“ Authentic late 19th century Glasgow tenement flat „
The Tenement House is a National Trust property in Glasgow , in the Garnethill Area, the one thing that lets it down is the lack of directions to get there .
However once you get there it is well worth the visit , it really is like going back in time !!,
From the hiss of the gas lamps to the information supplied by the National Trust staff who are in the property and will happily answer any questions.
Upstairs is the flat that is kept as it was when it was occupied by the owner , down stairs is another flat which has a display of letters , cards and other items kept by the owner of the house , i will not say too much about them but there are a couple of letters that brought a tear to my eye !!.
the kitchen of the house is amazing especialy seeing the griddle above the fire and the stone , jars it really makes one wonder why we complain so much with all our modern applicances when you see what this lady had in her kitchen .. no fridge !!
I moved to the West End of Glasgow 6 years ago & live in a main door flat of a tenemant block. My flat has only been occupied by 4 sets of people including myself and when I moved in the original carpet was still in place. when I moved this carpet I found some newspaper from the early 1900s. It also seems that no-one stripped wallpaper over the years they have just papered over it.
Having never lived in a house older than those built in the 60s I find it fascinating to look into the history of how people lived back in Victorian times. My own flat was built in 1874 and its first occupiers were wealthy wine merchants. The kind of tenement flats that most people associate with Glasgow are not my kind but the old disease ridden 1 or 2 roomed slums.
I went to the tenement flat to catch a glimpse of how people may have lived in my own flat many years ago.
The history of the tenement flat is that a Miss Agnes Toward lived there for over 50 years from 1911. During that time she did little to renovate with the exception of getting electricity in in 1960. The national trust now owns this house as it gives a window into the past way of life in Glasgow. This tenement is actually an example of a 4 roomed house so is not typical of the hundreds/thousands of 1-2 roomed slums that existed in Glasgow at the time.
I was a wee bit disappointed at the size of this house, but that is purely from a selfish point of view; I wanted to see a replica of my own flat from the turn of the century! What was fascinating though was that things like the cast iron bath were very similar to my own and the wallpaper in the kitchen is exactly the same as that in my own kitchen (one of the layers anyway!) it was also really interesting to learn that my big cupboard in the living room would have house a bed in its day. My kitchen no longer contains its range cooker although the original larder & storage cupboards are exactly the same.
At £5 I thought it was quite an expensive entry when there are only 4 small rooms to look at; however I would still pay the same again to look around. For those people in Glasgow whose family lived in a tenement or still do for that matter then it really is an interesting way to spend an hour. Its free to NT members
What do you think of when you think of Glasgow. The wet weather, the incomprehensibly strung accent, the obsession with football or the fact that it can be a rough industrial working class city? Part of this makes me think of the tenements that I studied in my Scottish history degree. Those blocks full of cramped conditions, bad sanitation and breeding grounds for TB that were so fondly beloved of the Glaswegians. Those slum tenements may have long been cleared away to be replaced by the equally bad high rise flats on far flung council estates but the better class of tenement still survive, elegantly lining the streets of Glasgow with their wonderful red sandstone facades. The tenement is such a symbol of Glasgow's past the national Trust for Scotland owns such a house in Garnethill very close to the Sauchiehall Street area of the the city centre.
Number 145 Buccleuch Street is the Tenement House and is a fascinating slice of social history. This building on an ordinary Glaswegian street is like walking in time. The Tenement House dates back to 1892 and from 1911 to her death in the 1960s was the home of Miss Agnes Toward, a spinster who made her living as a short hand typist. The interior was found to be unchanged from the early part of the twentieth century with just about all its period features intact, by an actress and was then donated to the National Trust for Scotland to maintain and open it up for visitors.
The Tenement House is a property I have always meant to visit on my numerous trips to Glasgow, due to my love and expertise of Scottish Social History but until this visit I have never got round to doing so . I'm glad I visited this time as its great wee gem and a good way to pass an hour when in the glorious city of Glasgow.
Arriving at the door of the tenement block I climbed up into the stair well or the close as it is known. There are stairs so this may not be suitable for disabled people or those with buggies. We were given a wonderful welcome by the receptionist selling the tickets and we managed to get in free due to my friends National Trust for Scotland card. For those that do not have one the charges are not too bad for the calibre of the property but may seem a little bit expensive if just whizzing round. An adult ticket is £5 whilst a family £14 and a one parents family £10. It is not clear on the website if a concession at £4 is a child, student or old age pensioner.
Once we had our tickets we headed upstairs to Miss Towards tenement flat where we had to pull the old fashioned brass door bell. However this was a little unsecured and it embarrassingly came out in my hand! The flat itself was not as small as I imagined. I had read a lot about (often large) families living in a room and kitchen or the famous single ends(single rooms where a family would sleep, eat, cook and bathe). This flat seemed to be in a more genteel area and more luxurious having four rooms consisting of a kitchen, bedroom and more impressively bathroom and parlour.
Working antil clockwise the first room you get to is the original 1892 bathroom. I had read all about outdoor toilets shared by three or four families and trips to slipper baths in the swimming pool so I was surprised to see a lovely deep bath, sink and toilet with a wonderful wooden seat and high cistern. The one thing that had been replaced was the gas meter as electric lighting had been bought in in the 1960s but the National Trust had restored the original gas lighting. I was fascinated by the little details such as the employ bottles of toiletries lining the bathroom window.
Next was the kitchen with its original range, pulley and a cute little over the sink ringer rather than the big free standing mangles I have seen in so many social history museums. What set it apart from me was the box bed set in a recess in the wall. Whilst Miss Toward lived with her widowed dressmaker mother and lodger (latterly by herself) these tenement flats would often be home to much larger families and the box bed in the lovely warm kitchen would have been a cosy bed especially shred with other siblings.
Across the hallway from the kitchen lay the best room the parlour. I loved the way the table was laid out with afternoon tea complete with best china, panscones and other delicious looking morsels. I also loved the fireplace with the wally dugs (those ugly but now kitsch china dogs that everyone used to have)alongside other treasures. Just by the fireplace was the 1892 posh Tenement House version of the Iphone, a servants bell, as it was seen as social climbing to have one even if they did not have a servant (often there was a maid of works, a young girl who would come in rather than live there). The other fascinating thing was a cupboard bed a box bed with a door to it so it was hidden. These were regulated in the early 1900s, due to the high incidence of TB in Glasgow (this was a fact i did not know so i was glad I learned something from my visit). The final room was less interesting being the bedroom.
I felt one of the Tenements House's biggest strengths was the staff. They were friendly and very knowledgeable and very able and willing to answer any questions put to them. It was also interesting that one of the ladies had grown up in a similar tenement flat so was able to give a personal dimension to her information that made it feel less remote and distant.
After a look round the tenement flat it was a trip back downstairs to explore the exhibition area, which provided a good overview on tenement living alongside special exhibitions from Miss Towards personal collection. Whilst we weere there there was a display on entertainment including theatre and cinema progrms she had kept from the 1930s.
The Tenement House was busy but not too crammed during our visit on a Saturday afternoon in August. I think we spent around about an hour in the attraction. Just be warned the Tenement House is only open March to October in the afternoons one until five. The other thing to keep in mind is that there are limited facilities at the Tenement House. There is a disabled toilet with baby changing facilities and a small shop selling the usual books and old fashioned sweets but that is all. There is no tea shop and no audio tour. I am not sure about the parking provision as I traveled to the attraction by public transport.
I would recommend the Tenement House if you are in Glasgow City Centre and have a spare hour to fill. I would especially recommend this attraction paired with a visit to the People's Palace on Glasgow Green to give you a good insight into how the ordinary Glaswegians lived in the early part of the twentieth century.
145 Buccleuch Street
Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley
Telephone : 0844 4932197
The Tenement House is an authentic 19th Glasgow tenement house, the home, for over fifty years, of Miss Agnes Toward, an ordinary lady who kept all sorts of things others would have thrown away.