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Glasgow Today And Tomorrow (1949)

Courtesy of Scottish Screen Archive

Main image of Glasgow Today And Tomorrow (1949)
16mm, black and white, 8 mins
Director Erica Masters
Sponsor: Planning Committee of the Corporation of Glasgow
Production Company Moviegram Films
Producer Charles Dean
Written by Charles Dean
Scottish Screen Archive collection

Glasgow housing and city scape in the post-war years and the Corporation of Glasgow's futuristic plans for the city's development.

Show full synopsis

The accelerated growth of Glasgow's industry since the late 18th Century had created a crisis of housing and town planning problems by the mid-20th century. Housing conditions and overcrowding proved to be particularly intractable. As Glasgow attracted ever more workers to service her expanding industries, cheap new housing had to be squeezed into the city to accommodate them. The result was an agglomeration of single-room cheap tenements (three, four or five storeys high), with 'closes' (streets) so narrow that neighbours could shake hands across them. Light was blocked out, rubbish and pollution accumulated and the scheme soon descended into a foetid, disease-ridden mass of squalor and degradation. The city was notoriously cited as having the worst housing conditions in the British Isles.

The Bruce Report of 1945 (Clyde Valley Plan) sought to address the problem, proposing a complete deconstruction of the existing Victorian city centre in order to create an new 'healthy and beautiful city' of modern architecture. Its prime recommendation was an overspill policy. Glaswegian residents would be transferred to newly created towns, purpose-built to accommodate a modern workforce. Three new towns were built: East Kilbride, Cumbernauld and Glenrothes, followed later by Livingstone. In addition, the slums were demolished, controversially along with vast swathes of the Victorian city, to make way for a modern, concrete Glasgow, as the city prepared to reinvent itself out of post-war industrial decline.

Glasgow Today and Tomorrow (1949), made to tie in with an exhibition of the same title at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall, concerns such plans for the city's re-development, and was one of a number of public information films sponsored by the city corporation to inform the citizens of the progress being made. The films were screened in cinemas across the city and at community meetings.

The clip illustrates the housing problems (overcrowding, poor conditions) and urban planning problems (congestion, roads built for horse drawn carriages not motorised traffic). Evidence of a dichotomy between industrial squalor and mercantile wealth.

See also New Day (1959) and Cumbernauld, Town for Tomorrow (1970) for propaganda and promotion film on the benefits of the new towns, and Let Glasgow Flourish (1956) for a perspective on housing conditions from inhabitants.

Kenneth Broom

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (7:56)
Cumbernauld, Town For Tomorrow (1970)
Let Glasgow Flourish (1952)
New Day (1959)