IT’S the cheeky face being pulled by a little girl, and the joy of the boys walking home from a football game. It’s the woman in the Schweppes factory, the workers at the fish market, the construction teams putting bridges into place and the demolition crews pulling buildings down.

Amateur photographer Eric Watt’s pictures capture the heart and soul of Glasgow and its people, telling the story of a city evolving through the decades with humour, spirit and warmth.

And they are bound to spark a few memories for anyone who grew up here in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Eric’s images are to be celebrated in a brand new book called Coming Into View, published by Glasgow Museums.

Social history curator Isobel McDonald explains: “We are so lucky to have this fantastic collection. My colleague Alison Brown got to know Eric very well through her work at Scotland Street Museum and after his death, his family offered to donate thousands of his prints and slides to us.

“Cataloguing them has taken years, but we have had the fantastic help of Tom Doherty, who knew Eric from Queen’s Park Camera Club.”

She adds: “What’s interesting about these images is that they document the city changing over time. We do have other collections, which capture Glasgow at a particular moment, or how it was over a certain year, but Eric’s photos show how life in the city, its buildings, its people, the way they dressed and the jobs they did, for example, have changed over the decades.

“And it’s all done in a humorous and fascinating way.”

Eric “just loved to take photos” says Isobel.

Glasgow Times:

“He loved walking the streets, looking for something interesting, unexpected or amusing - he was happy to look through an open door or around a corner in search of something to catch his eye, and he seized the moment whenever possible,” smiles Isobel.

“His images are generally taken in public spaces, showing us things that anyone could have seen, if they had been looking.”

Eric lived on the south side of Glasgow, a keen photographer since he was given his first camera at the age of 13. He joined Queen’s Park Camera Club in 1958 and remained an active member all his life.

Initially, he worked for Schweppes as a chemist, first in Glasgow and then in Newcastle, before returning to the city to take up a post as a science teacher at Woodfarm High School in Thornliebank.

The introduction to Coming Into View explains: “Eric’s early photographs document the areas of Glasgow which he could reach on foot from the family flat in Pollokshields, such as the Gorbals, Kinning Park or Tradeston.

“Later on, he purchased his first car, and the whole city lay open for him to explore.”

Glasgow Times:

Eric’s 1963 photograph of boys playing football in the partly demolished Laurieston landscape, with the Gorbals grain mills on Surrey Street in the background, captures the changing face of Glasgow as it transformed itself after the Second World War.

Isobel explains, in her foreword to the book: “In 1954, the year that Eric returned to Glasgow after National Service, the city was on the brink of change.

“Glasgow’s infrastructure – housing, transport and industry – was still essentially Victorian; however in the aftermath of World War II, there was a desire to transform the city and the lives of its citizens.

“Glasgow was to become a modern city. The slum dwellings for which it was infamous were to be replaced by pristine housing schemes offering citizens a higher standard of living (the new high-rise Queen Elizabeth square flats in Hutchesontown, south of the river, were photographed by Eric several times.)

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“However, the massive overcrowding problems in areas such as the Gorbals meant that much of the new housing would be built on the edges of the city or even beyond the city, and the people moved out to it.

“Transport would be revolutionised by the construction of new road systems reaching right into the heart of the city, prioritising motor transport over older systems such as trams.

“The price to be paid for these developments would be the loss of many traditional neighbourhoods and period buildings (for example, Eric documents the demolition of the Grand Hotel at Charing Cross in advance of the new M8 motorway.)

Glasgow Times:

“And during all these years of transformation, Eric was quietly documenting his city.”

Isobel describes the collection as a ‘treasure trove’ for curators from many disciplines.

“It is a great resource for Glasgow Museums – we use it to illustrate and tell the story of everyday life in the city during the later 20th century,” she says.

“Eric’s images have already been used in several of our museums and in outreach work by the Open Museum.

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“They are also fantastic for reminiscence projects and sparking ‘do you remember …’ conversations.”

When Eric staged his first exhibition in 2002, called Bairns and Backstreets, the Glasgow Evening Times gave it a glowing review.

“‘Until time machines are invented we have to be eternally grateful to the Eric Watts of this world,” wrote our reviewer, Brian Beacom.

“He’s a man who captured the soul of the city in the 50s and 60s. He’s a social historian who has a permanent record of a time where optimism fought fiercely against reality – and regularly won...these photos tell a story more vivid than any written account.”

*Do Eric’s photos spark memories for you? Get in touch to share your stories.