Slum and suburb in nineteenth-century Gorbals : a small-scale study of socio-residential change

Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 1981
Thesis identifier
  • T4127
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • During the nineteenth century the rapid growth of towns and the application of urban factory production may have coincided with important increases in the scale of social segregation. This study examines the development of the Gorbals district of Glasgow in that light. By the early and middle decades of the present century, Gorbals had become the archetypal slum. Yet, contrasts survived in architecture and historical records which pointed to a varied, small-scale social topography in the previous century. Change and growth in the nineteenth century social and residential structure were measured using city directory and census data on households, together with a mass of contemporary observation in local records, maps and pictures. The results point to a persistent middle class presence down to the closing decade of the century, especially in the district laid out about 1800 as a suburb. Nearby working-class housing was not the result of 'filtering' as much as lax planning at the original land transfer. As the century progressed more rather than less small-scale social mixing became evident, partly due to an early inner-city redevelopment scheme. However, new housing took on a mixed social and structural profile on the periphery, probably as developers responded to perceived market preferences. The continuity of small-scale social and residential patterns was an important feature throughout the century. As new extensions to streets appeared, they often assumed the social characteristics of the existing sections. The resistance or inertia of the Gorbals bourgeoisie in the face of nearby working-class residence (commonly, within the same tenement) may be seen in the context of Scottish and continental urban tradition. It is possible that the residential heterogeneity found in 'pro-industrial' Edinburgh and Paris survived in part near the centre of industrial Glasgow.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 1981
Former identifier
  • 350653