Wednesday 30 November 2022

Cambuslang and Castlemilk Day.



 Another trip out to Cambuslang, this time on a good day, and a hill and a park I'd not visited before.

Cambuslang Main Street is unusual in that the one side of it, facing south, consists of a long line of traditional stone tenements from the  late 1800s - early 1900s era with a similar long line of shops underneath similar to Byres road or Dumbarton Road in Partick or most other older town centre districts along with the usual collection of public buildings in the nearby back streets.

 Cambuslang Public School here, built in 1882, as you can see in the 2nd photo up.

 Cambuslang Institute.

 A beautiful period church just past Cambuslang train station but like a lot of churches no longer used for its original purpose.


The other side of the main street is completely different however, as you can see here in this distance shot. Not sure what stood here before, small industrial works maybe, but in the 1960s- early 1970s this side of the street was cleared to make way for a Le Corbusier style complex of high rise towers and lower level maisonette apartments.

Hi rise complex here.

 Swiss born architect Le Corbusier was very influential during that period and his idea of 'a radiant city where people would live like wine bottles stacked in racks' was all the rage, particularly in Glasgow. His original projects are still standing that he constructed in Europe, especially when occupied by young professional types and families without children between 5 and 30 years of age but scaled up to house many thousands of ordinary citizens on lower incomes with growing children many of these high rise estates built throughout the UK and inspired by this concept had a troubled existence before being abandoned and flattened for lower level housing.


This one seems to have fared better than it's Glasgow doplegangers, many of which have been demolished and are slowly fading from memory and history. ( Cambuslang comes under South Lanarkshire council, not Glasgow) As such it always looks well maintained with few signs of vandalism or graffiti.



A shopping centre hidden away on the modern side of Cambuslang Main Street.

The high life.



Cambuslang Main Street, facing north.

A comfortable bench/sculpture in 1960s style modern Cambuslang.... when concrete was a groovy material to work with. Dali's 'Soft Watches' painting comes to mind here. You can see a section of the traditional stone tenement style of Main Street in this one.


On the drive back to my house I stopped off at the start of King's Park Avenue as I realized I'd never been in Overtoun Park or Rutherglen Cemetery and both, being on hilltops would have good views. The main view from the Rutherglen Cemetery hilltop was of Castlemilk, one of Glasgow's big four council estates. all of them built around the 1950s and 1960s period when Glasgow still had close to one million citizens and a real shortage of new housing. 


Castlemilk and the Big Wood. Like Pollok and Drumchapel Castlemilk was constructed on the former grounds of large private estates with plentiful farmland attached and you can still see traces of it as you walk up the scenic Castlemilk Glen where the grand mansion of Castlemilk House once stood. Link here.

As a teenager I was not only fascinated by the history of all these areas but also by their current location. I had not visited or explored Castlemilk at that point but I had heard plenty of rumours about it as it was fairly notorious for gangs and wild times from the 1960s to the 1990s era. Going to Langside College during my apprenticeship I met a few classmates who came from this area and they invited me to hang out there on a couple of occasions. Always curious and keen to see new places I didn't need to be asked twice. Like Pollok and Drumchapel the various tenement housing clusters sat apart, separated by wooded gorges, rough uneven/ boggy ground or some other natural feature like a stream bed or pond that stopped continuous housing development end to end. So there was always plenty of nature around. Heaven... and hell... side by side.... And wild beyond belief. Castlemilk covers an area 12 times larger than the nearby King's Park or 12 times the size of Kelvingrove Park or Queen's Park. It's a sizable place. An area with a lot going on so it's never dull or boring. Not for a visitor anyway.


It's very different now of course, 50 years later, with a much more diverse and better constructed/ maintained/ refurbished variety of housing stock but back in the 1970s, when I first visited, if it was placed on a medieval map 'Here be dragons' would be marked across this rising slope in bold letters, or any of the other big four estates at that time, one at each corner of Glasgow. I've only explored or worked in Castlemilk around 30 times in total over the last five decades but every single time has been very memorable. Fascinating, impressive and exciting. A real thrill. The City of Glasgow and the Campsie Fells seen from Rutherglen, Overtoun Park, below.


 By the 1970s and 1980s Glasgow had some of the worst housing estates in Western Europe so you could say I was in the right place at the right time as I have hundreds of memories of trips and encounters back then... as exciting and terrifying as any rock climb or mountain day. With the bonus of being only a bus ride away. If you want to know what the tenements looked like then just type in Castlemilk. Glasgow. 1980s.  Long rows of identical four storey grey tenements climbing in rectangles and squares dancing up rising slopes like terraces in a football stadium. As the years and decades progressed, just like my own estate, more graffiti and vandalism occurred until by the 1980s and 1990s many houses and even entire streets lay empty and deserted, taking years to get knocked down. Once you accepted a house in one of these vast estates it could be very hard to get out again, thanks to the points system, so for many folk, myself included, after almost 30 of scheme/large housing estate life, a gradual disappearance of surrounding tenants and vacated buildings meant an escape route and a move elsewhere. I consider myself very lucky however to have seen estates like this one all over the UK within that time period as nothing like them exists today.... and they could be exciting. Modern day dragons. Yet even in the 1980s, the Thatcher decade of mass unemployment, heavy industry and local factory collapse, the rise of discredited trickle down economics and the austerity measures still in place today I do not recall any mention of food banks, not one... or of seeing dozens of rough sleepers in every town and city apart from a few older drunks floating around, as we still presumably retained a better level of public service infrastructure back then offering places where they could go. Before that too was dismantled or privatized. During my first apprenticeship year I received a wage of £8 a week yet many household items were far more expensive then than they are today, 50 years later. Televisions, cookers, fridges etc are probably cheaper now than they were then, compared to wages. Many times more in those days. I still have old paperback books marked £6.99 and 10.99, or £12 for CD's/DVD's which I bought 20- 30 years ago at full price brand new that I can now get second hand for 50 pence or one pound for six today. Most ordinary working class folk were poor, goods were very expensive, and many houses could only afford to heat one room in the winter months. No central heating either. Very few gadgets in rooms. Yet no food banks? even for households that didn't have any carpets, just lino, old rugs, or bare floorboards. Weird. ( Foodbanks only arrived in the UK around 2008 ish apparently.) Heating the house and car travel does seem more expensive now due to current fuel costs and staying somewhere once you get to your destination can be pricey but food, shoes, clothing and many other items, up until recently, was much cheaper. So how on earth did we manage to survive all those decades without food banks in every city, town and village? A complete mystery...



Cathkin, Fernhill, and the Cathkin Braes offer other walks/ housing schemes in this area and I've had many visits here as well over the decades. I remember a line in a film. 'The secret to a happy life is to find something you enjoy doing then pursue it over a lifetime or until you loose that thrill and discover something else.' I've never lost that thrill... which is just as well given that I've never had the disposable income for big exotic trips abroad anyway...or the inclination to go there.... when I could have five budget camping or backpacking trips around Europe for same price as one expensive trip further afield. Another secret to a happy life is to discover contentment and adventure in your own back yard....and make the most of what you do have.



Rosemary said...

I have also been having similar thoughts re: all of the food banks up and down the country, and all of the money currently being handed out by the Government. Money doesn't grow on trees so the answer will be paying far more tax. I also wonder why so many of the people who are interviewed say that they go without meals so that their children can eat, and yet they often appear to be over weight.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
money does seem to grow on trees for the right sort of people with the right contacts as in an extra £5 million a year for MP's with second jobs as 'advisors.' or Michelle Mone's £29 million as a thank you gift from the government. I suppose I can see both sides of the coin.
I'm being honest. Unless you are clever academically, have a great deal of drive and ambition, or have a real talent at sport or are business minded naturally most people from large council estates, myself included, are never going to amount to much and that realization can depress you. ( it doesn't depress me but I can easily see why it could.) Also your surroundings as to where you grow up can really affect your mood and also your attitude to life. Both my parents worked hard all their life in average jobs and never had much to show for it. Which probably affected how I viewed work and the old 'work hard, do well, and you will get your reward' claim somewhat cynically and attempted to find an alternative to that. I also think people have got used to having a lot of stuff, a decent lifestyle, and going into debt to pay for it. Growing up we didn't have very much but were used to that.
For the last few years I've been watching how much I spend, trying to save money, and getting by on £3000 pound a year. Due to petrol costs I rarely use the car or travel much outside my own local district. Consequentially, I watch a lot of TV and £1 box sets and read £1 books as going out anywhere costs money. I remember Jamie Oliver commenting that poor families had big TVs but I understand that as you need entertainment... and over a year it's cheaper than going out on trips, ( taking 2 adults and 2 children anywhere these days costs almost as much as a years TV licence so I get that choice of a TV entirely.)
Unfortunately, a lot of people these days eat very unhealthily from the plethora of fast food outlets everywhere and they can be cheaper and easier than buying and cooking healthy choices, plus, being indoors, watching telly, not exercising much and munching crisps out of boredom puts on weight. From my own experience I think people with a university education, inner drive to succeed or some other advantage do have a very different mindset as they do see if you study, work hard etc etc you do get positive and obvious rewards but a lot of ordinary people, in a very different situation, and mindset, no longer believe that. Doing 10,000 steps a day, eating healthily and looking after yourself only makes sense if you can see why it's a productive positive choice that benefits you doing that effort. Or as one older resident of a large council estate put it. 'If your life is really shit son, why the hell would you want to extend it?'
I remember thinking during the various pandemic lock-downs that it was mainly well off folk that would be affected the most as they were the ones that would be denied overseas travel, meals in restaurants, nights out, second home visits, etc but they would save a lot of money each time. Poorer folk, that never went anywhere anyway, including myself, would not be affected as much and might actually feel happy that everyone was in the same boat at last. Equally restricted. (though having kids to home school, keep entertained, or covid deaths etc would be an obvious downside to that.)

Anabel Marsh said...

I confess I have never been to Cambuslang so that was a bit surprising - I hadn’t realised it had so much “new”(ish) development. Your ruminations in the post and your answer to Rosemary make a lot of sense to me. The rot set in with Thatcher (well, I’m sure it was there before but that’s when I became politically aware). Looking out for number one, no such thing as society etc etc. But she looks almost benign compared to today’s lot.

Carol said...

"I also think people have got used to having a lot of stuff, a decent lifestyle, and going into debt to pay for it."

Never understood that mentality myself as you will end up paying twice the price for things. I never pay more than the initial asking price so wouldn't even consider a loan except for a mortgage which you can't really buy a house without.

But I agree that people being overweight but short of money is largely because they eat rubbish instead of making their own meals. Since I've felt the financial pinch, I've been making things like 3 day slow cooker veggie stews (ones which take 3 days to eat, not cook!)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
Myself and my university educated English friend were just talking about successive Conservative governments over the past 50 years selling off at rock bottom prices or privatizing most UK assets to 'balance the books'( which never seem to balance out anyway) and endlessly funneling money from the base of the pyramid to the power elite at the top as a right wing, totally discredited ideology (if you give money to the very rich the poor eventually benefit in some sort of gold to lead alchemy) yet we were both disgusted and puzzled as to why folk keep voting them in, especially after recently crashing the economy.
Mind you, I'm also baffled why a large number of Americans support Donald Trump when it's equally obvious, even to a cave fish, and has been from the start that the only person Donald trump cares about helping is himself and other billionaire friends... but especially himself.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I did buy a £28 slow cooker from lldi's middle aisle recently but I can't see me using it much. By the time 7 to 10 hours has past the mood or hunger levels have usually changed 2 or 3 times... or I'll forget about it and burn it. I'd rather save money by living in a cold house so I can have quick tasty meals when I want them. By quick I mean I cook them myself... not takeaways.
Even money expert Martin Lewis recommended sleeping bags as a good way to save on heating bills. Mind you I was in an overnight bothy recently and my £15 3 season bag was fine for the house but sadly lacking in heat near the snow line at zero degrees O:(

Anonymous said...

Well you have to plan ahead with a slow cooker. I have to soak the pulses a day in advance along with the soya chunks and then I have to wait a further day for the stew to cook. But when it does, it lasts 3 days (my slow cooker is tiny - if you had a bigger one you could freeze some portions). I turn it off for the first night's meal and then just microwave the remainder the next 2 nights for 2 minutes each. So it's a quick tea for 3 nights but a bit of preparation beforehand...