession we had in our single end was a bed and I think that was a present, aye it was a present and we had a couple of old armchairs that I had  bought in a second hand store and painted and stuff. It was really spartan at the time, and some … when we moved up the flats it was a whole new life-style you know. We had all these empty rooms and a bed, so we had to actually save up for ….

C : An Orbit suite

J : An Orbit suite it was called, it was a three piece suite, and it was like the … getting on for the late 60’s by this time, so it was like space-age design you know, it was bucket chairs that swivelled round, and this … this couch that probably wouldn’t be allowed to be manufactured nowadays (laughter) certainly wouldn’t be fire retardant or anything

C : No.

J : So that was out first purchase

C : Oh and the horse, your rocking horse that we took the rocking … well when the wee one was finished with it,  we made it into a coffee table (laughing)

J : Aye, I made it into a coffee table.  I used to like doing things like that, we actually had a bar in the living room

C : Made it out of a wardrobe on its side, it was lovely

J : It never had any drink in it. All our relatives called it the pub with no beer!

C : But it did have the kids’ slippers in it, and their pyjamas and their dressing gowns and that.

J : It was just silly

C : But no, it was very well done wasn’t it? I should actually have taken a photo

J : You’ve got to remember that this was the days when people watched on TV The Man from Uncle and Kung Foo and all these programmes

C : And then we kind of grew out of the bar and you made, you started to make book cases, and you made, erm, what was it, the fireplace

J : The fire place, aye

C : The fire place, well, the fire place we bought and you made the stuff to go round it to hold the TV and everything, so you were quite handy at that

J : Aye and some of your aunties liked it

C : So they did and they got you make one

J : They got me make stuff for them, aye, units and stuff like that

C : And we worked as a great team because I had to go and help because I had to sort of go up on top of this thingummy, this bit of wood that John was sawing with a rotary blade right towards me, and I remember being terrified. So, we didn’t have much in the flat to begin with, and every …

J : There was a shop, Forrests was it?

C : No, Duncansons

J : Duncansons, it’s at the  … just off the

C : London Road in Gallowgate

J : London Road in Gallowgate, and it used to be a big furniture shop. And what you had was … you looked in the window, and each window had a different set-up and it had like a carpet and a bedroom suite, and it was an all-inclusive price tag, you know, whatever, it was £199 or whatever, would it have been as much as that in those days?

C : No, I don’t think so

J :  So Carol and I used to have our faces pressed up against this, like kids in a sweetie shop you know and we’d say “I want that one”, and we’d go in and you could pay this up, you know, so we had our room kitted out

C :  That was after we paid the suite off

J :  After we paid the suite off. And then we had the one room and then we managed to pay that out, we’d go back down and look in the window again and then get another lot

C :  The kids room

J :   And that suite would go into the kids’ room. And that’s how we did it

C :  And having tiled floors we didn’t need a carpet and John’s mum bought the kitchen table and chairs for us

J :  But that’s how we did things in those days you know.

 

 

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Tricia – Mitchellhill, Castlemilk (1966-1976)

Tricia moved with her family to the Mitchellhill flats in Castlemilk in 1966 when she was nine years old. Her parents owned their own flat in Govanhill and while her father was drawn to the 'modernity' of the high rise flats for her mother the move was about being closer to family in Castlemilk. 

Source: Mitchellhill flats (late 1970s), Castlemilk History facebook page © Jim Richardson

 

Below is an extract selected by Tricia from her narrative for the project as well as her own memoirs of living in high rise in Castlemilk:


'Movin up in the world': Soda Stream in the sun on the verandah

 

T: So they bought that flat and moving tae Castlemilk, it wisnae a case ae we were cleared oot the slums or anything.  Em, they sold the flat and chose to go there because they hid been, mah gran wis there, mah mum’s sister wis there and ah think they thought that this wis gonnae be a brilliant place to be.  Mah dad had worked in the Bluevale Street flats in constructions so ah think he-

Did he?

T: Yip.  And he was keen about flats.  And so when we went there, and a lot o’ people hid said tae us you know, they’re no safe, and what you doin goin up there but for theym ah think they thought it was great.  You know, they never for a minute thought that it wis gonnae be the way it wis fifteen years later.  They thought they were moving up in the world doin that an’ you know how they moved from the centre of the city, they moved fae the Gorbals up tae Govanhill an’ then much further out tae Castlemilk.  Ah think they thought they were movin up in the world an’ that they had made it kind of thing [laughs]

Aye, I know what, I can understand.

T: And then mah dad was awful proud o’ the flats an’, in fact when people used tae say tae him aboot stayin there, when the hurricane, remember the Glasgow hurricane, in nineteen sixty-eight, well we were all up all night that night [laughs].  Watchin these flats but we survived an’ mah dad was boastin ye know that how good these flats were an’ the brilliant view that he had an’ like ‘cause we seen all over Glasgow, an’ how we were kind of almost out in the country.  You know the kids could go out and play in the woods, they thought that this wis a great thing.  So there wisnae that feelin ae, at the time gettin, they felt as if we were movin up socially, you know like they felt as if they were economically movin up.  An’ both ae them were workin an’ had good jobs so ag-, an’ a lot ae the people in the flats were workin, it wisnae a case a people were unemployed or you know.  They were maybe moved there but they liked them.  [? 2:59 interference] worked hard so, he’d had a, he got a job wae GPO, he came out ae construction because ae an accident so he had a wee bit o’ compensation money an’ him an’ mah mum used that to furnish the whole flat.  An’ like you know, they brought in all the mod cons an’ everything like that an’, said [? 3:17 unclear] day, the wall tae wall carpetin an’ you know, the radiogram, an’ we hid, like they had it really nice.

And you mum had a washing machine [? 3:27 interference] a twin tub.

T: She bought that just before we left an’ a small fridge.  Em, so they had that fitted in the kitchen an’ now, they, they already had a dining room table an’ that went in the kitchen.  So they had an eat in kitchen and two bedrooms an’ a bathroom, my goodness and the veranda, which was, a, such a bonus for them, they just thought, an’ they had a nice view, you know, they could sit back and look over Glasgow an’, they just thought it was excellent.  They loved it.

Tell me, tell me a wee bit about the bathroom, what was it like?

T: The bathroom had no window in it, em, ‘cause it was in the flat, so it was mid way up the hall on the left hand side in our case an’ it just had the toilet wash hand basin an’ then the bath.  An’ my dad, my mum put a glass door in the bathroom because there was no window in it ... She figured that would be good, so we had this glass door which was quite kind or out there in the sixties.  And em, my dad tiled it in yellow and white tiles, the whole bathroom, put little glass mounted, little glass shelves for wur toothbrush an’ aw ae that.  It was, it was quite snazzy, eh, and we really, really enjoyed it, but in the beginning the sort of habits, the bathing habits remained the same initially.  This mad dash tae have a bath every night.  My mum was really frugal, eh, so we still only had a bath on a Sunday as the norm [laughs] And my sister used to have a bath in the sink, then we moved on to bathing on a Wednesday and Sunday and then as we got older, em, you know mah dad would go in for a bath on a Friday night and on a Saturday night, but we still, you, you didnae aw just waste one bath for one person, there was none ae that.  So if Lynn or I were in mah mum was in, mah dad would shout ‘leave that bath an’ ah’ll go in’.  You would never have wasted a bath.  An’ John an’ I still do that to that day, our kids think it’s disgusting [laughs].  There’s a good bath in there do you want it, ah’m like that [? 05:39 unclear]  And they just cannae understand, ah says ye never wasted a full bath of water on one person [laughs]

No, especially if you filled it to the top. [laughs]

T: [laughs]  So they had, in the flats when we went in it was black tiled floors and it was under floor heatin in both the living room and the hallway.  The idea ae the hall was to heat the bedrooms an’ the bathroom, ‘cause the bathroom was on one side of the hall and the two bedrooms on the other.  Mah mother wouldn’t put that em, under floor heating on in the hallway an’ she, she hid a hard time graspin the concept o’ central heating, an’ even tae this, wae her new boiler an’ her new central heatin she’s got gas fires blastin in the livin room, which knocks off the central heatin and the bedrooms is like Ice Station Zebra.  An’ then she’s got heated, an’ Lorraine an’ I have given up on tryin tae show her tae regulate an’ temp [? 6:29 interference]  Mah mum could never figure out, but she did have it on in the living room.  To protect the new carpet she had lots o’ rugs down, between the rug, the carpet wis the most amount of heat you’ve ever felt, an’ Lorraine and I [laughs and laughter in the background] coming fae tenements where ye just had the coal fire in the livin room and the rest of the house was cold, ye didnae hiv heaters everywhere, so we were enraptured by this heat everywhere under your feet.  An’ we used tae lie, her an’ I used tae lie between the rug an’ the carpet [laughs], oh it wis just great.  But ah remember that feelin ae aw this heat an’ aw this hot water as well because that, mah mother just had a wee kind of geyser thing up on the wall, so you’d runnin hot water an’ em.  So ah remember the kind, the fun ae that, o’ em, an’ havin it.  An’ ah remember the first summer we went there must have been quite a good summer because we originally bought sun loungers an’ they were out there.  Mah mother was actually tanned.  They, they were west facing in the veranda so they, the sun round about two o’clock an’ then that was it the whole night.

So they would just out there.

T: They would sit out there, and at the weekend they would be lying out there as if they were in Monte Carlo, wae Frank Sinatra on the radiogram an’ father had got a Soda Stream out ae the Kensitas Coupons ‘cause he smoked, an’ was very enamoured by that [laughs]

 

Multi-Storey Memories

Life in Govanhill

For the first 9 years of my life, I lived in 36 Hickman Street, Govanhill, Glasgow. My Mum and Dad had both come from the Gorbals and my Mum’s extended family still lived there. My parents had purchased this flat, a room and kitchen with an inside toilet. Hickman Street was a lovely house and the close was well kept. My Mum and Dad slept in the bedroom and I was originally in with them, first in a cot and then a ‘Z-Bed’. Eventually I was moved into the bed recess in the kitchen and my Mum turned her bedroom into a living room, buying a 3-piece suite with a sofa bed, which they would open up every night. However, we continued to use the kitchen with the two fireside armchairs, and table and chairs, as our main living space. My sister was born in 1964 and she slept in the room with my Mum and Dad.

Being in Govanhill, my Mum shopped locally almost every day as we did not have a fridge. She shopped in Cathcart Road, between Aikenhead Road and Calder Street and sometimes we would go to Victoria Road, what we thought of as an extremely posh area of Govanhill.

I went to Holy Cross Primary School, firstly in the infants in Daisy Street and then in the main school on Calder Street, opposite from where it is now. I was a shy child at school and none of my playmates from Hickman Street were in my class. However, I remember playing ‘balls’ on the huge walls in the playground and other team games

My Mum continued to work when I was young, and my Dad was doing well as a labourer in construction, eventually working as a ‘gaffer’ on the Kingston Bridge. However, due to a serious crane accident at work, my Dad looked for a job out of construction and began working with telecommunications in the G.P.O., which later became British Telecom.

 

Moving to Mitchell-hill

The Flat

In 1966, when I was 9, we moved to 9 Mitchell-hill Road, Floor 8, Flat 83. I have no memory of the actual move. Each block had a name, ours was Cathkin Court, however, we rarely used this name, and instead we used the numbers of the blocks, so it was Block 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11.

We were the second tenant to move into our flat and I remember the excitement of having our own bedrooms, as well as a bathroom. The kitchen seemed huge and held our dining table too. Plus we had a verandah, which faced west. My parents loved the verandah and immediately bought folding sun beds and would lie out there at night after work. My Mum was even tanned!

The flats had underfloor heating in the living room and hall, the idea being that the hall would heat the bathroom and bedrooms. The floors were black tiles and looked very swish to us. My Mum loved it and my Dad loved the beautiful view, as we overlooked all of Glasgow. With the flats being set on the Cathkin Braes, we felt we were surrounded by greenery and that we had moved to the countryside. We did not think that moving to Castlemilk was bad. We thought we were at the heart of the regeneration of Glasgow with the access to modern housing with all new amenities. It was a dream come true for our family and my parents threw everything into our new flat. We had wall-to-wall matching gold carpet in the living and hall, we got a twin tub and fridge, a radiogram and rented a black and white TV. My Dad completely tiled the bathroom in lemon and white tiles and added glass shelves. This new flat was a far cry from our old tenement and I think my parents felt that they had finally ‘made it’.

 

Old Habits Die Hard

However, old habits remained and in the beginning, we still had a bath only on a Sunday and my Mum still used the sink to bath my sister. We moved then to bathing on a Wednesday and Sunday, and then as time passed, Fridays or Saturdays were added. My Mum used the underfloor heating in the living room, a really decadent move for her, and I remember the sheer pleasure of the heat under your feet. Protecting her new carpets, there were lots of rugs and my sister and I would often lie on the floor between the rug and the carpet, wrapped in all this heat. However, my Mum rarely used the underfloor heat in the hall and instead put a propane heater in the hall and electric Dimplex heaters in the rooms. I’m sure this was a false economy and to this day, my Mum still doesn’t get the notion and the benefit of central heating and regulating temperatures. Despite a new boiler and central heating system, she still has an extremely hot living room with a gas fire and central heating on, and then cold bedrooms with heated blankets.

 

The Landings

Each floor had 6 flats, with the 4 corner flats being ‘3 apartments’ meaning they had 2 bedrooms. There was also a one apartment (living room and bedroom together), and a two apartment (1 bedroom), on the main landing, and these flats usually housed a single elderly person and then, an elderly couple. Two of the 3 apartment were on the main landing and the other two, were in a small private area, opening on to the stairs, one set of stairs at the front and one at the back. Our flat, 83, was one of these flats which faced front, and therefore our duties were to clean the stairs, rather than the landing. In my bedroom was a fire escape door, and the idea was that our next door neighbour would come through our house, via a gate in the verandah, and out the fire escape onto the stairs. Having a door to the outside in the children’s bedroom only provided stress from my Mum. However in retrospect, since both bedrooms were approximately the same size, she could have switched our rooms.

Initially the landings we kept beautifully, with small tables, plants and ornaments and gleaming tiled floors. There were even net curtains in the window of the chute room. However as tenants changed and moved away and different people came, habits changed. If someone decided not to clean the landing, this caused arguments and the next turn was postponed. Since we were in the separate area, we did our stairs regardless (this was my chore), and kept our area clean but I remember some stinky times when the chute room was not cleaned. Community had been everything in the tenements and so arguments and not keeping the area clean caused stress to my Mum. Another interesting side effect to multi-storey living was that you did not see, or always know, the neighbours above and below you, in the way you did in the tenements. In fact, my Dad, when going to and from work, often never saw anyone in the lift and wondered where everyone was. As time went on, this caused you to say nothing when you did meet someone, and often you were in the lift with half a dozen of your neighbours, all living in the same building, and yet nobody said a word. I’m sure older people felt isolated by this silence and not knowing your neighbours and this issue pervaded many aspects of living in Mitchell-hill. However in the beginning, although it was noticed, we were a young family, had plenty relatives in Castlemilk, and so never gave it much thought.

 

Caretakers

In the beginning, each flat had a caretaker who lived, usually, on the first floor. They seemed tough men who took no nonsense from anyone. In fact, one night my Mum and Dad were coming home with friends from the Labour Club in Barlia, and were chatting as they walked. Your voices carried up the flats and my Dad was a loud speaker, so the caretaker leaned out his window and gave them a rollicking, my Mum said she was mortified! They were the same with kids, and kept us all in line. One of the caretaker’s main duties was the garbage room downstairs and keeping that organised. For bigger items, you were warned not to dispose down the chute and to leave at the garbage room door downstairs. One day in the lift with the caretaker’s family, I was surprised to see his daughter wearing my dress, but I never said a word. As time went on, there were cutbacks and a caretaker would be given more than one block and so standards began to slip. In fact, I think it ended up one caretaker for all 5 blocks, which was impossible.

 

Transport

Our flat was straight across from the 37 terminus and so there was no trouble with transportation. The 5 and 34 buses, at that time, ran to the top of Castlemilk Drive and so we could also access them. The 46 bus was further down Ardencraig Road, but using that bus meant a climb uphill on the way home. However during the general strikes of the 1970s, we realised how isolated we were as we had to walk uphill to Mitchell-hill, all the way from Croftfoot Station. Also, the hill that the flats sat upon could be treacherous to walk on in winter months with the path being huge, long steps with no railings. My Mum said she stood at the window scared to go down them and when she went to work, walked down the grass and dirt rather than risk falling. Finally, a railing was put up the middle to help residents navigate the path.

Shopping

In the early 60’s, my Mum was working in the Samaritan Hospital as a cleaner, and kept this job after our move to Castlemilk. She therefore continued to use the shops she knew and carried the messages home on the bus. Just before leaving Govanhill, we had bought a small fridge and so this allowed her to miss shopping every day, although it was a hard habit for her to break. She also liked to go into town on a Saturday shopping for food in Lewis’s and Marks and Spencer. We were a bus ride away from the shopping centre in Castlemilk and so my Mum really did not use it in the beginning. However, as time went on, she did use this centre and since my Nana lived in Barlia Drive, we would visit her as well. The shopping centre had some good shops at that time, with 3 butchers, green grocers and several bakers, as well as a supermarket and Woolworth. My Dad was extremely fussy about the food he ate, and so my Mum was careful in buying food that he approved. In fact, my sister and I continued this habit, shopping in many shops, rather than supermarkets, and only buying meat from reputable butchers.

In Mitchell-hill, a grocery van was parked there but I don’t remember my Mum sending us there very often. We also had an ice cream van parked between blocks 7 and 9, and this we did use. On a Sunday, a great treat was going down with a bowl (it was actually a milk jug), and getting 4 scoops of ice cream to have with our tin of fruit.

However, one van we all loved was the Dalziel Bakery van that came late on a Sunday night from Airdrie, selling fresh rolls. We did not how it got there or why they picked us, we just knew we loved it! Late on a Sunday night, my sister and I would wait patiently at our bedroom window for the voice shouting, ‘Dee-ell!’ With that we were off and running to get half dozen warm rolls.

 

Washing Clothes

My Mum used the twin tub and originally went downstairs to hang out the clothes in a drying area. I believe there were machines there, but I don’t remember them. However, this was another impossible situation as firstly, there was not enough room for everyone to hang out their clothes. Secondly, it meant taking your washing and kids down to the ground floor, thirdly, there was the worry of clothing being stolen, and not being able to see the washing. Although against the rules, my Mum quickly set up ropes in the veranda, using the railings and the window latches to get 4 lines. An additional benefit was that because the verandah was set into the building, you could still get most of your washing out when it rained, as long as the wind was blowing the right way.

 

Historical Events

There were a few events that gave us pause for thought over the years, the first being the hurricane that hit Glasgow on January 15th 1968. The scary thing was that it was during the night and so we were all up and down all night, watching and feeling the flats sway. My dad felt vindicated that we survived without any damage that night, as many people thought all the multi storey flats would not survive. These included my Dad’s friend, who took his family and literally ran along the road to spend the night with his parents.

The second event on July 20, 1969 began for us as my Dad woke up my sister and told us to come watch history being made. The house was in darkness, apart from the television set, and we all sat in our pyjamas in the dark, watching the first men walk on the Moon. I remember afterwards all standing at the window looking at the Moon, and feeling lucky that we were just that little bit closer than everyone else.

The last event happened in the very early hours of Boxing Day, 1979. I had married at this point but was visiting my family for a Christmas party. Most people had left my parent’s house and my Dad and Husband had gone to bed. My sister, cousin, and I had helped my Mum tidy up and we were all having a cup of tea when I noticed the pictures on the walls begin to shake. Then the lamps, and then from beneath the chairs, you could feel a strong vibration and we all froze. The earthquake only lasted a few minutes, had an epicentre in Carlisle, and the Magnitude was 4.5, but it scared us and we again were glad the flats survived unscathed.

 

Social Life

My Mum and her siblings were their own social network and not one for friends, and this continues today. My Dad was a completely differemt character, gregarious, happy, confident and very social. He had many friends at work and at the Labour Club. Although my Mum went to dances and nights out there, she didn’t socialise with the people at any other times. A Bowling Club was built in Dougrie Rd. and my Dad began going there, playing bowls and socialising. It became the centre of his life and he was really good at it and won many awards. Many years later, he paid for my son to be taught bowling and when we came to Canada, my son won the junior championship for Manitoba and for a while, travelled all over Canada representing Manitoba.

We were also first in line when the new swimming pool opened as my Dad was a good swimmer. We were never out of the swimming pool and went weekly. That had been a habit carried on from Govanhill, where we would also go weekly to have a bath. My sister won the awards for swimming but it was not for me.

Dad also liked to get us out of Glasgow at the weekend and he would organise away trips for my Mum, and her family. We would get a bus into High Street and get the train from there to Balloch. Later on we had a car and his work passenger van, and we would all pile in there and go further up north to Oban, or down to the seaside at Largs or Seamill. Seaside trips meant all the kids picked mussels and whelks and often we would cook them up on the beach.

After moving to Mitchell-hill, my Mum began hosting Christmas. Prior to that, we had gone to my Nana’s. My Mum would have us, my Nana and Granda, my Granny Burke and her 2 sisters, my Dad’s aunts. Later at night, everyone else came along and we had a party.

At New Year, my aunt had the party and we all went there. We were put to bed in the afternoon and then woke up about 10 p.m. so that we would get a bath and put on new clothes. Because we were going out straight after the ‘Bells’, my Mum would only lay her table with shortbread, Madeira, and currant bun. Dad would arrange a sherry for her, a whisky for himself, and cordial for us. We would bring in the Bells and then get ready to go to my aunt’s house. My Dad would take his whisky and 2 glasses in his coat jacket and he would wish everyone he met, ‘Happy New Year’ and pour the men a ‘half’ to be drunk in the street.

For my sister and I, our social lives centred around our school, church, cousins, and school friends who lived locally. For me, I didn’t have friends in our block, my friend stayed in block 11 and and another across the road in Ardencraig Rd., the latter I am still in touch with today as she lives in Vancouver. In my time, we played in the woods across the road, and up in the Cathkin Braes. We explored, played at ‘wee shops and houses’, street games such as Victory, skipping ropes, and balls, although getting a good wall was difficult, plus it was really windy under the flats. At the time, none of us had bikes or toys and it was all imagination and playing with each other. My Mum was not a person who liked other kids in the house to play and so on wet days, I read books and played with my sister. At the weekends we played card games, dominoes and Monopoly with my Dad.

We went swimming in Castlemilk Baths, and as we got older and they built the new Grange School, we went there on a Wednesday night at 9 p.m. for ‘girl’s swimming’. On a Saturday morning, we went ice skating to Crossmyloof Ice Rink and for movies, the State Picture House in King’s Park. As a teenager, the highlight of the week was the St. Martin’s Disco held on a Sunday night. The priest was the bouncer and he stood at the door with a baseball bat, hitting it into the palm of his hand. Once we turned 16, teenagers in Castlemilk then headed to the Terminal 1 Disco in St. Enoch Square, where all the buses in Castlemilk had their terminus. My husband told me later that he had tried many times to get in there, but to no avail as the ‘Castlemilk Lads’ stopped you at the door, only Castlemilk kids allowed!

In the End…

By 1974, I was out working and by 1976, I was married and away from the flats, although I did come and visit my parents. For my Mum, there were many changes that upset her including the housing of teenagers, turning family homes into party and drug houses. The landings became dirtier as no-one cleaned them, and the isolation peaked as the turnover in renters increased. Lifts were often broken, meaning elderly people couldn’t get out, and the flat themselves were not being maintained the same. The ‘good tenants’ were leaving in droves and for my parents, the end came when their house was burglarised. Due to increasing break-ins, my Dad had been increasing security on the door and they had 3 different locks, as well as a sheet of metal on the back of the door, so that like other neighbours, the lock couldn’t be sawn out. However, they were determined to get in and so set up an industrial jack against the wall and the door, cranking it so that it shot the whole door up the hallway. My Mum especially found it difficult as this had been a well-planned burglary, and she felt they were being watched. Also, the noise must have been tremendous but no-one heard a thing and my parents felt betrayed by their neighbours. My Mum began going to the council offices in Dougrie Rd. almost every day and eventually managed to get the points to give her a house back in Govanhill.

For me, Castlemilk and the flats were wonderful in the beginning, as they provided amenities we had never had, as well as family all around. However, to have so many people living on the outskirts of the city, with no shops or entertainment, was bound to go wrong. If it wasn’t for the Cathkin Braes offering inner city kids the chance to explore the countryside, it might have been worse. For my parents, the deterioration was difficult and they couldn’t wait to leave.

For me, half a century after we moved there, I have nostalgic and happy memories of Mitchell-hill flats, and when I was sent the video of them being demolished, I began to cry.

 

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Leslie - Moss Heights (1957/8-1961)

Leslie moved with his family to Moss Heights when he was seven  or eight in 1957/8. He'd been born in Govan in Glasgow and the family had also lived in Renfrew where they had rented tenement flats. They later left Moss Heights to buy a house in Paisley.


Source: Moss Heights in 1955, ©The Glasgow Story (Burrell Collection Photo Library, 1955 Survey)

 

 Below is an extract selected by Leslie from his narrative for the project:

From high rise to suburbia

 

So that pursuit of a grammar education wasn’t that unusual at Moss Heights?

L: I would say it might have applied to ten, maybe fifteen percent of the kids. But yeah, I think that’s kind of a natural, or perceived betterment process, in terms of the education and so on.

And did any of them ever say anything to you, any of the other boys, any of the other children, did they pass remark?

L: -- Er, not particularly. I suppose it was more- I felt kind of different from them, rather than- they wasn’t any sort of particular nastiness or anything that I can recall about it. But there was this realisation that we were going somewhere else, you know, that we’re not part of the day to day experience that they were all going through.

So, when your parents came to leave then, you were a bit older then. Can you remember, what were their motivations about leaving?

L: I think the motivations were to do with some of the factors I mentioned, deterioration and some of the social aspects of it, you know, the whole place was as good as the weakest member of the village, as it were. And I do think, you know, as time went by, that there was more incidence of you know, drink problems, of vandalism, of – not violence, but you know, disputes within families and that kind of thing. So all the sort of, quality of the social environment was deteriorating. But you know there was, at that point also this sort of increase in the desire to own your own property, it first started around then. Because historically, Glasgow’s not like that, it was, you know, more a central European model of tenements and stuff like that. And I think, particularly they thought having sent us to the grammar school, we were mixing with people who- we were the only people who were coming from –

A high rise building

L: Yeah, everyone else was coming from Newton Mearns and Giffnock and that sort of thing. I think in the same way they sent us to school, I think they sort of felt they needed to basically buy a house and join that sort of.

And where did they buy the house at, where was it in relation to Moss Heights?

L: Well it was, we moved out to Ralston in Paisley, which was just outside the Glasgow boundary.

And do you remember that process of moving?

L: Yeah, I remember that.  Vividly – Because I got lost one day, apparently. Because what I’d done was I’d cycled to see the new house, it was being- because it was a new house. It was being built.

So it was a new build, privately built?

L: Yeah, it was brought off plan so it wasn’t – it was still under construction when they bought it- and I- I don’t know what age I must have been eleven or something, and I’d cycled to Paisley, I hadn’t told anyone I was going so they were all- I’d gone to look at the new house. Oh it was a big, it was quite a big deal.

So you were clearly curious about it then. Can you remember what you sort of thought, at the time?

L: I thought- I mean again being brought up on this kind of you know, awareness of nature and the environment and that sort of thing, this new house appeared to me to be out in the country because it overlooked a golf course and it was surrounded by- it was on the edge of the green belt and I think it still is, it was surrounded by fields and things.

Suburban, very

L: It felt, you know, completely different from the Moss Heights because it was in a, you know, semi-rural setting.

So did you want to move?

L: Yeah, by that stage most of my friends at school were you know, living in these sort of circumstances, parents with their own house, in the suburbs. I think by that time the Moss Heights had become a bit of a- not a burden, but kind of (Chuckles) ‘why are we different from everybody else’? You know, sort of thing.

And when the house was finally built then, and you moved, what were your impressions whenever you actually went to live there? How did it compare, for example, to Moss Heights?

L: Well, it was, it was – it compared similarly in the sense that it was a new build and it had all kind of contemporary facilities, central heating, toilet facilities and all that. So the big change was, obviously, that we had a garden, we’d a garage, we’d a driveway and this sort of stuff. So it was very much- it was a terraced house, it felt, you know, that this was a completely different experience. And a much clearer identity, ‘this is our house’ kind of thing. You know? With its own front door, all the- just the complete contrast between being in a flat, off a close, and being in a house, and at that early age I was quite aware of that.

You said that in Moss Heights people lived quite close together, so there was a fair amount of interaction between people, you had friends even on different floors in the block- what was the interaction with neighbours like when you moved to the new house?

L: I found there was a particular- it was a cul de sac development, so it had a slight village feel to it as well. That little community around the cul de sac was very strong. And it was, in a way it was easier for them, I think for my parents, because most of the people there had a similar background, had emerged from – you know, were semi-professional, were teachers, policeman, accountants, these sorts of people. I think there was more uniformity about the social group. I think that the thing that I missed quite a lot was – I didn’t mention it earlier, but at Moss Heights and maybe part of the reason for moving there, was we were literally a ten or fifteen minute walk away from both sets of grandparents, who were by that time relatively elderly. And you know, we used to spent a lot of time down at Barfillan Drive, where you could walk to that down the front or more often than not down through the cemetery. The cemetery at Moss Heights was a major facility! (Laughing) For play, for getting from A to B, for general interest. We spent a lot of time in the cemetery. So that was – by moving out to Paisley, that facility wasn’t there anymore. You could just pop in and see your granny, and she’d a big garden when she needed help with that, and so on. So it was a bit of a – particularly in – we didn’t really get a car until we moved, two or three years in Paisley. And- so everything had to be done by public transport, busses. 

 

 

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Julie - Wyndford (1963-present)

Julie moved from a single end in Anderson to Wyndford in Maryhill in 1964 with her parents, brothers and sisters. She lived in a low rise maisonette but can remember playing in the lifts in the high flats on Glenfinnan Road

Source: Wyndford, 1967 ©Virtual Mitchell

 

 

Below is an extract selected by Julie from her narrative for the project:

'... that was a novelty': Playing in and around high rise flats in Wyndford

 

Back then to your childhood, where did you play?  What are your memories of growing up in Wyndford basically as girl?

J:  Apart from playing in the high flats as well.  We quite liked that.

Oh really?

J:  Aye, we quite liked going up and down in the lifts that was a novelty for a long time going up and down in the lifts.  Some people liked to get locked, not locked but eh jump in the lifts so it would stop but I never liked.

What was the idea behind that?

J:  I think they liked the idea of the whole drama of the caretaker having to come and oh my goodness we are all locked in and they would put this pantomime in.  The reality was they locked themselves in so I quickly wisened up to no going into the lift with anybody like that.  My cousins who came from Partick often 'let’s go up in the lift' and we would be up in the lift and they liked looking out.  The lift was quite a novelty but for playing for us was the Kelvin.

The Kelvin right?

J:  Down where the army houses are, that’s down at the new substation.  Was our, we were never away from there.  We were down there building huts or some sort of and we were always looking for, cause there was quite a lot of ammunition - old shells being left - cause that particular area was a lot more down.  If you look at the old photos it goes right into the Kelvin.  We used to play there and we would find lots of old shells - we never found a bomb right enough.  But we would find things like that; in fact we found a dog Mallock his name was.  It turned out he was an army dog because he had the army tag and I wanted to keep him of course but he was genuinely not a stray.  He was beautiful, a beautiful dog.  My love for dogs has not changed I am still the same always bringing some stray in.  That was where we played all the time and we took great pride in the building of the huts.  Sometimes we even built double deckers.  Oh my goodness they were amazing, I don't know what it was but we liked to play there.  Also a very dangerous thing a lot of the boys did but I never did, cause I was afraid of heights, it was called the plankies.  They used to go down under the old railway bits, underneath it was like walkways we waked about them and swung about.  One boy fell down once.  Another was we use to get ropes and put them on the tree and swing.

So there were things to do?  Sometimes you hear this complaint that back in the 60s and 70s a lot of the Council estates they didn't have play parks and various things.  There was nothing for children to do...

J:  To be fair they built a fabulous square area they called a playpen.  I don't know why it was a play pen as it was just tarmac - there was nothing to do in it.  Then again we used to use our imagination they were building the garages then so we used to build wee houses in the play park things like that houses, play houses and shops.  I suppose they were things we were doing in Anderston as well.  We had crisp packets with dirt in it and money was your stones, all the things like filling a bottle if you found a bottle.   You never had much rubbish lying around.  Not as much I mean what I see now, what are we going to do?  Cause we just keep throwing stuff out.  But if we did have something like that it would be to put the bricks round and pretend this was a house.  Or if Wimbledon was on I remember in the 70s we used to be put a rope across from the one end of the play pen to the actual wall and we would play tennis there.  We were quite good at that as well.

So what was the play pen was it basally just tarmac with a fence around it?

J:  A wall.  A wall.  A brick wall at the side.

Whereabouts were they situated?

J:  They are still there!  See if you go to Strathcarron’ s front?

Yes..

J:  My grandson will say that’s my back door.  I say no it’s got a letterbox on it, but everybody uses my back door as the front door.  It’s kind of changed.  My mother would never let you in the back door.  So that would never be used in that respect.  But then we have a garden area, it was only cobbles then.  But that area to the front was used more in a sense because of the play pen and things like that.  There was no major ball games.  Neighbours would come out and say you've just hit my window or something do you know what I mean.  Because there wasn't much between here or there and a window.  So they weren't really suitable for young people.

Well it sounds like you had a good time..

J:  We had a great time we played; well your mum was calling you in. I've got a grandson who is eight and I mean I can't get him to go out sometimes because the entertainment system for them is all at home.  So and I don't know about that, we actively encourage different stuff in here.  Sometimes we will turn off the computers off cause we say no you are really no becoming engaged with anything other than a television and they don't want to go out. So life was very different then.

 

 

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