Urban Decay and Regeneration

Theme 11: Retail and Urban Change Yr 11

Urban Decay and Regeneration. A Look at Glasgow.

Glasgow was once the heartland of Britains Industrial revolution, During the 18th and 19th Century, the 2nd city’ of the UK manufactured everything from bricks, to steel, to Navy vessels and submarines. Goods were transported to and from the once thriving port of Glasgow on the River Clyde. Since the 1960’s Glasgow started to shed its huge industrial workforce and the steelworks, docklands and inner-city industries closed down. The area fell into decline so dramatically that by 1969 it was labelled the 3rd World City of Britain.

Aim of activity. In this task you are going to look at characteristics of urban decline in Glasgow and how the area has tried to redevelop/regenerate itself.

Objective 1 – To analyse the effects of the industrial revolution on Glasgow’s housing.

Objective 2 – To evaluate the regeneration schemes of the 1960’s and 70’s in Glasgow.

Objective 3 - To research modern day regeneration schemes in and around Glasgow.

PUPIL TASK – This piece of work will culminate in an essay question.

“Describe and explain the reasons for urban decay in the city of Glasgow and evaluate the effectiveness of the regeneration schemes of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Key Command Words:

DESCRIBE – Write down the conditions which led to urban decay. What is urban decay- define it.

EXPLAIN – Explain why these conditions evolved. Mention population, industry and poorly paid jobs.

EVALUATE – Sum up everything

See - How to write an essay.

Questions To answer

Glasgow 1800 - 1960

1.  How many people live in Glasgow?

2.  What is the name of the river?

3.  What were the main industries in the 19th and early 20th Century?

4.  Why do you think Glasgow was once called the second city of Britain?

5.  What is a picture house?

6.  The tenement flats of inner-city Glasgow were built during the first half of the 19th Century as a quick fix solution to the increasing numbers of workers moving in to Glasgow for work. Describe the style of the flats.

7.  What problems were there for residents of these tenement blocks?

8.  What is meant by ‘irregular’ work?

9.  How many people were living in ‘slum’ conditions around the 1950’s?

10.  What types of housing replaced the old tenement flats in the city of Glasgow during the 1960’s?

Redevelopment in Inner City Glasgow 1960’s

1.  What does regeneration mean?

2.  High Rise Flats were seen as a solution to Glasgow’s housing problems. However they too brought massive problems. List some of these problems?

3.  What is unique about Glasgow’s city motorway?

4.  What proportion of Glasgow’s inner city population has been re-housed elsewhere since the regeneration scheme.

5.  Describe the way the city was growing during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

6.  What social problems arose has families moved to the ‘New Towns’ or housing estates.

Urban Renewal (1976)

1.  By the middle of the 1970’s all heavy industry (except one ship yard) had gone! What did the government see as a way to help industry set up?

2.  Demolish or improve – With the problems of high rise flats the Glasgow council completed altered its planning approach – what did this change in approach involve.

3.  How many families have been re-housed in tenement housing in the inner-city?

4.  Why do you think 25,000 people a year are moving out of the city each year?

5.  What year do you think the video was made?

Urban Decay and Renewal

Pupils Examples



Urban decay is the process by which an urban city, all be it a city or town, falls into a state of disrepair. Has for what is meant by disrepair depends on the local authority or groups of individuals responsible, but one thing is clear – different local authorities undertake different strategies at dealing with urban decay and what constitutes disrepair in one authority could simply mean modernisation in another.

Glasgow has long since seen the end of the traditional industries such as shipbuilding and iron and steel production. Yet it is these particular industries which shaped the city and ultimately has continued to affect it since it demise in the 1960’s.

At the turn of the 19th Century, Glasgow established itself as a leading contributor to Britain’s manufacturing industry. Turning out locomotives, ships and other technological super structures of the industrial revolution, Glasgow attracted workers from all across the UK. Within this influx of workers began the first problems – how do we house them?

During the Victorian era (1819 – 1901) tenement flats were seen as the answer to housing large groups of industrial workers and their families next to their work place. However these tenement blocks were still common in Glasgow’s inner city during the first half of the 20th century and this began having a serious affect on peoples lives who lived there. With no running water, inside toilet or even another room (most tenement flats were one rooms) overcrowding and disease were common. Household waste (ashes from coal fire), human waste and waste of domestic animals were strewn across the backyards in areas were children played and people walked. The appearance of rat colonies were also part and parcel of life in the tenement blocks of areas such as the Gorbals. Rivers and streams were used as dumping grounds for this and other household waste and with no proper cooking facilities (only open fire) many regarded these tenement blocks as a major ‘eye saw’ to the city. So by the 1950’s the local council authority had decided it was time to act – much later than when they should have intervened! At the same time many of the jobs in the industrial heartland of Glasgow had began experiencing global markets and this led to many men facing ‘irregular’ work and therefore less pay.

In 1957 the ‘Comprehensive Redevelopment’ scheme was announced which included many of Glasgow’s inner city regions benefiting from urban regeneration which intended to knock down the worst affected areas and re-build modern high rise flats and new road infrastructure.

However, for many groups of people who lived and worked in Glasgow’s inner city, these tower blocks were also going to bring with them major social and environmental problems. Poor design, badly constructed and visually ‘ugly’ the high rise flats (Glasgow with the highest in the UK) were an instant dislike by many Glaswegians and despite the awards offered to their architects, there seemed little evidence to suggest careful planning (particularly when you think of the young families on the 26th floor who would be constantly worried about the possible dangers or the elderly couple a few floors below who couldn’t climb the stairs when the lifts were out of order). In addition, the flats broke up communities and led to social unrest as noisy neighbours could be heard from above and below the thinly made ceilings and walls. While the flats did achieve its principle aim of dealing with overcrowding in the inner city – all these people sharing such a limited space was bound to cause major problems.

Another major problem of urban re-development in Glasgow during the 1960’ and 70’s was the creation of housing estates and ‘new towns’ on the edge of the city. These were built in areas where there weren’t land restraints as in the inner city so houses (made of bricks) could be built instead of huge tower blocks. While this seemed a more suitable approach, it too brought problems to those who lived there. Firstly, people had to move away from areas where they lived all their lives. Family’s, friends and even whole communities were split up and ‘forced’ to move to available homes on the outskirts of the city. Secondly, many older residents had to use busses to visit family relatives and in some cases these journeys could take an hour or more. This meant that families could spend convenient times together as the prospect of making the journey at suitable time of the day were always difficult. Today, these housing estates are associated with drug/drink addiction, criminal activities and general anti-social behaviour as poorer families with social difficulties largely inhabit them.

By the late1970’s it had become clear that the once ‘irrepressible’ arm of the industrial era was coming to an abrupt end. Unemployment was at a peak high, wages low and morale of a country sapped from beneath its feet.

The move towards industrial estates was vitally important for many manufacturing jobs at this time. With aid of government grants and re-training initiatives, some of the ‘fall out’ from heavy industry was suppressed by these jobs. In some cases the jobs were so popular that there would be 50 applicants per job – this reflecting the overall need in the area!