The idea of "council housing" has its roots in 19th century philanthropic or paternalistic associations concerned with the improvement of working class or "artisan" dwellings. In Glasgow the first step towards the council house was taken with the quasi-independent City Improvement Trust which linked slum clearance with re-housing, mainly around the area of Glasgow Cross and the High Street. However most of the people, who were cleared from their homes, did not find themselves in new flats but in "model lodging houses" or slums in other parts of the city.
The new flats were to be an ornament to the City and to house the "better sort" of artisan, but the reputation of the tenement as a fit dwelling for the middle classes began to suffer. Some trustees of the City Improvement Trust had argued for "garden city" type developments and a compromise was tried at Overnewton Square (1860-80s) and Cathedral Square (1860s). The later upmarket private suburbs of Hyndland and Broomhill (1890-1914) are versions of this tenemental garden suburb. Developers did not abandon the middle class tenement, however, building ever more grandiose examples, complete with maids' rooms, pantries and basement laundries.
The First World War seemed to kill off the middle class tenement until its revival in the 1980s. In the meantime the City retained the tenement for certain projects, but "cottages" were preferred by the Council and by their clients. Glasgow Corporation laid out huge areas of "cottage" style housing schemes, early on at Mosspark (from 1920) where the houses were grouped around a hill in a variety of types. Here dwellings were separated from Bellahouston Park by a tree-lined "boulevard".
Knightswood, in the west of the city was built around the same time with prestige stone tenements marking the "entrance" to the scheme at Anniesland and performing a similar function to the much earlier, grandiose buildings of the City Improvement Trust at Glasgow Cross. The Corporation also experimented with "bed-sit" and hostel dwellings, for example for unmarried women at Crathie Court in Partick (1946). This eight-storey block was important, as it presaged the future direction of development of Glasgow's Council housing – upwards.
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