Glasgow is a fascinating city which changed dramatically over the 20th Century. Luckily, filmmakers and photographers captured daily life and cityscapes so we can now enjoy looking back at local history scenes there.
The City Through The Decades
By today’s standards, scenes of children playing in rubble and rubbish strewn courtyards looks horrifying. But take a look at the comments under the video – life was hard, but people look back with nostalgia.
The photos capture the smiling faces of the children playing outside, and the grinding poverty that awaited them indoors.
A series of photographs showing different streets and locations, each clearly labelled.
The Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 was unofficially known as the British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow. Held at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, from May to December 1938, it marked fifty years since Glasgow’s first great exhibition, the International Exhibition (1888) held at Kelvingrove Park.
Kings, queens, international stars were amongst the 13.5 million visitors – three times the number who came to see the Garden Festival in 1988!
This video (which appears to be from the 1990s) starts with the Exhibition and then moves through the following decades as architects in offices decided the best way to deal with historic buildings was to knock them down and replace them with giant roads.
Into The 20th Century
Filmed in April 1901 by Mr Thomas, this captured Glasgow’s most important central street at a time of horses and carts. Even the double decker passenger vehicles are pulled by horses! Given the large number of people and vehicles, it’s surprising how well the traffic flows, and how few women appear.
Finally, we see a large crowd of employees marching in a parade.
The women’s skirts are above the ankles so this looks to be somewhere around the end of the Great War (World War I).
The trams now run on electricity and cars are present, but many horses and carts still appear. One man is riding a bicycle in the middle of the road. The pavements are full of people.
The opening title declares “Glasgow, Centre of Scotland. A city of fine buildings and wide streets”.
- George Square
- Municipal Building
- Kelvingrove Park and The Art Galleries
- Glasgow University
Templetons factory, Glasgow Green and the Peoples Palace are just some of the locations which appear in this silent black and white film.
Mr Ernest Brown, Secretary of State for Scotland, inspects home guardsmen drawn up on parade ground. A glimpse of the policeman trying to shuffle children back is amusing.
Outside the Polling Station. Possibly for the 1945 General Election, especially as two men are wearing uniforms. As the day wears on the number of children hanging around increases. Some very interesting characters on screen. It’s clear the camera man liked the pretty nurses!
Silent, black and white footage. Hundreds of pedestrians, many horses still in amongst the traffic.
Elegant old cars driving or towed into the smoggy streets.
Almost a tale of two cities. The ‘smart’ city of elegant buildings and leafy open spaces. Over the bridge, tenements and groups of small children.
Silent 35mm film clips from the 1960s.
Old Glasgow, Rare film 1963
A film which manages to look back at the city’s history while also capturing a glimpse of contemporary life in 1963.
On 15 January 1968 a hurricane ripped through Central Scotland. Three hundred Glaswegian homes were destroyed, and a further 70,000 damaged. Half of the city’s council housing stock received damage and residents fled from the swaying tower blocks.
The film mentions the death of at least 18 people, though it’s thought a total of 18 people died repairing their homes.
Shipyard cranes, cars, trees and streets were all badly affected.
Silent colour footage from British Pathé.
It’s quite right to give these photos the title ‘amazing’. They are.
French photographer, photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Raymond Depardon won the César Award for Best Documentary, César Award for Best Short Film – Documentary, Louis Delluc Prize for Best Film and nominated for the San Marco Prize, Upstream Prize – Special Mention, and Upstream – Special Jury Award.
The narrator introduces this as a film of his 1987 holiday to his hometown. Lots of locations with commentary, and interviews. Nice to see the market scenes, a look at genuine daily life.
Buses and pedestrians going about their daily business.
A home video with commentary made for a penpal.