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> Last Gorbals Boy Dies, An image which captured Glasgow's optimism
post 12th Jul 2011, 10:59pm
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The last surviving link to the iconic Gorbals Boys photograph has died. Glasgow grandfather Les Mason, the child pictured on the left of the famous photo, has passed away at the age of 70.

Attached Image

The photo in today's Herald, at the point near where it was originally taken

Mr Mason became famous later in life after his family discovered that he was the boy carrying the shopping bag in the photograph taken with his pal George Davis in 1948. The two Gorbals boys, depicted as 'street urchins', were walking across a Gorbals' street arm-in-arm on the way to the shop to get messages for Mr Mason's mum.

The picture was taken in 1948 by the late photojournalist Bert Hardy, who had been despatched from London to tkae phographs highlighting poverty in the Gorbals, which at that time was one of the most deprived and overcroweded urban areas in Europe.

Picture Post, the magazine for which Mr Hardy warked, did not subsequently print the photo as a part of the story on poverty in Glasgow, preferring more austere depictions of the grimness of life in post-war Gorbals. Despite this, the photographer always insisted that the now-famous Gorbals Boys shot was the favourite of his career.

Explaing how Mr Mason discovered that he was one of the Gorbals' Boys, his daughter, Julie, said:
"It was 1985 and another newspaper ran a retrospective looking back at Bert Hardy’s work which included the Gorbals Boys photograph and an appeal to trace the two boys featured in it. The search was then picked up by the Evening Times in a ‘where are they now?’ article. I think it was George Davis’s wife who saw it first and when mum saw it she recognised the story and asked dad: ‘Is that you?’ My brother Scott was a teenager then and he looked a bit like dad did in the photo. It was nice because we didn’t have any other photographs of dad as a boy."

Mr Mason's family added that the former shipyard worker had been very proud of his link with Glasgow's past. George Davis, the other child in the photo, died in 2002, aged 61, seven years after the London-born photographer who took the photo.

Speaking in 1999 of how the pic came to be taken, Mr Mason said:
"We were only about eight years old, and must have been going down Clelland Street to collect our entitlement of cod liver oil, orange juice and dried milk from the Ministry of Health store."

About his circumsatances, again from 1999, Mr Mason added:
"I was one of 13 children, although only eight of us made it past infancy. We were all crammed together in a one-room flat infested with rats, sharing an outside toilet with the rest of the tenement. But everyone lived that way. We didn't know we were poor until other people told us."


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*John McCreadie*
post 13th Jul 2011, 08:28am
Post #2

A wondrful story and photograph. I saw 6 kids walking down Govan Road the other day and the girls were all dressed up in long dresses. I would have loved to have taken a photograph of the cute kids but in todays society it would be frowned on a stranger do such a thing. Sad days!!
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Posts in this topic
- GG   Last Gorbals Boy Dies   12th Jul 2011, 10:59pm
- - Glasgow Girl   Aww, that's sad. RIP. What a great picture ...   12th Jul 2011, 11:02pm
- - Dylan   My DIL is going to the Funeral. She is friends wi...   12th Jul 2011, 11:09pm
- - Crewsy Fixer   I read this story today and thought it would be on...   12th Jul 2011, 11:18pm
- - Tony S   Yeah Very sad End Of An Era I was only one when we...   12th Jul 2011, 11:50pm
- - *billtkd*   Why 'Gorbal Boys'? I have no idea what Cle...   13th Jul 2011, 12:49am
|- - Dexter St. Clair   QUOTE Why 'Gorbal Boys'? I have no idea wh...   13th Jul 2011, 01:18am
||- - elso   QUOTE (Dexter St. Clair @ 13th Jul 2011, 01...   13th Jul 2011, 09:04am
|- - tarzan   QUOTE (*billtkd* @ 13th Jul 2011, 01:42am...   13th Jul 2011, 08:18am
- - glasgow lass   I have seen this foty many times but never took th...   13th Jul 2011, 01:04am
- - Jupiter   The picture for me does sum up a way of life which...   13th Jul 2011, 04:03am
- - Oldsmiddy   I very much remember what the Gorbals area was lik...   13th Jul 2011, 05:07am
- - jwrobbo   That could be a picture of me and my brother livin...   13th Jul 2011, 05:10am
|- - *wetglaswegian*   Amazing Glasgow photo. RIP Les and George.   13th Jul 2011, 06:36am
|- - exiled weegie   QUOTE (jwrobbo @ 13th Jul 2011, 05:03am) ...   13th Jul 2011, 06:38am
- - tamhickey   Such a shame that no-one involved in this pic is a...   13th Jul 2011, 05:50am
- - Billyk   Hello, as jwrobbo posts I also was from Govan in t...   13th Jul 2011, 05:55am
- - tamhickey   You got me remembering Bill. When I was a kid in t...   13th Jul 2011, 06:50am
- - margie   What a lovely photo. It shows the friendship that ...   13th Jul 2011, 07:38am
- - John McCreadie   A wondrful story and photograph. I saw 6 kids walk...   13th Jul 2011, 08:28am
- - gpn160   This image of Glasgow will live with Glasgow and G...   13th Jul 2011, 08:38am
- - greta   Must agree, this photo is and will remain a Glasgo...   13th Jul 2011, 08:55am
- - chas1937   I saw it on the TV yesterday but had already knew ...   13th Jul 2011, 08:57am
- - Eddie McFadyen   The power of the photograph is in the step of the ...   13th Jul 2011, 09:02am
- - JAGZ1876   I was sorry to hear of the death of Les Mason, sym...   13th Jul 2011, 09:09am
- - norrie123   Hi Jagz you just stole my thunder , thats just wh...   13th Jul 2011, 10:26am
- - granniemo   Even now, eight year olds can be trusted to go for...   13th Jul 2011, 11:46am
- - stratson   Would like to extend my sympathy to the family of ...   13th Jul 2011, 12:25pm
- - auldbutcher   My god i have seen this pic afore anywan o them co...   13th Jul 2011, 12:43pm
- - *Blackie*   Brilliant Photo with a Brilliant Past. The Good OL...   13th Jul 2011, 01:27pm
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