This photograph shows a group of children standing in front of the brick-built midden in the backcourt at 76 Crown Street, Gorbals, in 1912. All but two of the children are bare-footed, despite the water and debris lying on the ground.
The midden was the area in which tenement families disposed of their household waste. A high proportion of the waste consisted of ashes, as most food scraps and flammable rubbish was thrown on the kitchen fire and cinders from burnt-out coal were constantly re-cycled. However, children and would sometimes scavenge in the middens in search of discarded treasures or "luckies".
The backcourts of slum tenements provided an unhealthy environment for children. One Glasgow woman recalled her childhood: "I used to play in the middens where I caught scarlet fever. It was just something to do. Just looking for luckies. You used to always see dead cats and the boys used to lift them by the tail and throw them at you."
At the beginning of the 21st century the Crown Street Regeneration Project, a £400 million development based on an award-winning masterplan by internationally renowned architect Piers Gough, is in the process of transforming this area of former slum housing.
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning
ashes, ashpits, backcourts, bare feet, children, Crown Street Regeneration Project, disease, girls, middens, public health, rubbish, shoes, slum clearance, slums, tenements, urban regeneration