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.
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.