FROM the end of the Second World War, the history of Glasgow is one of continual economic decline. A boom straight after 1945 petered out as some of the unsolved industrial problems from before the war, especially bad relations between management and workers, caught up with a city whose people had made so many sacrifices in the struggle against Nazism. Now, when companies close down, they close down for good.

The Evening Times and the rest of what had been a flourishing array of rival newspapers could not escape this basic pattern. They maintained what seems a surprisingly high circulation into the 1950s and 1960s. Because old reading habits died hard. But new media constantly arrived on the scene.

Reading a newspaper means the eye cannot wander off to fix its gaze on some other object. But television tends to shut out any different activity as the viewer slumps in front of the set, all the more so if the whole family is gathered round. By the end of the 20th century, new media of ever-growing sophistication were drawing the young folk away, opening up to them a world of entertainment and information far beyond what any newspaper could match. Today, much of the population engages first of all with digital technology for the needs of everyday life. Newspapers lost their old empire, and are still seeking a new one.

All the same, the Evening Times made some memorable contributions to everyday life in the post-war period. More and more the media were organised on a UK basis, which meant they paid little attention to cities such as Glasgow, far away from London and with an ethos of its own, a distinct social structure and a local culture strong in everything from literature to sport. Here was where the Evening Times could retain a role.

The paper’s old Unionist politics were toned down. Right up to the General Election of 1955, the Unionists were capable of winning a majority of Scottish MPs. And the Evening Times still urged its readers to vote for them. But the majority was lost in 1959 and never regained. In the course of time, Labour won complete political control of Glasgow and exerted an iron grip which appeared unbreakable. But the regime grew domineering and complacent and in the end collapsed.

The SNP established a minority status in the west of Scotland from the 1960s, with victories in parliamentary by-

elections at Hamilton and Govan, but only a handful of seats on Glasgow City Council. A breakthrough had to await the General Election of 2015. These were perilous conditions for newspapers trying to work out what line they should take without annoying sections of their readership. The Evening Times has grown less partisan than it used to be.

The paper appeared in its most Glaswegian guise in its columnists. Jack House was for several decades a key part of the success of the Evening Times. He was known to the public as Mr Glasgow because of his endless knowledge about the city and its history. In an interview in 1989, he recalled: “I’m the only man who has walked round the perimeter of Glasgow twice.”

Glasgow Times: Jack HouseJack House

Jack never owned a car, so he travelled widely by bus. A fellow columnist, Jack Webster, said in an obituary: “His public travelling contributed to the fact that he was such a kenspeckle figure in his native city. Bus conductors knew him, news vendor hailed him.”

Another columnist, Jack McLean, recalled how his parents had been in a Glasgow restaurant after the war, arguing who should have the steak and who should have the Welsh rarebit. In the regime of rationing at the time, that was all they could get. But the city’s best-known character was at the next table. He leaned across and said: “I noticed your dilemma and I have wanted to say this all my life – this is on the House.”

The Scotland of that era remained a male chauvinist country. In trades needing an apprenticeship or in professions requiring a qualification, it was hard for women to get a start. On the papers, editorial chairs and newsrooms were all occupied by men. At best, the journalistic world admitted there was a domestic sphere it might be worth covering, mostly concerning fashion and cooking, which it would be best for women to write about themselves. Male journalists thought it beneath them.

But one woman journalist who began to break this mould was the Evening Times’s Meg Munro. In the dawn of feminism, she began to inquire into more serious matters of interest to women readers, especially because a sexual revolution could be glimpsed on the horizon. But a lot of groundwork had still to be done in Glasgow before anybody could speak of liberation.

The 1960s were, all the same, a time when many of the old social taboos were starting to be broken, eventually allowing a permissive society to emerge – in Glasgow, not always with the approval of the city fathers and sometimes against their active opposition.

All the media needed to tread carefully, but one way of dealing with the difficulties was through humour. The Evening Times began featuring a daily cartoonist, Willie Gall, whose “Gall’s Grin” proved to be a big hit with the readers.

Glasgow Times: Gall's GrinGall's Grin

Despite every effort to innovate and keep abreast of a fast-changing Scotland, the Evening Times could not escape the fate of the rest of the country’s press as it was overtaken by social and technological developments it found itself ill-equipped to deal with. As circulations declined, it was hard to maintain the same quality of editorial output.

But of course, the newspaper industry is capable of innovation too, which may enable it to redefine its role for readers who are nowadays often more demanding in their specialised interests. Glasgow is a good place for this. Glaswegians remain local patriots, especially as the city has once again been redefining itself, this time as a centre for the advances of the digital age.

On the old Evening Times, it is time for a relaunch. The first appearance of the Glasgow Times tomorrow will preserve in half its title one link with the past, but with the other half, it will renew local roots that have plenty of life in them yet.