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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

Christian Auer

XVII. Economic and social conditions

123. Castlemilk’s First Tenants, 1957

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1During the fifties and sixties housing was one of the important social issues. In the fifties 30,000 new houses were built each year, but construction slowed down in the early sixties. In those years thousands of Scots left their overcrowded flats to move into new houses. The following extract recounts the experience of Rose McLean whose testimony was recorded in the course of an oral history project that was carried out in Glasgow in the late eighties. “The group is funded by the Workers Educational Association as part of its remit to offer learning opportunities to all ages and all sections of the community. The group, formed in September 1986, are all members of the Pensioners Action centre and the project is part of their attempt to establish the centre as a positive force in the community” (extract from the introduction).

2The Big Flit: Castlemilk’s First Tenants, Glasgow: Workers’ Educational Association, Castlemilk People’s History Group, 1990, p. 4-5; 55.


I remember the day the card came through the door telling me I had a new house in Castlemilk. That was in April 1957. I was all excited—I was getting A NEW HOUSE! I ran out and phoned my mother—I just couldn’t wait. Then when my husband came home from work, he was over the moon too. We both went to the High Street housing office the next morning, but only my husband signed the form. He had to take a day off work and lost a day’s wages but we didn’t think about that! We also had to sign a form stating whether we wanted gas or electricity services. Water was connected and we were to get hot water from our coal fire. The electricity board could put in an immerser, but you had to pay for that yourself.

We got the missives for our house which gave us the regulations for payment of rent and rates and things like cleaning the stairs. We paid our rent every quarter, £ 8 it was. We only paid £1-7/- in our old house in Cowcaddens. We got the keys and my husband took the oldest girls to see the house. They didn’t know where to go, but it was a nice day and they got there somehow. We had three children and a baby of 9 months so I couldn’t go to see the house just then—I thought it was awful far away. In fact I didn’t see the house until the night we moved in. When they came back and said the house was on the ground floor I thought I was getting a back and front door you know—but it was a corner house with a big garden in Ardmaleish Road. They talked about the white sink in the kitchen and the BATHROOM – we only had a toilet in the stair. They were all thrilled.

All this was a very big step for us, you know. I was the only one of my family moving to the south side of the water, but I didn’t like the house I was offered in Drumchapel where all my family were going. To this day I’ve been happy and I haven’t regretted moving to Castlemilk.


I [Rose MacLean] was born in 1925 in Cowcaddens. I came from seven of a family – three boys and, four girls. I left school and worked in 1939 in a clothing manufacturers for 8/-a week. I was married in 1947 and I had six children – three boys, three girls. I came to Castlemilk in 1957 with four children. I had one son and one daughter born in Castlemilk.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013

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