Retro photos of Glasgow show Cowcaddens and Townhead towers in the 1980s

There are few segments of Glasgow city center that have seen more change than Townhead and Cowcaddens.

Compare a side-by-side aerial view of pre- and post-1970 neighborhoods and you’ll see a stark difference.

Once dominated by crowded 19th-century tenements, historic neighborhoods saw seismic change in the 1960s as a massive program of urban improvement gathered pace.

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Declared an area for comprehensive development in 1962, much of the old Townhead, including the almost legendary Parliament Road, has been wiped off the map to make way for the M8, a new university area and high-rise buildings.

The old Cowcaddens have also quickly become a distant memory as tower blocks and various major cultural and educational developments, such as the Scottish Piping Centre, Scottish Media Offices and Glasgow Caledonian University, have replaced the traditional stone buildings.

Gradually, familiar streets and buildings disappeared, the community moved, and the townscape was changed forever. In Townhead, the population grew from an estimated 19,000 in 1960 to around 7,000. The Cowcaddens witnessed the same, as families moved to the outskirts of town.

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Much of the community that remained was relocated to new multi-storey dwellings. In 1968 Townhead’s skyline was dominated by four 25-storey towers (the Tounheid Flats), with 24-storey ‘twins’ Dundasvale being built in Cowcaddens and another 23-storey block s’ raising a decade later.

In the 1980s, Professor Miles Glendinning captured photographs of the Townhead and Cowcaddens towers, all of which still stand today. You can view them by clicking on the link below.

A University of Edinburgh project called Tower Block United Kingdom, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has collected and preserved Professor Glendinning’s images of post-war apartment towers as important parts of our heritage and social history. The images shown here are from the extensive collection.

To learn more, click here.

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