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Pathfinder Pack on Housing, 1850 - 1875

Pathfinder Pack has Narrative
 

Introduction

The second half of the Nineteenth century saw greater improvements in the living conditions of the working class. More housing associations were set up, and the passing of the 1866 'City Improvement Act' gave the local authorities power to build as they demolished. It was a precondition of this act that housing already existed for the people who were displaced.

Housing, 1850 - 1875

In 1855, the Glasgow & South Western Railway moved its main repair workshops from a cramped site in Glasgow to a much larger complex on the outskirts of Kilmarnock, and built several blocks of houses for their employees. They were typical of much Nineteenth-century industrial housing, with four two-room houses in each unit, the upper ones reached by external stairs. There were wash-houses and privies on the right. The photograph on the left shows one of the blocks during demolition in 1966.

Railway workers' homes
Railway workers' homes

This housing was built from about 1863 for the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway as a model community for the enginemen and skilled artisans working in their works and running sheds at Cowlairs, a short distance to the west. There were turnpike stairs on the lower side leading to the dwellings on the top level. The doors on this side lead to what appear to be the ground-floor houses. There was a basement with wash houses, coal cellars and privies accessible from the other side. These houses were advanced for their date, and also remarkable for the monumental baronial architectural treatment.

Enginemen and artificers homes
Enginemen and artificers homes

In cities, spacious new tenements were built to a higher standard than before, to attract wealthier residents to new areas, well away from the overcrowded poorer areas and heavy industry.

Minerva Street was built in 1856-8 as part of the Stobcross area development. These Classical four-storeyed tenements show how elegant this type of housing can be.
This photograph shows the graceful curving 12-bayed section, with its giant Corinthian pilastrade which extends over two floors. The arcaded lower floors were used as shops at the northern end of the street.

City tenements
City tenements

In the 1860s, associations to provide houses for the skilled working classes were gathering strength.

These are some of the 'Articles of Association' of the 'Edinburgh Co-operative Building Company Limited', which was going to acquire house property and ground, and then build new houses on them. The founders of the 'Edinburgh Co-operative Building Company' were influenced by ministers of the Free Church of Scotland, especially the Reverend Dr. James Begg and the Reverend Dr. Thomas Chalmers. These ministers campaigned to improve the housing conditions of the poor. The overcrowded houses in which the poor lived were also attracting a lot of attention at this date, as reformers felt the housing conditions were linked to the high mortality rates.

Co-operative building companies
Co-operative building companies

The photograph on the left is of the prospectus of the Dundee 'Working Men's Houses Association', whose object was to enable men of the working class to provide themselves with commodious dwelling-houses at a moderate cost. The Association was modelling itself on the 'Edinburgh Co-operative Building Society', which had been highly successful. The Company was hoping to sell the houses for between eighty and one hundred pounds. This prospectus also included a speech delivered by the Rev. Dr Begg of Edinburgh, on "Working Men's Houses and the Advantages of Building Societies".

Working men's houses
Working men's houses

The back of high tenement at the corner of Saltmarket and Princes Street, on the left. A line of 'jawboxes', sinks for waste water, projects form the Princes Street building. Part of the ground floor of the Saltmarket building has been whitewashed, perhaps as part of public health measures to prevent fever. The close is cobbled and a large group, mostly of men and boys, watches the camera. There are a couple of girls holding babies in the middle foreground. These photographs were taken for the 'City Improvements Trust' who, in the 1860s, planned to demolish the worst of the decayed city centre.

City Improvement Trusts
City Improvement Trusts

Balmoral Place was begun by the Edinburgh Co-operative Building Company in the 1870s. The Company went on to build houses on another ten sites in Edinburgh. In the first ten years of the company's existence it built and sold over a thousand homes.

The Colonies
The Colonies

The next item is a newspaper report of the death of Robert Owen, now famous for the improvements he made to the lives and working conditions of those who lived and worked in New Lanark.

This political text begins: 'This is a curious Article on Socialism, extracted from the Glasgow Weekly Dispatch, and the reader cannot help but be amused at the death of the Founder of that System'. Robert Owen was born into the large family of the saddlemaker Robert Owen in 1771, in Montgomeryshire, Wales. Owen's enduring fame is due to his socialist beliefs, most fully and clearly expressed in his village of New Lanark, Scotland. Although never taken particularly seriously, Owen enjoyed the friendship and patronage of a wide base of royalty, reformers, statesmen, politicians and activists.

Housing and politics
Housing and politics
Scran ID: 000-000-001-408-L
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