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GG
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.

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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:
QUOTE
"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:
QUOTE
"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:
QUOTE
"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."

GG.
Glasgow Girl
Aww, that's sad. RIP. What a great picture that is though.
Dylan
My DIL is going to the Funeral.

She is friends with his Daughter..

An iconic Photo , sad loss.
Crewsy Fixer
I read this story today and thought it would be one for the GG site to be aware of. I read that the two boys met later after eagle eyed relatives spotted them in the paper.

It is an absolute cracker of a photo, I understand that it has world reknown but at the time it wasnt considered suitable.
Tony S
Yeah Very sad End Of An Era I was only one when we moved out but returned most weekends to visit my gran 1st @71 Cally road then In Cumberland St Facing St Francis Chapel .
There were 5 generations of my lot born in the Gorbals and my auntie is only one left .......Cumberland Place
*billtkd*
Why 'Gorbal Boys'? I have no idea what Clelland St looked like back then but the one in the photo looks far too short to be Clelland Street, which is (now) only 190 feet long. It look more like Glassford Street (facing north). So what were two eight year Gorbals kids doing there on their own?

How does this photograph highlight poverty? OK, it's not Little Lord Fauntleroy, but I used to dress like that in 1950s Coatbridge and we weren't considered poor.
glasgow lass
I have seen this foty many times but never took the time to get the whole story about the two young boys, I have always loved this snap. If a picture paints a thousand words this has to be one of them. Thanks so much for the foty and the info about the boys , its a treasure indeed.
Dexter St. Clair
QUOTE
Why 'Gorbal Boys'? I have no idea what Clelland St looked like back then but the one in the photo looks far too short to be Clelland Street, which is (now) only 190 feet long. It look more like Glassford Street (facing north). So what were two eight year Gorbals kids doing there on their own?

How does this photograph highlight poverty? OK, it's not Little Lord Fauntleroy, but I used to dress like that in 1950s Coatbridge and we weren't considered poor.

Superb put down there. Luv it. As you say you've no idea but what a barge in. Eight year olds out on their own. What year were you allowed out out on your own? Did your maw not send you for messages or did she prefer a more sensible sibling?

And by the way The Picture Post did not print it as it did not show poverty in their eyes.

Jupiter
The picture for me does sum up a way of life which was prevalent in all working class areas of Glasgow in the period after the war and the 50s.
As someone born in the early 50s I can remember the areas quite well.Where I lived in Cowcaddens and Queens Cross was on a par for the amount of squalid tenements people were forced to live in.Thankfully these places have been replaced and Glasgow has transformed into the great city it is today.
I dont think the picture is in Glassford Street in the 50s.Had it been so there would be overhead trolleybus power lines.
The two men are gone but the wee boys are with us for ever.
Great picture.
Oldsmiddy
I very much remember what the Gorbals area was like, in 1945-46 I used to deliver the Glasgow Citizen newspapers in a van of course, to the newspaper shops around that area including Govan, that picture definately depicts the poverty of that era, but there was always a smile on the childrens faces, as they were not aware of their predicament.
If I remember rightly, I think when they demolished the Gorbals, didn't most of the residents relocate to Barlanark, which I believe was between Shettleston & Bailieston, going towards my birthplace of Coatbridge. Thank you for that touching story.
May he R.I.P.
jwrobbo
That could be a picture of me and my brother living in Govan in the forties and fifties.
We didn't know we were poor either. It was quite safe in that era for kids to wander about quite freely and we often went for messages to the local shops.

jwrobbo
tamhickey
Such a shame that no-one involved in this pic is around anymore, may they all R.I.P.
It's such an iconic photograph as these were supposedly poverty stricken children who had that gallus look about them with big smiles on their coupons in the face of grim lives at the time, but they were children who didn't know what poverty was. To me, it's a defining photograph of a changing world; optimistic about the future and hoping for the best.
Billyk
Hello, as jwrobbo posts I also was from Govan in the 40s& 50s ,we didn't know what poverty meant, but had a great time anyway, and you could wander all over Glasgow then, from Glasgow Green to Kelvingrove, to Hampden Park to get lifted over the turnstiles by any stranger who would, now I look and wonder what kids of today are missing, Bill
*wetglaswegian*
Amazing Glasgow photo. RIP Les and George.
exiled weegie
QUOTE (jwrobbo @ 13th Jul 2011, 05:03am) *
That could be a picture of me and my brother living in Govan in the forties and fifties.
We didn't know we were poor either. It was quite safe in that era for kids to wander about quite freely and we often went for messages to the local shops.

jwrobbo

Exactly , that could be anyone in that photo and reading the history theres just no way it can be proved one way or another.
tamhickey
You got me remembering Bill. When I was a kid in the 60's,living in Springburn, me and three wee pals of mine decided to walk to the Campsies. We could see the every day and just wanted to get there under our own steam. Well, we walked and walked and ended up near some farm, far away from home. This was hours later and we decided to head back as we weren't going to make it. We were tired and hungry and the light was going down.
As we headed back, one of us stuck his thumb up near Bishopbriggs hoping for a lift and we got one! The guy took us all to our homes without waiting for thanks and we all got home safely. I think the same might be true today, but we are all so careful and risk averse these days that the idea of trust goes out the window.
You can understand it, for even then my parents were not happy at us thumbing a lift.
margie
What a lovely photo. It shows the friendship that really existed and what the kids are all missing now. Memories are wonderful things, and its great what a photo can do. R.I.P Margie.
tarzan
QUOTE (*billtkd* @ 13th Jul 2011, 01:42am) *
Why 'Gorbal Boys'? I have no idea what Clelland St looked like back then but the one in the photo looks far too short to be Clelland Street, which is (now) only 190 feet long. It look more like Glassford Street (facing north). So what were two eight year Gorbals kids doing there on their own?

How does this photograph highlight poverty? OK, it's not Little Lord Fauntleroy, but I used to dress like that in 1950s Coatbridge and we weren't considered poor.

As Mr Mason said, "everyone lived that way. We didn't know we were poor until other people told us" he didn't consider himself or his family "poor" at the time, something a lot of us could say.

Maybe Glasgow weans were given more freedom than Coatbridge ones, but we were free to go more or less where we pleased during daylight hours.

Can't understand why they should be so toffee nosed.
John McCreadie
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!!
gpn160
This image of Glasgow will live with Glasgow and Glaswegians for many years.
greta
Must agree, this photo is and will remain a Glasgow treasure, its our past our heritage ,where we come from. Two young boys who didnt even know they were poor but were probably living in an era of great community, where one person helped another just because they needed it. All my thoughts with Mr Masons family at this sad time, just remember the pleasure his photo has given so many Glaswegions.
chas1937
I saw it on the TV yesterday but had already knew about it and story attached to it as well
Eddie McFadyen
The power of the photograph is in the step of the boys - going forward together to the next adventure. The bright confident eyes acknowledge the camera, but the lads aren't going to stop in the course of their duties. Their physical contact with each other is somehow reassuring as they keep each other safe crossing the road. Poverty doesn't come in to it - the richness of youth and friendship are what strikes me.
elso
QUOTE (Dexter St. Clair @ 13th Jul 2011, 01:11am) *
Superb put down there. Luv it. As you say you've no idea but what a barge in. Eight year olds out on their own. What year were you allowed out out on your own? Did your maw not send you for messages or did she prefer a more sensible sibling?

And by the way The Picture Post did not print it as it did not show poverty in their eyes.


These young boys like myself lived maybe not in better times but definitely safer times ,when we could go out by ourselves without worrying neighbours looking out for each other,their doors always open now its -needle's lying about,or drunks,pedophiles,not saying that they werent about then but MY world was a much safer place then,Now I wont even let my grandchildren out playing on their own,even after school,what a HORRIBLE world we live in now!
JAGZ1876
I was sorry to hear of the death of Les Mason, sympathy's to family. The picture itself captured a brief moment of Glasgows wonderful history, but lets stop looking back with rose coloured glasses, as Les himself said "There was 13 kid's only 8 survived infancy in a rat infested 1 room flat with outside toilet". That is one part of history i am glad has gone forever. Also billtkd said it can't be Clelland St because it is only 190 Yrds long. In 1948 it was a lot longer, running from Gorbals St, crossing Hospital St, then crossing Thistle St, finishing at Crown St. The photographer was standing facing east at the corner of Hospital St, with Thistle St behind the boy's with Crown St at the top. As Jupiter said it isn't Glassford St as there is no trollybus power lines, also no tram lines, plus the first street on the right would be Garth St which doesn't cross Glassford St.
norrie123
Hi Jagz you just stole my thunder tongue.gif , thats just what my maps of Gorbals show

An iconic photo of Gorbals an area that while I didn't live there, I worked there and have an interest in all things Gorbals
RIP Les
Bye for now, norrie
granniemo
Even now, eight year olds can be trusted to go for messages locally. The world's actually not that bad you know.

The iconic picture to me says here's two wee lads out together. Free of worry and care. Doesn't instantly say poverty so can see why not printed by the paper. Hey, everyone dressed like that back in the 40s to 60s. Some of school friends looked like them and I was brought up in leafy Mosspark 1950s.
stratson
Would like to extend my sympathy to the family of Les Mason.RIP.

Many of us living today who remember those times too well, myself included. sad.gif






auldbutcher
My god i have seen this pic afore anywan o them cooda been me am 2 year older than them but its the same environment just a few miles tae Govan .

I, you roamed ye ranged and you rambled you knew where tae fish ferr the biggest baggie minnies ,where tae go nesting fer doo's eggs , ye wirnae hame in time fer yer dinner yer mammy didnae fret there wis no so many perverts in them days ,reason i think there wis nae computers where the scum o the earht cood meet hatch and plot and swop the filthy pics like they dae noo .

Life then wis aw aboot ootdoors activity's fitbaw ,going ferr a wee hike few broken cakes fae a bakery club the gether fer a bottle o ginger an you wiz aff toff .

Poverty when a working mans pay wis a pittance like the day the rich got richer the poor ''funny thing is ye didnae think you were poor any wan said you were poor widda got a skelp'' got poorer just efter the war jobs wis hard tae come by lotta sogers getting demobbed and seekin employment ''in them days every man wanted tae work any man who didnae wis called a slacker or a scrounger '' aye times wis hard but fer maist o us it wis happy ,if you had a wireless then there wis dick barton , riders o the range wee program's tae keep you happy ,but whit the hell who wanted tae stay in the hoose to much adventure tae be had oot side .

In closing it didnae dae that perr much harm happy go lucky lads ,even in there photos taken later in life you could see the humor and camaraderie in baith there eyes, rest in peace you perr. biggrin.gif
*Blackie*
Brilliant Photo with a Brilliant Past. The Good OLD GORBALS.
CopperLamp
Aye its sad but good piccy, I have piccy of me and my bro 1956 In the Gorbals my bro was born there, I was born In Campsie Stirling
*Sally*
RIP TO THE YOUNG LADS IN THE PIC ...

My mother grew up in the Gorbals , and she would tell me about her school Adelphi Terrace, (I think). Her name was Sally McGugan, now Sally (Sarah) McMahon, born 1948, the same year that pic was taken.

Does anyone remember her ?
Rabbie
Sad news, those two boys could have been so many of us back in the day.

Poverty can be defined in many ways. I didnea feel a sence of missing out on anything, other than big boys got to stay oot later!

There was certainly nea poverty in the way folks used to be selfless and helped each other out and the love and care oor parents gave us.

I dinnea miss some of the manky closes and the like but I do miss the close, unselfish family community we used to have.

RIP.
Alec05
I remember the photograph when it was in the newspaper, but not when. I would travel to Castlemilk around 1955-56 as i was just about finishing my bricklaying apprenticeship with the "corpie" before going to do my N.S. The auld gorbals was still there with very little or no changes and we all thought that things were on the move for the better ! Were they.
Mathieson
sad.gif Just read about this. That picture will forever be an iconic Glesga picture and never failed to cheer me up when I saw it.
RIP Les Mason and his wee buddy George Davis who went before him.
yopal
A great photie of Glasgow and like everyone says, it will always be there as a glimpse of the social and communal history that is now gone (almost) forever.
ashfield
May I also give my condolences to the family of Mr Mason and his friends.

I agree with those who don't recognise this as depicting poverty, it could have been taken at any number of locations across the city and there would have been another two little boys in similar dress. The photograph is a testament to the talent of the brilliant Bert Hardy, who worked for the Picture Post for many years, it is hard to tire of looking at his photos.

In "The Gorbals boys", he was clever in getting down to their level and that made it all the more appealing. Sadly, it s the sort of shot which would be impossible to take now for fear of the potential repercussions.
bilbo.s
I think I have just coined a word - paedophiliaphobia ! Or maybe just plain old paranoia ! sad.gif
Melody
I agree with so many of the posts above. Indeed poverty has many faces but this photograph isn't one of them. The joy of life and friendship on the faces of those lovely weans it just a treasure. You can't help but smile inside when you look at them. Shame that we don't see those same expressions in weans today just enjoying each others mischievous company. It's sad to think that weans today don't seem to be allowed to have that same wee bit freedom, it's so vital to learning all sorts of social skills, not forgetting the pure fun in life. smile.gif God Rest them all.
ashfield
QUOTE (bilbo.s @ 13th Jul 2011, 08:38pm) *
I think I have just coined a word - paedophiliaphobia ! Or maybe just plain old paranoia ! sad.gif


I agree...............I think unsure.gif
bilbo.s
QUOTE (ashfield @ 13th Jul 2011, 09:54pm) *
I agree...............I think unsure.gif


Cogitas ergo es ! smile.gif
*KANDY*
A wonderfully iconic picture of the times.

Having grown up in Maryhill, at the same time and having an identical background I am immediately transported back nearly sixty years every time I see this photograph.

Poverty is relative and what was instictively important to us was the love and support of families and neighbours - not that we understood this in these terms.

These boys would have spent much of their time as we did out of doors safe in the knowledge that all the local adults would be there for them.
I still see school friends from primary school, all who have done well - some spectacularly so - and we all value the childhood we enjoyed and would not have had it otherwise.

It's sad that they have gone but it is comforting to know that they enjoyed what appears to be a happy and productive adulthood. Equally important is that they represent the spirit that made Glasgow great.
GG
I found the following in a Herald article by William Hunter from 1995:
QUOTE
Bert Hardy's pictures from around the world are classics of photo-journalism, but his Glasgow shots were favourites, says William Hunter. Old Glasgow did no mean number of favours to photographer Bert Hardy, who died on Monday, and had all of them returned.

His pictures showed the harsh optimism and the struggle for decency of Gorbals people after the Hitler war. With his camera, he refocused the stereotype image that the city's southside was populated only by gangs and drunks.

Gorbals saw him as a nosey visitor, but one who knew what it was like to be poor. They accepted him. Slum doors opened. "Nobody took much notice when I started taking photos," Bert Hardy said later.
His assignment was to complete a series of conventional pictures of urban misery taken earlier by a colleague on Picture Post magazine. Hardy was handed the job of capturing the human side of poverty.

He took shots of ragged kids using a graveyard for a playground. A big wifie bathed her body from a basin on the kitchen table. Most memorable was the street scene with the two scallywag pals, all dirty skint knees and strong cheeky faces, who took the photographer back to his own poor London boyhood. "My favourite picture," he said.

"This reminds me of what I was like when I was a kid. In this story I concentrated on the children, and how they kept their spirits up in conditions which were often dreadful," he recalled in his memoirs, My Life.

His Gorbals sequence in l948 won the first Encyclopaedia Britannica Award.

It seems that the image reminded Bert of his own childhood in the east end of London, where he grew up in conditions not too far removed from his Picture Post assignment in the Gorbals.

GG
Chrissie
This picture got past me. I don't recall ever having seen it but I did now, thanks to the boards. Like these kids, I didn't know I was poor till I started work and realized everyone didn't get paychecks on Friday and have nothing left by Monday or Tuesday. rolleyes.gif
lindamac
Click to view attachment

God rest their souls in the arms of the angels Bless their families too at least they have this picture as a gentle reminder of their relatives reality in life still two happy wee boys faces despite their poverty. wub.gif
frame
I saw this iconic picture of the the two boys some time ago. It really does depict a moment in time that was wonderful. Two boys on a mission that would last for an eternity. I was three years behind Les and George and I was somewhere in that square mile. Thistle, Hospital or Cumberland street. I wouldn't mind getting the glossy version and framing it. After all, wasn't that exactly how we were.
Sleep tight you two guys you did us proud.
Tommy Kennedy
Frame - you can buy this photo from the 'Mitchel Libray', that and many others are stored there.

I don't have the nostalgia for 'Auld Glasgow' that some have on here - mind in the post war years, even during the war, there wasn't the belly hunger/wide spread diseases of the 30s.
tobruk
Hi folks, I lived in Riddrie on Dee street from about 1943 on; I would catch a tram on Cumbernauld street to down town. Down Duke st. and into down town Glasgow. Two things I'd like you to remember. Riddrie was where the Swells lived and the war was at it's darkest . I would go to the train station to stamp my name on the metal tag machine . The Gorbels was just another place I liked to go , never had a problem . I also loved the Clydesdale horse stables. It's true most of the time was spent in Alexander park across the street from my home ,then up to Hogginfeild loch .
Cumbernauld was just a village not yet filled from south end folks that were moved from the demolished tenements . Someone in 1947 wrote with paint on a wall " Eric Cameron is gone to America " that I was told was still there after 20 years. I hunted for it in 1993 but things had changed so much I could not find it or anyone who remembered the wall.
I do miss Scotland, best memories of my childhood are of Aberdeen, village of Monymusk and Glasgow. I can't even remember my first 10 years in the USA . My mother died and is laid to rest in Riddrie Cemetery . My father died In Ohio . I guess I'm Americanized now.
Frederick Cameron -------- cameron710@gmail.com
maureen michaels
This is one of my favourite photos of Glasgow. It was displayed in a calander my aunt sent me years ago. I lived at 1090 Dumbarton Rd in Whiteinch for about 3 months during the summer of 1963 in the old tenements and I loved it. We had a room and kitchen and an inside toilet. We had lived in Drumchapel prior to this and then moved back to the Drum again but I missed the old tenement life. Our neighbours were much more friendlier and everybody knew each other. I used to ride my roller skates under the Clyde tunnel to Govan (the queen had just opened it), and then I would ride back across the Clyde on the ferry...I would go home filthy dirty from dreepin the midgies and running through the old backyards. I live in Ohio now and when I tell my daughter about my childhood (we were poor, but I was really unaware of it) she asks me if I am sure I didn't live in the Victorian times, she finds it hard to believe I used to stuff cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes (I now own about 50 pairs) and only got a new coat about every two years. When I started working at Barcley, Curles in Whiteinch at the age of 15, I wore the skirt and shirt from my school uniform, then when I got my first paycheck which was four pounds, I bought an outfit to wear. Anyway I am rambling...RIP Gorbals Boys.....ps the previous writer from Ohio...wher abouts in Ohio...I live in Cleveland...
TeeHeeHee
QUOTE (ashfield @ 13th Jul 2011, 07:26pm) *
I agree with those who don't recognise this as depicting poverty, it could have been taken at any number of locations across the city and there would have been another two little boys in similar dress.

Not only across the city but across the county.
As has been already mentioned here in this topic - and I dare say in many others, we; as children, growing up in that era, whether in the city or in the out-lying towns, never realised that we lived in poverty as such. We knew that there were rich people - but that didn't make us poor in our eyes. Anyway, when we went to the local rubbish dump to get enough bits to put a decent bike together, we didn't get a row when we buckled a wheel we just went back to find another wheel. laugh.gif
The beauty of that picture is that it was a picture of any and all of us weans.

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