HOW many Times Past readers recall the Great Milk Theft of Gourley Street in Glasgow in the 60s?

It is not quite up there with the Great Train Robbery, perhaps, but it had all the neighbours talking, according to Eileen Hart, who lived nearby.

“Some families were fortunate enough to be able to afford to get their milk delivered from the milkman in the very early hours of the morning,” recalls the Springburn woman, who is preparing to write a book about growing up in the area. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing some excerpts from her reflections on Glasgow tenement life.

Glasgow Times: Eileen Hart who grew up in Springburn.Pic Gordon Terris Herald & Times

“There was a very poor household round the corner, a woman with loads ah weans, man hardly worked. Looking back, I wonder if perhaps the man wasn’t fit to actually do a day’s work. Who knows?”

Glasgow Times: A young Eileen Hart who grew up in Springburn. Pic Gordon Terris Herald & Times

Eileen adds: “Anyway, she used to hide up a close and peek out watching for the milkman as he did his rounds leaving the bottles of milk on the customers’ door mats.

“She would wait until he was out of sight and steal as many as she could carry, without making the tinkling noise of glass bottles hitting off each other. No mean feat.

“She was eventually caught - turns out she had been going to five or six different areas to do this, thinking it would look more random and she would be less likely to get caught.

“Poor woman must have been getting up at 3.30am.”

Glasgow Times: Milkman at work, Glasgow, c 1960s

She adds: “How do I know the details, as a mere child? Ma maw heard all about it in the dairy and told dad at the table one night, and ah heard it all…..”

Joking aside, says Eileen, it was not unusual to see a family evicted from their tenement home in those days.

“Terrible sight, but as children we just stood and gawped at the family out in the street with their worldly possessions in a heap on the pavement,” she says. “Rent arrears were usually the problem. The family just took their clothing as they had no money and no other way of moving their items; never mind the fact that they had nowhere to put them.

“I have no idea where these people went for shelter. Their furniture and household goods were left where they had been dumped and it was usually picked off by other families who needed stuff and if anything was left, the bin man took it away on his next round.”

There were happier times too, however, as Eileen recalls.

“We had a man came round the back courts singing,” says Eileen.

“He was a bit scruffy, in a well-worn black suit. He would stand in the middle of the back, holding a hat against his chest and sing. Some folk would pull up their window and throw a halfpenny or a penny down. Often a piece’n’jam would be all the householder could offer, so that would be thrown out the window, in a bit of bread wrapper to keep it clean.

“He would go around with the hat and collect the takings, then move on to the next back.

“The best back court entertainment I fondly remember though, is all the woman out the back on a sunny day. They would carry a chair out the house and sit at the rear closemouth to have a good old natter.

“The washing lines would be full and we would all be out playing ropes, taking turns at singing, and someone always appeared with a drink of water or a sweetie to dish out to us all.

“There was a man up our close played an accordion and a good old sing song would go on until the sun went down and we all went back into our houses.”

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She smiles: “Those memories have faded into the distance - but we can still bring them out our memory box, now and then, to enjoy.”

Do Eileen’s memories spark your own recollections of times past in Glasgow?

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