The notoriously dire Gorbals flats that locals dubbed ‘The Dampies’

Inside months of Queen Elizabeth II handing over the keys to the primary residents of the brand new property in 1972, Glasgow Council started to be flooded with complaints over persistent damp spreading by means of the newly-built blocks at Hutchesontown E.

Changing the realm’s unsanitary and densely-packed nineteenth century tenements that had housed upwards of 27,000 folks, the brand new ‘Hutchie E’ scheme consisted of a dozen pre-fabricated seven-storey deck entry blocks and two 24-storey tower blocks by Gilbert Ash (Scotland) Ltd.

However an important flaw within the design of the brand new houses would see half the scheme condemned and razed to the bottom inside simply 15 years.

As early as winter 1972, rising damp was steadily masking partitions, fittings and furnishings on the new flats with a black mildew.

The 12 deck entry blocks have been among the many worst affected by the creeping mould. Residents branded them ‘The Dampies’.

Children playing in the playground at Hutchesontown E in 1973 with 'The Dampies' visible in the background. Picture: Scottish Daily Express Photo by Eric McCowan.
Kids enjoying within the playground at Hutchesontown E in 1973 with ‘The Dampies’ seen within the background. Image: Scottish Every day Categorical Photograph by Eric McCowan.

The Gorbals’ Victorian ‘slums’ have been all however cleared, however this was undoubtedly not the brand new daybreak that Hutchie E’s residents had dreamt about.

Brian McCann’s household have been among the many first to maneuver into the Dampies at Crown Road. He remembers the drastic and dear measures his dad and mom took to include the mould.

He instructed Glasgow Live : “By the second winter, we seen that me and my brother’s room, which was on the gable finish, was extraordinarily chilly. By the third and fourth winter, the dampness confirmed up as black mould all up and down the nook partitions that confronted out to Crown Road.

“My da’ and massive brother needed to maintain making an attempt to cowl it up with this vivid orange anti-damp paint after which a particular, very thick, sort of wallpaper. It got here like a roll of carpet and was very costly.”

However the damp was not simply destroying carpets and furnishings, it was an actual well being hazard too. By 1975, many residents have been experiencing respiratory issues, and there have been growing studies of beetle infestations.

Carpet beetle larvae thrived within the damp situations, whereas the reek of the mould acquired into folks’s garments and private possessions. Spores within the air brought about refrigerated meals to go off.

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Lots of of residents gathered to protest to the newly-formed Glasgow District Council in regards to the dire state of the brand new housing. Not solely did the complaints fall on deaf ears, the council had the audacity to assert that the residents themselves have been accountable. Lease strikes have been organised.

Brian McCann remembers: “My dad and mom joined with the neighbours and used a solicitor to pay the hire, because the council did nothing for the entire group. The hire strike wasn’t a strike as such, however as a substitute of paying the council, most households paid the month-to-month hire to the solicitor as a strategy to combat for higher situations.

“By the late ‘70s, the Dampies have been beginning to be emptied. It was a disgrace, as a result of, aside from the dampness, the group was an important place to develop up in. We knew everybody and have been shut with numerous households.

“I discover it shameful that no-one was dropped at justice for the apparent felony actions of not placing in the appropriate insolation and all-weather roofing.

“In the event that they’d been constructed correctly, these homes would have nonetheless been part of the Gorbals, however everyone knows how that went.”

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Hutchesontown E was not the one poorly-designed property. Different areas of the Gorbals have been experiencing damp too, most notably Sir Basil Spence’s Queen Elizabeth Sq. tower blocks in Hutchesontown Space C.

Sir Basil had been impressed by Le Corbusier’s revolutionary social housing initiatives in Marseilles. Making use of the identical design rules within the moist and windy local weather of the Gorbals, nevertheless, would show disastrous. The Queen Elizabeth flats would final simply 30 years earlier than being demolished in September 1993.

‘The Dampies’, nevertheless, lasted solely half so long as Queen Elizabeth Sq..

As their tenth anniversary approached in 1982, the blocks have been already half-deserted. Those that opted to remain put now needed to put up with squatters, drug addicts and different excessive anti-social issues.

In 1985, Glasgow District Council voted to demolish stricken blocks, which have been by then principally boarded up and derelict. They’re gone inside 18 months, leaving two sq. miles of wasteland. Hutchie E’s remaining twin tower blocks have been demolished in 2013.

The semi-abandoned and vandalised Gorbals E blocks were up for sale in 1982. Picture: Scottish Express/Gordon Forbes.
The semi-abandoned and vandalised Gorbals E blocks have been up on the market in 1982. Image: Scottish Categorical/Gordon Forbes.

Ex-construction engineer, Thomas McCreadie, had a hand within the development of ‘The Dampies’ at Hutchie E, and says using the infamous ‘Tracoba’ technique in constructing the flats performed an important function of their downfall.

Tracoba was a pre-fabricated system developed in Belgium that was used within the development of quite a few new housing initiatives in post-war Europe. It was not suited to moist climates.

Thomas instructed Glasgow Live : “I labored on ‘The Dampies’. That they had been constructed utilizing a concrete system referred to as Tracoba.

“A horizontal concrete beam ran from one finish to the opposite at three totally different ranges by means of each home in any respect ranges, and since these beams have been protruding outdoors the construction, the water simply travelled alongside coming into each home and inflicting large dampness in every single place – a very horrible design.”


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