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> Pleasures Of Tenement Life!
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Rab-oldname
post 25th Nov 2008, 07:08pm
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I had already posted most of this text in the 'Glasgow District' section as I was not aware of this one. I have therefore extracted some bits for posting here. You will have to excuse the fact that it is not in Glasgow, but my Renfrew home would have fitted anywhere in our region. Here goes .......

When I was a small boy made homeless by bombing in Glasgow, in 1945 I came to live in the Burgh with my mother and brother as my father was at sea. We lived in a tenement in Tennant Street, only a few hundred yards from the famous Renfrew Ferry - not Yoker Ferry as the Bankies liked to call it!

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Our home was a typical 2 room flat with what my Mum snootily called 'The Hall' joining the 'Kitchen' and the 'Bedroom'. At the rear, there was a small scullery about 4 feet square with a china sink and barely enough room for a small cupboard, later to be replaced may years later to Mums excitement by a 'Kitchen Cabinet'!. The scullery adjoined the main living room which had the 'hole-in-the-wall' type double bed with a heavy curtain to keep out draughts of which there were many. This was only a few feet from an old Victorian cast-iron range with a fire which was never allowed to go out as this was Mums main appliance for cooking and water heating. Bathing took place in the scullery sink until we got big enough to get stuck, then we graduated to a tin bath in the 'Kitchen' which was kept hanging on a nail in The Hall - very elegant! The kitchen was dominated by a large square table which was used for everything from food preparation to school homework. It was covered with waxcloth with entwined roses as a pattern which were the only flowers to be seen for miles. Our main furniture consisted of one armchair and a folding 'bedchair' which I believe was ex-army issue, and a dining-chair or two.
Continued ..............
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Rab-oldname
post 25th Nov 2008, 07:10pm
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Part2
The 'Hall' which allowed passage to our Bedroom was about 4 feet wide and 8 feet long and contained a large wardrobe, a wooden coal-bunker and an electricity meter + a big tin bath. The Hall suffered badly from damp and Mum was always nailing up the wallpaper to stop it collapsing over the coal-bunker. I remember Harry Birrell, our coalman, coming up the stairs (we were on the first floor) with a sack of coal on his back and tipping it into the bunker with a huge cloud of coal-dust which permeated the whole place - great when you're having a meal! The 'Bedroom' was the poshest (word used with caution!) part of the establishment. It had bay type sash windows looking out over the street. It had another hole-in-the-wall bed and appeared slightly bigger than the Kitchen, probably because there was no large table taking up space. There was an armchair and a settee, all second-hand, with a few small tables with pots of leaves on them. The focus of the room was a very old melodion (pedal-organ) which had come from my Grannys house in Motherwell, and Dad played when he appeared on leave from the Navy. Also prominent in the Bedroom was Mums Singer sewing-machine. My Mum was a dressmaker of quality. She had trained in all the major draperies in Glasgow and was in high demand locally for her skills in everything from alterations to complete wedding outfits. She bought her machine new in 1940 and it hardly ever stopped for the next 60 years. When she died in 1999 I still used it for sewing the sails from my boats. Do they make them like that now? I doubt it.
Cont’d
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Rab-oldname
post 25th Nov 2008, 07:17pm
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u]Part Three[/u]
In the Kitchen we had a very old radio with heavy 'wet' batteries which I had to carry to the local cycle-shop for charging (6d a charge!) each week. It was this appliance that provided our domestic entertainment and allowed us to enjoy, amongst other offerings, Music While You Work, Workers Playtime, Take It From Here, The Goon Show, Sandy MacPherson at his organ, The MacFlannels etc. It was a great day when we acquired a mains radio as I was released from the weekly slog of lugging the wet batteries to Mr Cuthberts shop for charging. At least three times a week we visited The Regal cinema which was only a 5 minute walk from home where we revelled in adventure, romance and comedy from Errol Flynn to Great Garbo and Laurel and Hardy. Saturday afternoon childrens matinees were absolute bedlam as we shouted and let off steam at our heroes and the 'baddies' not least of whom were Flash Gordon and Ming The Merciless!. Other favourites were Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks, Burt Lancaster etc. Later on in our teens it was to prove a suitably safe venue for learning about the opposite sex.Attached ImageIt is now a Bingo Hall.
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Rab-oldname
post 25th Nov 2008, 07:21pm
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Part4.
Back to the dwelling. The close led from front to back of the tennement and at the rear was the 'back-court'. This area was composed of ground where not a blade of grass grew and only earth, bone dry in summer and mud in winter was our playground under the watchful eyes of many 'Aunties' who spent most of the daylight hours leaning out of the windows and resting their (usually) ample bosoms on the sandstone sills whilst sharpening their knives and gossiping with their 'Chinas'.
One fact that I can always recall was the oddity that in 3 adjoining closes in our street there were families named White, Brown, Green, Violet, Blue, and Black. The family next door to us was named Beaver. To this day, I have never heard of this name anywhere.
The back-court was dominated by two things. The wash-houses and the middens.

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This photo is not of my back-court but is typical of the tenement layout. The middens were oblong tin boxes with lids where domestic rubbish was placed for the 'midgie-men' to take away. There were never enough middens so excess garbage was piled around them. The middens were foul at any time and in high summer were disgusting and extremely unhealthy. Rats were common and mice were legion and they fought with dogs and cats for the best bits. The resulting mess was scattered around the yard where children played - no wonder disease was rife at the time.
The wash-house was a simple brick shed with a large boiling pan in one corner with two large sinks where Mammys would scrub away with large bars of green Lifeboy soap on washboards on their allocated mornings, after which they prayed that it would not rain as then, they had wet clothes for days as they tried to dry them indoors - impossible! Another dedicated pastime for Mammys was close and stair scrubbing on hands and knees, after which the stair edges were 'painted' with white pipe-clay to enhance the appearance of the stairs! This was particularly difficult in our close as the roof had caught fire during the war and it was still open to the elements and pigeon droppings were one of the hazards of the time!.
Our flat was on the corner of the street adjoining Orchard Street and under us was Cochranes General Stores. Next to it was Wee Peggys Bakery, a tiny shop where we got our morning rolls still hot from the oven. Next to Peggy was Dougie Ferguson, a cobbler. Just down the street was our 'local', The Orchard Vaults. On the opposite side of Orchard Street from Cochranes was a Renfrew Co-op store comprising a grocery and a butchers. It was at this store that Rab first entered into paid employment on leaving school - 2 Pounds 2 shillings per 6 day week.
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Rab-oldname
post 25th Nov 2008, 07:23pm
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Renfrew has an important place in Scottish history through its connection with the High Stewards of Scotland. Walter, the 6th Steward and Baron of Renfrew, married Marjory, daughter of King Robert Bruce in 1315. Their son succeeded to the throne of Scotland as Robert II.
Renfrew was created a Royal Burgh in the 14th century by King Robert III.
The ground to the rear of the Co-op shop in Orchard Street where I worked has always been known as Castle Hill and is believed to be the site of the home of High Steward Walter (see above). It was here that most of the children from our streets played, away from the foul earth of the back-courts. I like to think that I played where Walters children played.
My first school was the Blythswood Testimonial School which was only a few minutes walk from home. It was a very grim Victorian building and remembered as either too hot or too cold.
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Nevertheless, I and my contemporaries gained a typically good basic Scottish education for which I am grateful to the really good teachers who were so kind to us. From here we eventually graduated to Renfrew High School, known as 'The Glebe' as it was located in Glebe Street.

Attached Image

The big pointy bit on the roof is the spire of the Parish Church behind, not an early space-rocket!
My local church was the Renfrew North Church of Scotland and believe it or not, I was a Sunday School teacher there!. I was also a keen member of the 3rd Renfrew Company, Boys Brigade.
Attached Image
Not from my home - but could have been! The range
Attached Image
and the hole in the wa’ bed! (Not forgetting the stone 'piggy' hot water bottle!)
Attached Image
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*Guest annie laurie **
post 25th Nov 2008, 08:26pm
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Hello Rab
I thoughly enjoyed reading your postings,
brought back lots of memories, I must say you have a excellent memory also,

Look how nice the kids were dresed the little boys with their Jackets on and the girls all look so nice as well, [then not like to-days kids with their Jeans half way doon their back side,]

Yes the good auld days, we did not have what the kids have to-day material wise, but we sure had a lot of fun with nothing, really, we made our own fun

Good to see again,the picture of the Whole in the Wall bed, and the auld grate,
"Memories", they cant take them away frae us right ?????????????????????????
P>S> I used to go from Linthouse to Renfrew Co-op once a week for my Mother as we did not have one in Linthouse {Co-op}
Cheers
Any more good Stories,? I could see them all in my minds eye as I was reading your posting Rab
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wellfield
post 25th Nov 2008, 08:35pm
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Aye' and tae think,most of us were conceived in that wee hole in the wa'---Aye and don,t laugh,yer Ma & Da did make love!
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Rab-oldname
post 25th Nov 2008, 09:14pm
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AW Campbell, NAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! laugh.gif Canny believe that!
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stratson
post 25th Nov 2008, 09:35pm
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Found your story so typical of life as it was in those years for many of your generation.
Your memory for detail is good.
Your mother (as wasall of that era) was a hard working woman and obviously gave you the grounding for the person you are today.

Rab, smile.gif Thank you for sharing with us, it is very good reading.

May I ask where in Glasgow you were bombed as My Aunt and family were also bombed in Craigiehall St. Plantation.


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George Muir
post 25th Nov 2008, 10:14pm
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You're right Wellfield, and some of us were delivered in that same wee place ohmy.gif
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glasgow lass
post 25th Nov 2008, 10:17pm
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Rab that was a really great read, I can remember the coal man days as ma mammy and I would have a laugh ( most times ), she would say tae me Lass am gone furr ma messages so dont have they records up too high or'yill miss Bell he was our coal man, so nine out of ten times ahd miss Bell the coal man, she'd be so mad because she would have to buy someone elses coal that just didn't do the trick for her. Thats when she started to send me for the messages and she would wait for Bell. laugh.gif Thanks for that Rab.
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Rab-oldname
post 25th Nov 2008, 10:34pm
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Stratson. Can't say where we were 'bombed oot' but I was born in Partick, and I recall my mother saying we lost our homes twice by bombing. She eventually found a family in Fortrose St who took her and her boys and gave them a fine home for 2 years till we moved to Renfrew.
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pumps100
post 6th Dec 2008, 09:40pm
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Rab,

Just a few days I was studying a map of Glasgow and districts. The Barony of Renfrew was very important - so much so that maps of that era only went 'south side' - Renfrew to Rutherglen. Timothy Pont maps are available here and you can zoom and stuff.

http://www.nls.uk/pont/specialist/pont33.html

Best wishes

Ian
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tombro
post 7th Dec 2008, 09:00am
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I must be a wee bit younger than you Rab, but your descriptions reminded me so much of my grannie's one roomer in Crimea Street in Anderston.

Thanks for the memories !

Tombro wub.gif


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stuarty
post 7th Dec 2008, 05:33pm
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my mammy and her 3 sisters used to use the bed resess as a stage and take turns in doing an act but wan day my auntie ellen cameout and did the dance of the seven vails and ma granny whacked her roond the earhole for being vulgar laugh.gif


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