Was brought up in a single end tenement in Glasgow on Lugton street. Lived on one landing and then went down half a landing to get to the single toilet. There was one toilet for one family. Inside the tenement was a black sink made of rough stone, possibly basalt. It wasn’t a belfast sink. She moved with her Mother and Father to another flat with a room and a kitchen just before her brother was born.
Annie worked as a bookkeeper at the Co-op. People used take a list into the Co-op and then a boy came out with the groceries. Also worked for Frasers Garage as a wages clerk. The garage sold vans, cars and engines for small boats. Annie remembers a one day apprentices’ strike and it affected the whole of Clyde. It was a waste of time and did not succeed. She went swimming!
In the 1950s she went to night school to do her A’Levels. She then taught primary school for three or four years but didn’t like the organisation. During this time there was 70 % unemployment. Clothing was very poor. There was a song called Nobody’s Child which came out at that time. She worked for a time at the Glasgow Assistance Board (GAB) teaching people how to fill in the unemployment forms.
Nobody’s child You-Tube clip of the composer and singer Hank Show performing the song.
“This site was created by members of the Shettleston History Project. From September 2005 the group has been researching the history of Shettleston and the experiences of the people who live and work there. It was decided to put together a website to showcase the work the group has done since forming. “ Shettleston is a district in the East End of Glasgow. Here is a set of links on the Shettleston History Project to other sites related to Glasgow tenement life.
National Trust Tenement House in Glasgow
“The Tenement House is an authentic 19th-century Glasgow tenement house and was the home, for over 50 years, of Miss Agnes Toward, an ordinary lady who kept all sorts of things others would have thrown away.”
On the website is a series of photographs of the inside of the flat. It seems to be at the upper end of tenement life compared the stories like Annie’s above.
She started work at the age of 14 in 1932. The apprenticeship lasted 5-6 years. The workshop was based in the Oak Street Area. She worked with a tailor’s dummy. The older men in the trade had started work back in the 1870s and 1880s. Most people lived into their 70s. The tailors worked in basements which were very cold and damp. Basements were found at the bottom of stone stairs. They worked with a continual electric light. Many of the tailors sat cross-legged on a long table so they were able to work closer to the light. The kilt makers sat on the long table with the cloth draped around them and off the floor. The sewing machines were treadle and not electric. People came into the workshop where there were dressing rooms. Most of the customers were Jewish. The workshop also made Red Cross uniforms
and this meant that when World War 2 started Isabella wasn’t called up immediately. She did eventually join the Civil Nursing Reserve at Bangour Hospital for burns for her training. She had a year in Edinburgh in a hospital fro geriatric medicine. She then went on to serve two years in Gogarburn, just out of Edinburgh.
Her family lived in a building called a stair off Murchison Grove. It was a tenement which was a very tall building. Their building was a pleasant place to live.
There are many images from the Grimm’s Fairy tale story of the Valiant Little Tailor sitting on his table sewing in the way that Isabella describes in her memory above.
Before and After video of Bangour Hospital- film contains a series of archive images and up-to-date images of the same scenes. With a simple search there are many pictures on the web of the hospital site which seems to be a favourite place to explore now it is closed.
Singer model 27, drawing of treadle table from its instruction manual. This machine dates from 1896.