…1950s back court tenements in Docklands Govan in Glasgow were awesome places…

……it was a different landscape back in the 1950s in the big cities of the UK… Docklands Govan in Glasgow, where Master Gallacher spent his infancy, had more than its share of rented tenement housing… up to three-storeys-high, grey, austere, stone buildings, sum’times red, depending on the material available when the corporation developed them in the latter part of the 1800s…

…by the time I poked my nose into the WURLD, much of the fabric of the municipal edifices in Govan had fallen into slum condition… that didn’t stop us children from enjoying playing in the them… no hint of the modern kids’ panoply of mobile gizmos to entertain ourselves… there was no money for such luxuries, even if they had been available… these handheld indulgences were for an age some sixty years in the future… gangs of thirty or forty street-boys and girls mixed easily to flail long skipping ropes, usually ‘cawed’ by the biggest lads, one or more at either end, while a snake-line of us jumped in and out to skipping rhymes… this was on the main street, where vehicles of any kind were a rarity, other than the coalmen’s carthorses… but the real magic treasure-land existed in the back courts… the areas inside the huge, oblong, joined-up length of the houses…

…there were the brick ‘middens’ (the communal garbage areas)… additionally, usually down the middle of the back court, brick walls… and iron poles here and there served as the stanchions for the drying of the family laundry, with ropes spread in a way that made it dangerous to run through there on a dark evening, with the threat of having your neck caught on a clothesline… happened to me once, and it almost tore my throat out… endless to say, I never ran there again in the dark… on top of the stone-dyke walls, sum’ times there were slanted slates, the ‘sharpies’, which we intrepid junior explorers would traverse with ease in our rubber-soled plimsoll sandshoes…

…jumping from the top of one brick ‘midden’ to a nearby wall and back again had varying degrees of difficulty (and the danger of injury), but hey, we played adventure roles there, doubling as Captain Kidd or sum’such other hero from the Saturday matinee movies… we played ‘kick-the-can‘… we played ‘peever’ with used Cherry Blossom polish tins filled with wee stones, and chalk marks on the roadway… we played singing games with one or two rubber balls bounced up against the tenement walls… and when the rain came, which was often, the dirt in the back courts transformed into glorious mud, fabulous oozing ‘glabber’, that great sculpting material for wee boys and girls to create castles and stuff… at the same time changing clean clothes into laundry nightmares for our mothers…

…sum’people often misguidedly refer to those times as the ‘bad old days’… they were NUTHIN of the sort… to me they were, and always will be remembered as, among the best days of my life… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

26 responses to “…1950s back court tenements in Docklands Govan in Glasgow were awesome places…

  1. janewj

    wonderful photographs. Enjoyed reading this x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Francis

    And nobody felt poor, because there was nothing else to compare to.
    That back court looks very much like the one I played in behind Greenfield Street about 1960.
    Very evocative photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Grew up in similar surroundings in Yorkshire and yes, innocent, dangerous (a bit) but precious memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m still learning about this area and I enjoyed this Seumas. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Where I live, in a rurual village and away from the traffic, the kids play out in the street and up towards a playground. Fabulous. Great start for a happy life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chic Stewart

    Seamus is the last photo of Shannon Street or the one up from it there was a cafe on the corner

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Seumas, great lasting memories of the good ol’days! I’ve got my own in a small town, rural Maine back in the 40s. Freedom to play, and everyone had enough to live on! (sigh) Miss all of that! 😞 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great photos showing life in a different way. It is great to hear the
    account of life there from a child’s point of view. You were loved and had just about enough to eat and your imagination built a haven.

    The oozing ‘glabber’ makes me smile. Your mothers were probably less enchanted when you returned in this coating. 😊 .


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great photos to remember by, Seumas. I’ve read many children today are not left to just play outside with others, especially in the U.S. One of my greatest joys was going outside to play with my friends. Today there’s a fear of children being stolen. It’s so sad. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ahhhh what fun we had as children..no phones and scary peeps just open fields, muddy streams and trees to climb…Different from yours but no less fun and love and always a hot meal 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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