George’s story

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY

He finds his work at the match factory boring and it’s hard to keep his concentration during the long shift, he gets distracted easily. At least he gets a couple of breaks. Most go home to get something to eat but it’s too far for him, so he brings a piece with him. He finds himself getting sleepy sometimes, especially the last couple of hours. Usually one of the others will give him a nudge if he does drift off, and he does the same for them. Mummy usually has a hot meal waiting for him when he gets home, depending on her shift pattern at her own work. 

CHILD’S PLAY

He knows he has to work so that his family can pay their bills and have enough food to eat, but he’d like to have more time for playing with all the other weans that live about him. Between work and Sabbath School on Sundays there’s not much time for enjoying himself. There’s a lot of big families, so when he does get the chance there’s always plenty of them around, to kick a ball with or play chasies. Often someone will get the skipping rope out and they’ll all take a turn, signing rhymes as they do. Just the other day his pal Alice was showing them all a new toy she’d got. Her sister works out in the West End just like his, for one of those rich families, and she’d got given it because the child she looks after didn’t want it anymore. He can’t remember the proper name for it, but it was a circle of card with two threads attached. On one side of the card was a bird and on the other was a cage. When she spun it quickly it looked like the bird was in the cage! He thought it was magic. They all nearly broke it fighting over each other to have a turn of it, so Alice hasn’t brought it out again, she says she wants to keep it nice. He doesn’t blame her. He’ll need to remember and tell his Lizzie about it next time she visits, see if she can get one for him. Or maybe she’d be able to make one- she’s clever with things like that. 

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

He spends a lot of time outdoors when he’s not working or at school, his Mummy shoos him out so she can get on with the cleaning and cooking without him causing a mess. He doesn’t mind so much as it’s a bit dull at home these days anyway now Lizzie has gone. She used to play with him and make up stories to tell him. His brother Edward’s not much fun, he’s always telling him to be quiet and that he has to behave. Edward’s not at home very often these days either though, what with his work at the warehouse and his meetings in the evenings. He doesn’t quite understand what the meetings are all about, other than its something to do with people like his Dad who drink too much. Edward doesn’t drink at all and is always telling him that’s the best way to succeed in life, along with working hard and keeping your head down. It doesn’t sound very exciting to him. 

LOOK AFTER THE PENNIES…

But he’ll admit he doesn’t like it much when he runs into drunken people on his way to work or back. That, along with the smells and all the other things he encounters as he passes through the wynds and closes is why he usually makes a dash for it. If he runs the whole way he can avoid any trouble. He always keeps his eyes open though, occasionally he’ll spot a penny someone has dropped, or a discarded newspaper he can sell on. He enjoys seeing the delight on his Mummy’s face when he gives her an extra penny. What she doesn’t know is that he sometimes keeps a bit back for himself to buy a few sweeties…

OUR INSPIRATION

THE LUCIFER MATCH WORKS

In 1862, on the wishes of Queen Victoria, the Children’s Employment Commission was instructed to investigate child labour and the conditions in which they were working in. Their first report includes details of the Lucifer Match factory on Duke Street in the East End. At the time it was thought to be the only place in Britain at which the whole process of match making was undertaken, from sawing large timbers into planks to completing the boxes. There was also some trade in timber. 

The report details the work pattern of Robert Cameron, aged 10: “Hours are from 6 to 6. Sometimes till 7 or 8. Has worked up to 6 in the morning. Only did that once, and had an hour’s sleep then at 2 o’clock.…Has breakfast at 9, three-quarters of an hour. Dinner at 2, three quarters of an hour. Goes home to them. A bell rings for them to go and come back. Tea at home afterwards. Washes at a trough in the yard.”

TIME FOR SCHOOL

It wasn’t until the 1872 Education Act that schooling became compulsory for those aged five to thirteen. At this time Scotland moved to a system of state funded, mostly free, schools, run by local school boards. Overall administration of this was in the hands of the Scotch (later Scottish) Education Department in London. 

The Glasgow School Board reduced the number, but improved the quality and size of schools. The remaining legacy of the Board can be seen in the large red sandstone buildings still bearing the name that can still be seen across the city. Sadly, several of these are now empty and languishing on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland. 

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

  • To find out more about some of the remaining board schools, check out the Buildings at Risk register for Scotland

  • We’ll be releasing more resources for children and schools later in the project. For now, why not check out our range of Kids Heritage Trails, covering areas such as the Merchant City, Dennistoun and Govan. 

You might also be interested in…

Online Talk: 19th Century Retail and the Rise of the Department Store

Wednesday 8th December 2021 | 7.30pm GMT | via Zoom

Focusing on architecture, window displays, and internal design, this talk will examine how Glasgow department stores, like their Parisian counterparts, became spaces not just of spectacle, but also of manipulation and disorientation.

The Map

“I feel like a bird soaring over the city when I gaze upon Sulman’s map, every nook and cranny with every detail so exact.

I can see where I came from and where I’m at.”

Edward’s story

A DIFFERENT DIRECTION Another day at the warehouse done. He’s a clerk, so there’s always lots of paperwork to get through and it requires great attention to detail. He’s a conscientious and well-organised individual though, so he enjoys it and the satisfaction he gets when a job is done well. 

Become a Friend of Glasgow City Heritage Trust

Each year, our events help over 2000 people to understand and appreciate Glasgow's irreplaceable built heritage. Can you help us to reach more people?

We are hugely grateful for the support of our Friends whose subscriptions help cover the costs of these events, thereby ensuring accessible pricing for everyone in Glasgow in these challenging times.

The easiest way to support the Trust’s work is to join our Friends scheme. Our tiered loyalty scheme means you can choose the level that’s right for you.

Thomas’s story

A HARD DAY’S WORK

His work on the dockside is exhausting, especially now he’s not a young man anymore. He’s glad of it though, and will take whatever he can get. Some of his pals are getting past it now, their bodies ruined by the many years of hard toil, or debilitated by injuries acquired during the course of their work. 

Many a day he’s stood at those gates at calling on time and been passed over by the foreman- they take the young ones first, those who are physically strongest. He wishes they would consider the experience the older men can bring to the job. Sometimes there’s a terrible scramble when the foreman appears. He finds it demeaning, grown men reduced to pushing and shoving each other to get their hands on the metal ticket that will secure them employment for a day. It can be brutal, and the desperation palpable. 

It’s casual labour, you’re taken on to get a specific job done, then paid off once it’s complete, or can be finished by fewer hands. The wages are low too. It means he doesn’t have a regular income and there’s constant uncertainty about how much he’ll make. The consequence is that the rest of his family have to go out and work to supplement his income. It’s a source of shame for him, that he can’t provide for them all. But then, there’s few other options out there and most of the families he knows are in the same position. 

THE DEMON DRINK

Those are the worst days, when he doesn’t manage to get a place. On those days he’s embarrassed to go home to Heather and tell her he’s nothing to contribute, instead he’ll usually drift into one of the pubs along his route home. He tends to drink in the Irish pubs, amongst his own people. He feels most comfortable with them, they’ve been through the same hardships, they’ve also had to leave their home and family long behind them. 

DREAMS OF HOME

He often reminisces about his childhood in the countryside, such a contrast to the noise and relentlessness of the Quayside- the endless shouting, the crashes and bangs of crates being lifted, the pressure to get ships loaded and unloaded, to keep the flow of goods on the river Clyde moving. He wonders sometimes what his life would have been like had he been able to remain in his native Ireland. It’s easy to romanticise the past though, especially when the present is so fraught with risk and uncertainty.

A BETTER LIFE

He hopes things might be a bit easier for his children, less of a struggle. He knows Heather misses Lizzie something terrible, but she’s doing well over in the West End. He feels like his eldest son Edward looks down on him sometimes, he makes him feel a bit inadequate. Edward’s smart, and his fastidiousness will ensure he never knows hard labour. He’s got himself involved with the temperance movement, and he lectures his father sometimes about the trouble with drink and the problems it causes. He knows deep down that he’s probably right, and he tries to go a bit easier on the drink these days under Edward’s influence. It’s not easy though, drink’s his escape from reality and the trauma of his past. Then there’s wee George, who always makes him feel positive. He’s always up to something, coming up with this scheme and that. He’s got entrepreneurial spirit alright, he’ll definitely land on his feet…

OUR INSPIRATION

THE GREAT FAMINE

Also known as the Famine, the Great Hunger or the Irish Potato Famine, The Great Famine was a period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland which lasted from 1845-52. Estimates vary, but during that time around a million people perished and another million left their homeland. By 1855 the number who had emigrated had reached 2 million. Often it was the younger and more capable members of the family who emigrated first. Unlike similar previous emigrations, women left as often and as early as men. The expectation was they would secure work and be able to send money home to the rest of the family. Thomas would have been in his early twenties when he left Ireland for Scotland. 

Emigration during the famine years was primarily to North America, but for those who couldn’t afford to cross the Atlantic, Scotland was the nearest port of call. Even that journey could be perilous, with overcrowding and poor conditions onboard boats that were not fit for purpose. Many, already substantially weakened by the Famine, did not survive the journey. Due to their poverty and often poor state of health, Irish immigrants tended to settle near their point of disembarkation, which in Scotland meant the west coast.

THE GLASGOW IRISH

Glasgow’s industry was a pull for immigrants as it provided a range of employment opportunities. 

Irish men tended to settle in jobs that required strength, such as dock work. It’s been estimated that in Great Britain in 1851 somewhere between a half to three-quarters of all dock-labourers were Irish (www.sath.org.uk). Many Irish women worked in the textile industry or in domestic service. 

The Catholic Irish tended to keep themselves to themselves, creating their own community with strong ties and setting up their own churches and schools. The Church was a focal point in their lives and provided a range of social and recreational opportunities. In 1887 Celtic Football Club was founded in a church hall in the Calton by Brother Walfrid, an Irish Marist Brother. The purpose was to alleviate poverty in the immigrant Irish population in the East End of the city by raising money for a charity Brother Walfrid had set up, the Poor Children’s Dinner Table. Establishing the club as a means of fundraising was inspired by the example of Hibernian, which was formed out of the immigrant Irish population a few years earlier in Edinburgh. 

A new memorial to those who died in the Famine was unveiled outside St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in the Calton in July 2021, the very same church where Celtic was founded. 

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

You might also be interested in…

Online Talk: 19th Century Retail and the Rise of the Department Store

Wednesday 8th December 2021 | 7.30pm GMT | via Zoom

Focusing on architecture, window displays, and internal design, this talk will examine how Glasgow department stores, like their Parisian counterparts, became spaces not just of spectacle, but also of manipulation and disorientation.

The Map

“I feel like a bird soaring over the city when I gaze upon Sulman’s map, every nook and cranny with every detail so exact.

I can see where I came from and where I’m at.”

Edward’s story

A DIFFERENT DIRECTION Another day at the warehouse done. He’s a clerk, so there’s always lots of paperwork to get through and it requires great attention to detail. He’s a conscientious and well-organised individual though, so he enjoys it and the satisfaction he gets when a job is done well. 

Become a Friend of Glasgow City Heritage Trust

Each year, our events help over 2000 people to understand and appreciate Glasgow's irreplaceable built heritage. Can you help us to reach more people?

We are hugely grateful for the support of our Friends whose subscriptions help cover the costs of these events, thereby ensuring accessible pricing for everyone in Glasgow in these challenging times.

The easiest way to support the Trust’s work is to join our Friends scheme. Our tiered loyalty scheme means you can choose the level that’s right for you.

Heather’s story

A WOMAN’S WORK IS NEVER DONE…

She’s spent her morning so far getting the household chores done. It’s the best time for it- wee George heads out to the match factory at the crack of dawn, then Thomas and Edward aren’t long behind him, so she does what she can whilst the house is empty. It’s a room and kitchen they’ve got, so a bit more space than those families stuck in the single ends, but still cramped with the four of them there. They tend to spend most of their time in the kitchen and she tries to keep the ‘good room’ nice, although the boys have to sleep in there of course. 

Now she’s on her way to her shift at the carpet factory. It’s demanding and exhausting work, so she’s glad of this wee breather as she walks through Glasgow Green- a moment to clear her mind between the demands of home and work.  

A MOTHER’S LOVE

There’s Agnes her neighbour, busy getting her washing hung up. She gives her a wee wave and a hello. She’ll need to get down here herself tomorrow with her own washing. Oh, it’s never ending, but at least she can have a gossip with the other woman whilst she sorts the laundry. She’s glad her daughter Lizzie has found a good situation out in the West End, but she misses the female company in the house, and the extra pair of hands in the battle to keep it clean. She hopes Lizzie’s head’s not turned by the splendour of her new environment. She tells some stories on the rare occasions she makes it home for a visit. It’s a different world, and yet only a couple of miles away…

She’s so proud of her Edward too. Rarely touches a drink that one, and he’s always heading off to one of his Temperance Society meetings. He’ll make something of himself, of that she’s sure.

YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR WEALTH

She’s coughing again. It’s getting more persistent these days, she fears the fluff from the carpets she weaves has got into her lungs and dear knows what damage its doing. It’s not just her own health she’s worried about, she’s concerned about the phossy jaw some of them used to get from working at the match factory, although apparently it doesn’t happen so much these days. She hates sending George out to work at his age, but they just can’t manage without his wages, meagre as they are. 

Thomas isn’t getting any younger either and recently there’s more often been days when he hasn’t been taken on by the foreman. She knows it makes him feel wretched so she tries to keep his spirits up and makes sure he doesn’t know how anxious it makes her, trying to work out how they’ll balance the shortfall. It caused a bit of a fuss when she announced to her family she was marrying an Irish man, and there was some consternation from his lot too. The Irish tend to keep to themselves when it comes to marriage, and find someone within their own community. But they’ve toughed it out for over 20 years now the pair of them. 

Image courtesy of University of Glasgow, Maps, Official Publications and Statistics department.

LOOMING INDUSTRY

The carpet factory is in sight now and she knows the brief respite is over. She fills her lungs as she looks around, surveying the vast and ever expanding industrial landscape. Everywhere you look there’s chimneys, pelting out endless streams of smoke. Below the chimneys there’s warehouses, factories, mills and workhouses, full of hard working people just like her. 

OUR INSPIRATION

DIRT, DAMP AND DECAY

Frederick Engels, writing in his famous Conditions of the Working Class in England, 1844, had this to say about the condition of working class housing in Glasgow:

“I have seen human degradation in some of its worst phases, both in England and abroad, but I can advisedly say, that I did not believe, until I visited the wynds of Glasgow, that so large an amount of filth, crime, misery, and disease existed in one spot in any civilised country….In the lower lodging houses, ten, twelve, or sometimes twenty persons, of both sexes and all ages, sleep promiscuously on the floor in different degrees of nakedness. These places are generally, as regards dirt, damp, and decay, such as no person of common humanity would stable his horse in.”

This vivid description gives some indication of the hardships working class families would have faced just to keep their homes clean and respectable. Overcrowded and damp tenements encouraged tuberculosis and rheumatic diseases. Fever epidemics regularly raged through the city until the 1870’s.

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD

Living conditions weren’t the only thing detrimental to people’s health in those days. Respiratory illness rose as heavy industry led to unprecedented level of environmental pollution. Without the Health & Safety regulations that govern employment today, those working in 19th century Glasgow would have faced exposure to a range of dangerous and potentially life threatening situations.  ‘Phossy jaw’, or phosphorus necrosis of the jaw to give its proper name, was an occupational disease affecting those who worked with white phosphorus without proper safeguards. It was most commonly seen in workers at match factories. Textile industry workers often suffered from rheumatism and asthma. 

PARKS AND RECREATION

Glasgow Green dominates the bottom right hand corner of Sulman’s map. Amongst the crowded streets and riverside, filled with buildings, boats and people, it stands out as an open and relatively empty space, a haven in the hustle and bustle of the industrial city. By the late-1800s, Glasgow was one of the fastest growing cities in the world.  The  people who made up this new community needed employment and homes, but they also needed recreation, and so many more parks were set out in the decades after Sulman’s map was made. Just like Heather, present day Glaswegians enjoy getting a breath of fresh air at the Green, or at one of the over 90 other green spaces in the city. No wonder that Glasgow is still known as the ‘dear green place’. 

Glasgow Green, looking east, 1904. Image: Glasgow University Archive Services, PHU64/37
Children on Glasgow Green, early 20th century. Image: Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums. PP.1990.62.2
Football pitches at Fleshers' Haugh on Glasgow Green, c 1920s. Image: Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums. 480.85.89.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

  • Join us for a talk by author Sara Sheridan about some remarkable women of this period. ‘Where are the women?’, Wednesday 9th February 2022, 7.30pm. Free, donations welcome, booking required.
  • This useful summary of Thomas Annan’s famous The Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow gives an insight into the living conditions of the working classes of the time.
  • This blog celebrates Glasgow’s parks and some of the iconic structures contained within them.

You might also be interested in…

Online Talk: 19th Century Retail and the Rise of the Department Store

Wednesday 8th December 2021 | 7.30pm GMT | via Zoom

Focusing on architecture, window displays, and internal design, this talk will examine how Glasgow department stores, like their Parisian counterparts, became spaces not just of spectacle, but also of manipulation and disorientation.

The Map

“I feel like a bird soaring over the city when I gaze upon Sulman’s map, every nook and cranny with every detail so exact.

I can see where I came from and where I’m at.”

Edward’s story

A DIFFERENT DIRECTION Another day at the warehouse done. He’s a clerk, so there’s always lots of paperwork to get through and it requires great attention to detail. He’s a conscientious and well-organised individual though, so he enjoys it and the satisfaction he gets when a job is done well. 

Become a Friend of Glasgow City Heritage Trust

Each year, our events help over 2000 people to understand and appreciate Glasgow's irreplaceable built heritage. Can you help us to reach more people?

We are hugely grateful for the support of our Friends whose subscriptions help cover the costs of these events, thereby ensuring accessible pricing for everyone in Glasgow in these challenging times.

The easiest way to support the Trust’s work is to join our Friends scheme. Our tiered loyalty scheme means you can choose the level that’s right for you.

Elizabeth’s story

ESCAPE TO THE WEST END

In Sulman’s map we can see the freshly dug foundations of tenements along Sauchiehall Street. The growing demand for housing at the time followed a huge influx of workers moving to Glasgow as a result of the industrial revolution. Crowding and pollution in the city centre led many middle class families to move to these newly built tenements. Large townhouses were also built at Park Circus atop Kelvingrove Park between 1855 and 1863 and are representative of a shift in the location of wealth and power in the city, which from then on was concentrated in the West End.

HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVE

In the animation Elizabeth, working as a domestic servant for the wealthy Webster family in the West End, wonders at the grandeur of it all as she does the daily shopping. Did she dream of living in one of these homes herself one day? What must it have been like to be waited on hand and foot and to have people for tea each afternoon? How she wished she could be Isabelle Webster, even for a night, to get dressed up in all that finery, then head off to one of the grand ballrooms to dance and meet eligible young men. 

Her quarters at the Websters house are much more spacious than she’s used to, she shares an attic room with Jane the scullery maid. It’s lovely to have a bit of space, not that she’s got many belongings to fill it with. She worries about her family though, stuck in the cramped conditions of the High Street, on the other side of town. She misses them too, especially her cheeky little brother George! She doesn’t get to see them often now as days off are few and far between. 

MY NAME’S NOT MARY….

“Mary? Where have you got to? We need to be making a start on the supper!”

Oh, that’s Cook calling. It still jars with her that she’s called Mary here, it’s irritating. She’s known as Mary because at the Webster’s the kitchen maid has always been called Mary. The name’s stuck even though the person hasn’t. Apparently it’s quite common in these big houses. She daren’t complain about it though, she tends to keep her head down here and get on with her work. She doesn’t mind her job and the conditions are comfortable, things could be much worse.  Sure just the other day Jane was telling her about the maid along the road at the Jennings house. They accused her of stealing a bracelet and she was sent packing. Her chances of finding another position without a reference are slim, she’ll probably end up on the streets, falling into prostitution, or god forbid in The Lock..she’s heard horror stories about it, the ‘Hospital for Unfortunate Females’. 

Anyway, she better be getting back to work, no dawdling allowed…

OUR INSPIRATION

Many female workers moving to Glasgow at the time of Sulman’s map found employment in domestic service. Most were from Ireland and the Highlands and Islands, but others were from nearby Ayrshire, or Glasgow itself. One such servant was a Margaret Renton, who was born in Glasgow in 1840 and as a child lived with her family at 33 Millars Place, off Saltmarket. According to 1851 census records, her father was a plasterer. Her mother has no occupation listed, whilst she had two older sisters working as a dressmaker and a servant. Others living at Millar’s place at that time include a porter, a furniture dealer, a tailor and a power loom weaver.

By 1861 Margaret had followed her sister into domestic service, working for the Sommerville family in the West End. Over the next 10 years she married and had three children. By 1881 her and her husband were living in Tradeston, cheek by jowl with industry. By then they had 8 children and Margaret has no occupation listed. 

The arc of Margaret’s life was somewhat typical of those employed in domestic service. They would often commence service in their late teens and work through into their early twenties, living in with their employer. They would usually leave once married and, according to the census, have ‘no occupation’. The shortcomings of the census in terms of recording women’s employment are well documented however, particularly as much of women’s work was temporary, home based, or linked to her husband’s occupation.

Ordnance Survey Town Plan, Glasgow, 1857. Copyright National Library of Scotland
This engraving by Allan & Ferguson (1843) shows Somerset Place looking west across Elderslie Street. The terrace, set back from Sauchiehall Street, was originally residential and laid out in 1840 to designs by John Baird Jnr. The buildings are now occupied mostly by offices. Image: Sp Coll Bh12-y.14, Glasgow University Library, Special Collections
10 Somerset Place, 2021.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

  • Explore our interactive map. The surviving buildings layer features several prestigious West End addresses, including Park Circus and Claremont Terrace. 
  • Head over to our online shop where you’ll find prints of Sulman’s map, including the Tradeston, High Street and Park areas. Every purchase supports our work!
  • This article explores the economic role of women in Victorian Glasgow in more detail. 

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Our new interactive map shows data collated between February and April 2018 which gives a snapshot of the current state of Glasgow’s historic built environment.

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Read our latest blog post about our Ghost Signs of Glasgow project, pondering the nature of ghost signs and what they tell us about the urban landscape.

Enjoy Family Fun with our Kids Trails!

So…we’re allowed out every day for a walk, we have kids at home to entertain and the streets are deserted – sounds like an ideal time to have a go at some heritage detective work!

Become a Friend of Glasgow City Heritage Trust

Each year, our events help over 2000 people to understand and appreciate Glasgow's irreplaceable built heritage. Can you help us to reach more people?

We are hugely grateful for the support of our Friends whose subscriptions help cover the costs of these events, thereby ensuring accessible pricing for everyone in Glasgow in these challenging times.

The easiest way to support the Trust’s work is to join our Friends scheme. Our tiered loyalty scheme means you can choose the level that’s right for you.

Edward’s story

A DIFFERENT DIRECTION

Another day at the warehouse done. He’s a clerk, so there’s always lots of paperwork to get through and it requires great attention to detail. He’s a conscientious and well-organised individual though, so he enjoys it and the satisfaction he gets when a job is done well. 

He’s off to the Trades Hall tonight for a large temperance society meeting. He’s got gradually more involved with the temperance movement in the last few years and he took the pledge some months ago. He’s seen what the drink has done to his Dad and his pals over the years. He knows that for most of them it’s a way of dealing with the past trauma of their lives and the continuing hardships they face, but he’s decided to take a different path. 

"New Plan of Glasgow with Suburbs…showing the distribution of Public Houses, Licensed Grocers" - John Bartholomew, 1884

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

His temperance meetings give his life structure, and social opportunities too. In fact, he recently met a young lady called Agnes at one of the socials and they’ve been out a couple of times since. He thinks there’s potential for something long term. He’s out a few evenings a week now. It gets him away from the house, means he’s not under his folks feet. The place is too small for all of them really, and when his Dad gets in that morose frame of mind of his it’s better to get out and leave him to it. 

A PLACE OF HIS OWN

He’s thinking of getting himself lodgings elsewhere, but he’s not sure he can afford it. He pays keep to his Mum every week and he knows she relies on it when it comes to the finally balanced household finances. There’s been hints that he’s in line for a promotion at work, so if that comes off he’ll maybe be able to manage it, as he’d be able to get himself a room somewhere and also keep a bit by for his Mum each week. 

It’s chilly tonight, and he’ll admit the pubs look warm and inviting as he makes his way past. Blasts of noise from people enjoying themselves and having a sing song punctuate the evening air as people make their way in and out of the various venues. Part of him would love to head through a set of those doors himself, to settle down and have a wee dram. That’s the problem though, you have one and then another follows, and before you know it things are getting rowdy and trouble starts. He’ll keep his pledge, and stay focused on his future. He’ll take refuge at his meeting instead. 

OUR INSPIRATION

AN ABUNDANCE OF ALCOHOL

Jack S Blocker, in Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History, notes that a parliamentary report on drink related arrests between 1831 and 1851 found “Glasgow was three times more drunken than Edinburgh and five times more drunken than London”. There was certainly no shortage of places to obtain alcohol- around this time its estimated there was one liquor outlet for every 150 people. At one point Saltmarket was home to no less than 28 wine shops. 

Entertainment venues like music halls were often attached to a public house and drinking was allowed during performances. The mixture of songs, comedy and circus acts would have been welcome escapism for the working classes, who were often living in very poor conditions and in exhausting employment. 

TEMPERANCE TIME

Concern at the level of drunkeness in society led to the beginnings of the Scottish temperance movement. Its founding father was John Dunlop of Maryhill. Dunlop had established an anti-drinks society in 1829, which rather than advocating for total abstinence, suggested renouncing strong or ‘ardent’ spirits and fortified wine in favour of lighter wine and beer. Dunlop was outspoken against the ubiquitous presence of whisky at social gatherings such as weddings and Hogmanay, and believed it to be a cause of national deterioration. 

The Scottish Temperance League at first relied on propaganda and education to try and change attitudes towards alcohol, rather than legislative prohibition. However, some later took a harder line, supporting the tightening of licensing laws and even prohibition. 

THE PLEDGE

Those who joined the League were urged to make a pledge to abstinence in a church or at a temperance meeting. A report in the Glasgow Daily Herald on 16th February 1864 details the ‘bond of union’ for the Scottish Temperance League. “The League shall consist of such individuals as have already subscribed to the pledge of a total abstinence society requiring them neither to take nor give intoxicating liquors, or have adopted a pledge to that effect, and who annually subscribe to the funds of the League a sum not less than two shillings and sixpence”. Their stated objective was “the entire abolition of the drinking system”. Those who broke their promise would be named and shamed. 

In parallel to this a wholesome, drink-free culture was promoted. From the 1850s Abstainer’s Union concerts were popular and the Band of Hope provided social activities specifically for children. Tea rooms and coffee shops became an alternative to pubs. There were also temperance hotels, which aimed to provide people with the various amenities of a standard hotel, minus the alcohol. The Cranston family were well known temperance business owners. Robert Cranston had the first temperance hotel in Scotland, whilst Stuart Cranston had a chain of tea rooms. His sister Catherine later had several of her own tea rooms, the interiors of which were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. 

Saltmarket from Bridgegate 1868, Thomas Annan. Image: Annan Photography, Glasgow
City of Glasgow Adult Total Temperance Association certificate. Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums, OG.2831
George Cruikshank, “Fearful Quarrels and Brutal Violence are the Natural Consequences of the Frequent Use of the Bottle,” 1847

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

  • Explore Sulman’s map and find out more about some of the places Victorian Glaswegians would have frequented to socialise and be entertained, such as the Theatre Royal, the Britannia Music Hall and the Horse Shoe Bar.  
  • Explore John Bartholomew’s “New Plan of Glasgow with Suburbs…showing the distribution of Public Houses, Licensed Grocers..” via the National Library of Scotland website.

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Online Talk: 19th Century Retail and the Rise of the Department Store

Wednesday 8th December 2021 | 7.30pm GMT | via Zoom

Focusing on architecture, window displays, and internal design, this talk will examine how Glasgow department stores, like their Parisian counterparts, became spaces not just of spectacle, but also of manipulation and disorientation.

The Map

“I feel like a bird soaring over the city when I gaze upon Sulman’s map, every nook and cranny with every detail so exact.

I can see where I came from and where I’m at.”

Online Talk: Maps, Myths & Misrepresentations

Wednesday 12th January 2022 | 7.30pm BST | via Zoom

Not so long ago, the lofty peaks of the Benchichins Mountains could be seen between Angus and Deeside… or could they? Chris Fleet looks at various other things on maps that might never have been really out there, as well as how maps lie, distort the truth and miss things out. How far should we trust the map, and is this a good idea?

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