Red Road Stories Vol 3

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Table of Contents

Red Road Stories


eveloped by Glasgow Life, Glasgow Housing Association, Streetlevel Photoworks and local artists, the Red Road Cultural Project hosts a unique range of historical and arts based programmes. We invite previous and current residents of Red Road and surrounding neighbourhoods to commemorate the demolition of the Red Road flats and the end of an era for Glasgow. If you would like to share your story, visit

My Big Welcome Home


loved growing up in and around the Red Road flats. I lived in 459 Petershill Road and my Grandad stayed in 63 Petershill Drive. When I left Glasgow to go on holiday to England, on the way home I would play a game to see how early in the journey I could see the Red Road flats from the motorway. I believe it was somewhere about Motherwell. It was my big welcome home. Most of my friends lived in the Red Road flats, and the area around the flats were our playground. You were never short of someone to play with as there was so many kids about. Summer was spent playing tennis over the low walls in the courts at the bottom of the blocks, or sunbathing or playing handstands over in at the hill. I remember at the top of “the hill” (the grass across the road from the flats) there were wild flowers - the biggest daisy you could ever see. We would pick them and walk through the field to the train line at the back. If you were lucky you would get to see the wild rabbits. The hill was always full of friends and their families having picnics and chat in the sun. The complex of flats and walls and court yard where great for playing hide and seek or pretending to be detectives staking out whatever poor soul we decided to follow. The pub / shopping complex had great bits to climb and high walls to “dreppy down” off of.

But we knew live wasn’t great for everyone. I also have childhood memories of “jumpers”, especially from flat 33. You would be playing in the park at the centre of the flats. Suddenly someone would shout and point up and you would see someone take a jump to their slow death at the bottom.

the papers. It was too windy and icy to walk up the path. A bit up the way there was a frail old lady desperately trying to hold on to handrail and get upright - but the wind and ice were against her. I remember my “mission” to rescue her.

At one time there was a story of someone who jumped from the longer flats and landed in Prestos. Being quite young it was more an oddity that didn’t really make sense until I was older. I am always left though with the image of the man who had jumped and definitely wasn’t dead at the bottom.

I remember back then people were happy when you and your pals, would offer to go get their shopping, or carry their bags. Not sure people would trust a kids these days. Pity. It always made me feel part of the community. I liked the stories the older folk would tell you as you walked with them, pretending their heavy bag of shopping was easy for you to carry. “I remember when this was all fields” they would always say.

When they put the new park in the centre of the flats we loved it. There where the two “parallel bars” (although they where side to side) for us to “burly” over and try to do more and more tricks on. The wooden hut that was in the centre was great for ghost story telling and playing “truth, dare, double dare”. Although the hut didn’t seem to last long! Not really sure what happened to the big brick circle structure that was there either. I think it was there before the play park.

I remember my first year University Geography class. We were discussing poor social housing experiments and deprivation. The lecture announced Glasgow had the worst example of this in the whole of Europe, the people from here had no hope. He discussed this at length. He then popped up a picture of the Red Road flats and my house. I felt like an alien! His overly elaborate description of the wasted lives in the area was a bombshell. I knew things weren’t paradise - but I felt he did my friends and neighbours a terrible disservice.

Winter changed the place. I remember how windy the flats would get. Yes, I remember the mirror in the 26th floor bathroom swaying. I also remember the icy path from 63 block up to the shops. I remember one day being sent for

Yes as a kid you see things differently. I think being from the Red Road flat has taught me not to write off any area, but look for the ordinary folk, not the statistics. Catriona – 1975 – 2002

It Was really hard to get a house in the flats at one point


have a few bad memory’s of my time in the flats, the first one was when a friend of mine took his own life and jumped from the 30th floor. It so sad, I will never forget it. The second one was when myself and my daughter were standing at our window watching a house in the next block, 29 floors up, on fire. We could see the flames and how fast it was spreading, its not that we new the girl that stayed there but we new she had 2 young kids. Thank god they were unharmed and got out in time, but at the time it was terrifying to watch. When I first moved in to the flats in the early 80s and most of the 90s the standard of housing in the red road was alright. The houses were warm, the neighbours were good. It was actually really hard to get a

house in the Red Road flats at one point, but in the few years or so the standards have went right down hill. The houses are frozen, the windows are letting in rain, and the wind that blows through the spaces on the windows could blow dry your hair it is that bad. All the good neighbor friends are all gone, I don’t even know who stays on my landing never mind who stays in my block. The plumbing in the flats in the past 10 year has been unbearable, the dampness is all over the walls in the kitchen, bathroom, hall press, and the window ledges are full of black mould, its a nightmare and has been for years now. Caroline Manuel – 1986 - Present

If You Could Move Your Red Road Flat To Where You Want To Put It


hen my block (123 Petershill Drive) was opened we were the seventh family to move in. Unfortunately we were the first family to experience bereavement with the passing of my dad at the age of 36. That is when a lot of folk realised that our lifts were far too small (8 persons) for a 30 storey building. The coffin had to be upright in the lift. Not the kind of thing you would think about until it happens to someone. The lack of amenities was Red Road’s downfall. The shops came too late, nothing for the kids to do.

One football pitch and 4 play small play areas were not nearly enough for what was the equivalent of the population of Perth. If you ask any person in my age group or older (I am 50) each one will tell you the same thing. If you could move your Red Road flat to where you want to put it, they would. Nothing will ever beat those houses. The houses were great. In the early decades the neighbours were great too. No shortage of places for Hogmanay! Tommy Campbell 1968-75


didn’t personally live in flats, but I dated a man who lived in one of the ‘slab’ buildings when I was 20 and I spent a fair amount of time. I hadn’t stayed in Scotland for too long, I was born here but had been away in US for most my life. I was just amazed first time I went to his place, he lived on the 12th floor in the ‘slab’ building. I just remember as we were approaching the building, looking up and thinking a) I am terrified of heights and b) a feeling of uneasiness at such a huge building with an almost eerie atmosphere. His flat was small and rundown but affordable for him and I almost felt sad for all the residents who lived here with families / small children in such an unkept environment. From the outside I’ve always been amazed at the layout and height of the buildings and I just wish there was someway to remodel them all and save them but I know this is wishful thinking. The skyline is going to change forever and so will our memories fade with the buildings. My heart goes out to all the loyal residents who will have to up and relocate. I am no longer in contact with the ‘love of my life’ who slipped away but most of my fondest memories, were right under that roof, and never again being able to see those buildings in the sky driving past is a pure shame. Alison

Your Home Is Your Castle


y first flat was in the YMCA and then I acquired a flat in Petershill. I loved that flat, 7 storeys up, it had loads of cupboard space, a decent-sized kitchen, a pulley in the bathroom and a balcony off the bedroom which was brilliant for chilling-out on long summer days. The neighbours were great and we looked out for each other. Seeing for the first time all these incredibly tall towers rising up out of nowhere was an awesome experience! But I remember taking my Dad up to Red Road for the first time to see my newlyacquired council flat in Petershill Court: he looked at the flat and said “You’re not going to live in that slum, are you?” But to me your home really is your castle. You must take a pride in it and stand-up for it no matter how bad things (or people) are around you. Colin McConville - 1986-1990

Raising Funds at Red Road

Policing Red Road


was born in June 1970 when my parents first moved in to 30 Petershill Court with my elder sister. I remember my childhood being a very happy one, with lots of other families with kids our age. We all played around together with age groups ranging at that time from 5 - 12 yrs old. We never had computers to keep us occupied, then we played outside with our bikes bats and balls and played games like rounders, hide & seek and two man hunt. There was a group of families from 30 block, The Franks, The Powers, The Butler’s, The Kelly’s, The Brown’s, The Kettle’s and The Armstrong’s, who all done many of things to raise money for charities such as cancer research.
When we were all very young doing things like jumble sales and dance shows at Red Road to raise funds. Which I am glad now that it was cancer charities we raised for as now most of us have lost one or two parents to cancer. The flats back then was such a happy place to be, we all felt very safe and looked after by all our neighbours. So I feel very sad at this stage of my life to see how the Red Road Flats have now become. Carol McLean 1970 – 1987

Policing The Red Road Flats


was a Community Police Officer for the South Balornock area. In my 15 years spent in the police (1989-2005) the 4 years I spent in & around the ‘Red Rd’ were the most enjoyable. I got to know the guys in the Concierge Offices, the staff in the Housing Office as well as the local shops. I also got to know a good many of the local residents and there was a good community spirit in the area, some real rough diamonds but really nice people. I also got to know a good many of the local ‘young team’ and I would like to think that they thought I dealt with them in a

fair manner as they got away with much more when I was on duty than when other cops who patrolled the area. A rough area and never short of incidents, characters or laughs. A colleague I once worked with at Red Road who now lives down south has asked me to make sure I get him a piece of rubble from the demolished flats for him to remember them by. Craig

A Great Place To Grow Up


hough I didn’t realise it at the time, l really enjoyed childhood in the flats. There were lots of families with young children and I grew up knowing just about everyone in 213 Petershill Drive. Anything up to around 30 kids would get together and play British Bulldogs or Kick the Can or whatever sport was on TV - we would all think we were Jimmy Connors for a fortnight in June or Jack Nicholas when the golf was on. All the kids from all the blocks would get tea trays out and slide down hill opposite 123 Block when the snow fell - it seemed to always be up to my waist - I don’t know if that’s because I was so short or the snow was so deep. When I got to secondary school, I was told that tower blocks deprived kids of a proper childhood but I really didn’t know what they were on about, or rather they didn’t! It’s a pity it’s gone downhill but during the 70’s, it was a great place to grow up. Alistair Little 1968-1968

Reflections on Red Road


he first memory of Red Road was when TV cameras came to film at the flats for a news report and all the mums and dads got their kids in and cleaned up for the cameras. I however was out on my bike all day and my parents couldn’t find me. My parents turn on the news that night to see me on the tele, manky from being out on my bike all day at the BMX track being asked if I liked living at the flats, picking my nose and telling the interviewer it was rubbish living there! No one likes to see where they took their first tentative steps as a child raised to the ground, but housing requirements and the state of the flats are such that they must go. I’ll honestly miss the silhouette of them against the Glasgow skyline, and if ever in time of reflection it’s always the red road I drive to. I will miss them. Ian Douglas 1980 - 1989

The Feeling Of Living In The Sky


lived in the Red Road flats from Oct. 1981 to Oct. 1983 when I was a postdoctoral fellow at Strathclyde University. For us it was very exciting to live there, because we found many friends among the students, and with some of them we are still in contact.

In the following January the weather became very cold and all the pipes in Glasgow started being frozen. In our building we never had frozen pipes, so a friend of mine visited me every 3rd day because in his flat in the town there was no water.

We really had the feeling of living in the sky. I remember the beginning of December 1981 and there was a very severe storm over Glasgow and I felt uncomfortable about the safety of the building. It was shaking like a ship and all the Glasgow trash was flying around our heads.

My son was just two years old and we were flying paper air planes from our flat. He was so excited about the distance they were flying from our flat. Sometimes we had full sunshine in the upper floors but below the 10th floor there was drizzle. Really, that was living in the sky!

We lived in the 30th and I stood on my veranda, protected against the storm and saw the other buildings shaking. It was unbelievable.

During my time at Red Road I never had the feeling of being in an unsafe area. The experience we had with the people around us was always very good. Since I had a Ford Transit van I could help people from the council houses to move house to another place in Springburn. They were very friendly and open minded. It is sad that the area took this turn. Dr Peter Härter, Erding, Germany

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