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KS4 Geography: Glasgow - a case study 1

1 of 4: slum clearance, redevelopment and re-housing

Main image of KS4 Geography: Glasgow - a case study 1
AuthorPoppy Simpson, BFI
TopicGlasgow: redevelopment, re-housing and new town
Show full lesson spec

Glasgow Today and Tomorrow (1949) is a public information film, sponsored by the Glasgow City Corporation, outlining the plans to redevelop the city.

In this unit of work (Glasgow: a case study) a series of films about housing in and around Glasgow form the basis of a detailed analysis of change in inner city Glasgow from the interwar period onwards. Over the course of four lessons, students are introduced to conditions in Glasgow's 19th century tenement buildings, the redevelopment plans of Glasgow City Corporation in the 1950s, the various initiatives to re-house people in different areas of the city as well the development of new towns such as Cumbernauld and East Kilbride.

In this lesson Glasgow Today and Tommorrow (1949) is the starting point for looking at the problems Glasgow faced around 1950 - its poor housing conditions in particular - and analysing the redevelopment plans put forward by the city corporation in the years following World War Two.

Lesson Objective

  • To understand the reasons for poor housing in Glasgow in the 1940s, explain the conditions experienced by tenement residents and analyse the re-development proposals put forward by the city corporation.


What do students know about Glasgow? Why not begin by collecting the class's ideas? What do students associate with the city? Has anyone visited Glasgow? What do they know about the growth of cities during the industrial revolution (hopefully something - if they paid attention in History at Year 9!)?

You'll need to set the scene by providing some basic contextual information. During the mid to late 19th century Glasgow grew into a major industrial city and trading port. Mass shipbuilding along the Clyde began an industrial boom based around coal, iron and steel. The population outstripped that of Edinburgh, large public and commercial buildings were constructed based on classical and Italianate models and the locals often referred to Glasgow as 'the second city of Empire'. During the 1860s and 70s, the building of tenements increased by around 600%, with more than 20,000 tenement flats built between 1872 and 1876 to accommodate the city's growing workforce.

By the mid 1940s, Glasgow was famed for having some of the worst housing conditions in the British Isles. To address this and other problems, two reports were published in 1945 (written by Robert Bruce) outlining plans to redevelop Glasgow into a healthier, more modern city.

Now watch the first minute and a half of Glasgow Today and Tommorrow (1949) (up to the point at which the front cover of the planning committee's report is shown) which highlights the problems facting the city. You might want to focus students' thinking by asking them to respond to a few key questions:

  • What kinds of problems does the city face? They need to look carefully at what they see on screen, not only what they hear from the narrator.
  • Why have these problems arisen?
  • What are the main solutions offered by the planning committee?
  • What is the overall impression of Glasgow given in the film?

Main Attraction

Now it's time to focus on housing in a little more detail. What did student's notice about the inner-city housing in the film? What about the variety of housing in Glasgow? Can any modern-day parallels be made? What are the possible effects of such poor housing - social, economic and environmental?

If might be useful to look at tenement conditions in the interwar period a little further. There are three useful short extracts for this purpose:

  • Housing Problems (1935) - The Problems of the Slum and Mr Norwood's story- were filmed in Stepney but the conditions described reflect those of tenement dwellers across the country.
  • The silent Let Glasgow Flourish (1952) demonstrates that slum housing and overcrowding were still a major problem three years after Glasgow Today and Tomorrow was produced, as workers take to the streets in protest against proposals to sell off more than 600 council homes to private buyers (there is no need to watch the entire film - the first two minutes explain the cause of the protest; which is then shown from 12 minutes in.).

To consolidate students' understanding of housing conditions, ask them to write a short paragraph, that might have been included in the Bruce Report, outlining the housing situation in inner-city Glasgow and explaining why it needs to be addressed.

Now it's time to look at how the council proposed to improve the situation. Given the state of inner-city housing, what might students expect from a re-development proposal? Ask them to come up with at least two suggestions they expect the report to put forward (ie. what type of housing/where etc.).

The remainder of Glasgow Today and Tomorrow deals with the planning committee's proposals. Ask students to summarise the proposals related to housing. What type of housing is being planned? Where will these housing schemes be built? What kinds of factors have influenced the planners' decisions?


End Credits

Round off the lesson by asking students write a short public statement on behalf of the Corporation of Glasgow announcing plans to clear the tenement slums and explaining the plans for re-development. The statement should reflect the aims of the planners - highlighting the positive impact the new schemes will have on people's standard of living as well as on the city itself. They should seek to place these proposals in context of the wider re-development agenda.


External Links
Historical and contemporary statistics for Glasgow
The Glasgow Story

Video Clips
Glasgow Today and Tomorrow: Complete film (7:56)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Glasgow Today And Tomorrow (1949)Glasgow Today And Tomorrow (1949)

Read more about this film

Thumbnail image of Housing Problems (1935)Housing Problems (1935)

Read more about this film

Thumbnail image of Let Glasgow Flourish (1952)Let Glasgow Flourish (1952)

Read more about this film

See also

Thumbnail image of KS4 Geography: Glasgow - a case study 2KS4 Geography: Glasgow - a case study 2

2 of 4: slum clearance, redevelopment and re-housing

Thumbnail image of KS4 Geography: Glasgow - a case study 3KS4 Geography: Glasgow - a case study 3

3 of 4: slum clearance, redevelopment and re-housing

Thumbnail image of KS4 Geography: Glasgow - a case study 4KS4 Geography: Glasgow - a case study 4

4 of 4: slum clearance, redevelopment and re-housing

Thumbnail image of The Promised Land?: New Towns for Old (1942)The Promised Land?: New Towns for Old (1942)

Material to accompany the BFI Mediatheque 'The Promised Land?' DVD