THEY represented the biggest change to housing in the city’s history – and changed lives forever.

Council house ‘schemes’ gave Glasgow’s citizens a chance to leave forever over-crowded, unhealthy slums and children – like this little lot playing on Rottenrow outside a ‘model dwelling house’ in the 40s – could enjoy space and fresh air.

The plans were not without problems, as Dr Irene O’Brien of Glasgow City Archives explains.

“The 1866 Improvement Act gave the Council powers to set up the City Improvement Trust, which bought up and demolished congested slums on a large scale,” she says. “But it took longer and was more expensive than planned.

“The first tenements built by the trust – at Saltmarket and Glasgow Cross - were ‘models’ to demonstrate to private builders what should be built and they were let to tenants who could afford the high rents.

“This did not tackle the housing of the poorest people, so from 1900 to 1914, the houses built were simpler and cheaper.”

Glasgow Times:

The UK Housing Act in 1919 meant local authorities had to provide working class housing with government subsidies.

The earliest sites, including Mosspark, Riddrie and Knightswood, were built under the Ordinary scheme which, as Dr O’Brien explains, was a misnomer.

“These were the elite of Glasgow housing stock, and with high rents, rarely housed the working classes,” she says. “A further act in 1923 enabled a large increase in the number of more affordable homes as rents were subsidised.”

Read more: Violent history of the castle on the Clyde

With the pressure on to provide affordable housing, the 1930s saw higher-density, less aesthetically-designed schemes appear.

“They were deliberately nearer the city centre than the earlier schemes, to be close to workplaces,” says Dr O’Brien. “Some of them were uncomfortably close to industrial premises like Blackhill, controversial because of its proximity to the Provan gas works.”

Glasgow City Archives hold the architectural plans for the City, including the housing schemes. While libraries remain closed, Dr O’Brien and the team – Nerys Tunnicliffe, Michael Gallagher, Barbara Neilson and Lynsey Green – are running Ask the Archivist, giving people a chance to ask questions about the collections. More information is available on Glasgow City Archives’ Facebook page.

Glasgow Times:

After WWII there was a renewed effort to rehouse those displaced by slum clearance. Glasgow’s first planning report, the Bruce Plan in 1945, proposed a rebuilt “healthy and beautiful city” with garden suburbs planned for the periphery.

These were dropped in favour of developments at Drumchapel, Easterhouse, Pollok and Castlemilk.

Read more: The Glasgow university student who became Scotland's first female minister

Luckily, one shocking plan did not go ahead...

“Some of Bruce’s more radical proposals included demolishing almost everything in the city centre and rebuilding from new - removing, for example, the School of Art, the City Chambers, Central Station and all the other period buildings,” says Dr O’Brien, adding with a smile:

“Luckily, these were not put into action…”

Glasgow Times:

Did you grow up in a Glasgow scheme? Share your stories and photos with Times Past by emailing or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG.