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Fiddlers' Close

Mitchell Library, William Simpson

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Fiddlers' Close

William Simpson's painting of Fiddlers' Close. The narrow passage was situated on the west side of High Street. Laid out in the 17th century, it is said to have acquired its name because it was once the home of a number of fiddle players.

Many of the houses in the close had wooden upper storeys, as was common in old city centre. Under the stairway on the right of this image can be seen one of the wells which supplied water for the Glasgow Water Company. It was made of cast iron and operated by a key which when turned would release the water.

The close was once the location of fashionable residences but by the 1840s it had degenerated to an overcrowded slum, with many of the buildings converted to lodging houses. Contemporary writers described the area as being populated predominantly with poor Irish immigrants. The close was swept away by the City Improvement Trust in 1878.

Reference: Mitchell Library 310408

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning

City Improvement Trust, closes, common stairs, Fiddlers' Close, fires, Glasgow Water Company, immigrants, Irish, lanes, lodging houses, slum clearance, slums, wells, women

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