Maryhill, Glasgow, May 1974

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Originally posted 2018-09-18 07:57:20.

Maryhill, the poor part of Glasgow’s West End, in 1974, was a different world. Looking back on these pictures, forty-five years later, I am still moved.

When I came to the Philippines first, a kind but unaware French friend told me that I would see poverty such as I had never seen before. I had not the heart to tell him; I had seen worse — in Maryhill, Glasgow, for one.

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maryhill glasgow
Maryhill, Glasgow in 1974

Yet on the other hand I have so many memories of Maryhill, Glasgow and most of them are good. I was never robbed, beaten up or threatened there. Nobody ever asked if I was a Catholic or a Protestant — a question I would get used to later. People were poor, yes, many had no shoes; but they had community and mutual respect. I see that today in the Philippines. We lost a great deal when we lost that.

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Maryhill, Glasgow in 1974

Maryhill was not the only area in Glasgow that suffered from poverty and urban deprivation. Others, like the Gorbals, were arguably even more so and certainly were more famous. But Maryhill was adjacent to Kelvinbridge, a middle-class area and this made it more interesting. Indeed, after 1974, city policy was to gentrify the area.

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Was Maryhill, Glasgow, really that bad?

I don’t believe so. It was perhaps, a part of a world in passing, a hangover from a past when Glasgow was one of Britain’s great industrial cities and people came from all over Scotland and Ireland to find work. They did so in the shipyards, the factories and the service industries that were needed to sustain what was, then, a major world city.

Despite the faded glory, Glaswegians retained a humour that was truly amazing, and a welcome that matched it. Billy Connolly, of course, who comes from the Gorbals, another poor area, has made that humour global. Long may that, at least, persist.

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