Barrow Island Flats

October 6, 2008 at 16:58 | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Barrow Island Flats

Barrow’s little bit of Victorian Glasgow. Tenement flats built to house incoming shipyard workers and once a place to be avoided.

Now the flats, which are listed buildings, are changing as Barrow Island changes. They are gradually undergoing a process of refurbishment and transforming along with the island. Still a gritty, down-to-earth place though.



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  1. What a wonderfully evocative picture. In the mid-1960s I did the usual Christmas post job and on one occasion did a delivery to the flats. The regular postman told me to start at the top of each stairway and work downwards. This was because the residents sometimes waited for the postman on his way back down if a bill had been delivered and vented their anger on him.

  2. Re your photo of the barrow island flats ,looking at the stalrways now , I wonder how I used to deliver sacks of coal to all these flats. They look a lot farther up now than they did then ,
    perhaps because it was in the 1950s that I last did those G,and H flats.[ Ah well time flies ]
    But the people used to be wonderful

  3. Definition of evocative: evoking or tending to evoke an especially emotional response

    Well from my time living their it definitely bring tears to my eyes, but in a totally different sense than those of Peter on October 8 2008.
    I can’t believe the comments I hear about the Barrow Island flats, people romanticise about and say they are a beautiful or a stunning piece of architecture usually the kind of comments from people who have never actually lived there, now there are some stunning examples of victorian architecture throughout the uk and in my opinion the Barrow Island flats are not one of them, these people need to take of their rose tinted spectacles or beer goggles and as for the tenants, back in the 60’s I would imagine that the people were decent sociable and hard working,but lets face it these flats were originally thrown up to house the rapidly expanding number of shipyard workers and as times moved on, workers could eventually afford to buy their own houses and then the flats were a kind safety net for people in poverty to prevent them ending up homeless, or for couples who were using them as a stepping stone to save up for their own houses and in that sense I suppose they served a good purpose, but the rest of us who had nowhere else to live had no choice but to live there and having the choice I would never choose to live there and I don’t know anyone else I spoke to that lived there, that wanted to live there apart from like a said couples saving for a deposit for a house, but the rest were not there through choice and I am not going to say anything about the kinds of people that live in them these days as I don’t want to stigmatise the flats for the decent people who still live there, but from my experience of living in the flats in the 80’s and 00’s, aside from social problems with drug users and violence the flats themselves were in disrepair damp and drafty and when I spoke to a neighbour who lived there all his life, apparently he said that up until the 70’s that’s over 100 years after they were built they didn’t even have bathrooms, so the flats were not by any stretch of the imagination pleasant to live in or to look at and if I won the lottery provided I won enough I would buy them all and tear them down with pleasure and build truly stunning looking apartments that were spacious with balconies that the residents would be proud to live in.

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