This 'time capsule' tenement is hidden in the heart of Glasgow. 

Built in their thousands to accommodate the booming Victorian population, the tenement epitomises ordinary, everyday life in Glasgow. Their red and blonde sandstone bricks have become synonymous with the city.

While many were demolished in the mid-20th century to make way for more modern housing, many have also survived.

The interiors have changed significantly over the years, except in one ‘time capsule’ tenement on Buccleuch Street.

Glasgow Times:

At first glance, it looks like any other red sandstone tenement in Garnethill. But when you step inside, the Tenement House appears exactly as it was in the early 20th century.

With gas lights, box beds, an old stove, horsehair chairs and even a bar of soap that has turned black from years of use, the Tenement House is a museum showcasing everyday life in a Glesga tenement.

The rooms have been restored and preserved with its original fittings to emulate a typical Victorian tenement home, known for its large apartment-style structure and communal entrance.

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow Times: The parlour in the Tenement HouseThe parlour in the Tenement House (Image: Archive image. Newsquest.)

While the Buccleuch Street property was seen as a more ‘luxurious’ abode - with four rooms, gas lighting and an inside toilet - not all tenements were as enjoyable to live in.

Toilets and washrooms were shared by all the residents and living so closely together in this way often created ‘slum’ conditions in the tenements. This, along with poor maintenance led to the mass demolition of many tenement buildings in places such as the Gorbals.

Glasgow Times:

At the height of its overcrowding, around 100,000 people are thought to have lived in one square kilometre of the Gorbals. Practically all the tenements were cleared in the 1960s to make way for tower blocks.

This particular tenement on Buccleuch Street was home to Agnes Toward and her mother. She kept all her furniture, personal belongings, and even everyday household items that many of us would throw away, like toiletries and cooking utensils.

Glasgow Times: Miss Agnes TowardMiss Agnes Toward (Image: Archive image. Newsquest.)

With a ‘waste not, want not’ attitude adopted during the war, many of the food items in Miss Toward’s cupboards, such as spices, were used for years. There remains a large collection of jam jars, as she used to make her own, including a jar of plum jam she made in 1929 and an unopened orange marmalade dating from 1941.

All of this contributes to the museum today, giving us an authentic image of what life was like in a typical tenement.

Beyond Miss Toward’s living quarters, the neighbouring apartment is home to a vast collection of her handwritten letters.

Glasgow Times:

While the home aptly represents city living in the era, the decision to use Miss Toward’s home was a conscious choice, as she lived and worked independently at a time when it was unusual for a woman to do so.

Miss Toward and her mother moved into the house in 1911, and she worked as a shorthand typist during the war while her mother was a dressmaker.

Initially, she thought she would have to give up her job when the men returned from the front. Remarkably, she was kept on until she retired at the age of 73.

Glasgow Times: Agnes TowardAgnes Toward (Image: Archive image. Newsquest.)

The idea to immortalise Miss Toward’s life in a museum came after her death in 1973 when her family lawyer and his niece, Anna Davidson, thought it would be a waste to sell or change her perfectly maintained home.

It eventually went into the care of the National Trust of Scotland, who look after it and run it as a much-loved Glasgow tourist attraction every day.

Have you been ‘back in time’ to the Tenement House?