Funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and supported by Oral History Research & Training Consultancy, and Communities Past & Futures Society, ‘Nitshill Memories’ focuses on the former mining village of Nitshill, now a district in the ward of Greater Pollok on the south side of Glasgow; this project explores the oral history of the village and its residents.
Nitshill was once a tight industrial hub concentrated around mineral and ore extraction, including coal, and in the nineteenth century, the village had been the site of one of Britain’s worst coal mining accidents. A century later, much of the earlier village was demolished as it grew to accommodate people relocated during the Glasgow slum clearances of the 1950s and 1960s. An unintended consequence was that the new housing programme severely disrupted networks of old communities and extended families. Older residents were often dismayed to witness the changes. Meanwhile, new residents often lived far away from their existing places of work, and there were few opportunities for work locally as any surviving local industries and manufacturing jobs were threatened and eventually lost amidst the clamour for housing land. Worse yet, many of the post war tenements were reputedly of poor quality and suffered from damp, condensation, and lack of soundproofing.
However, almost everyone who spoke with us had wonderful memories of Nitshill and its close community, and they shared stories with us about growing up and living in the village. Volunteers and staff received professional oral history training and set about identifying, contacting, and recording the memories of forty people with connections to Nitshill. The resulting oral testimonies have unveiled the rich community spirit which existed during their childhoods up to recent times. Respondents told us about their families, their neighbours, where and how they played, school days and growing up in Nitshill. Their stories are warm, funny, informative, and always sincere.
There has been a sustained effort to improve housing stock in recent years, and many of those post-war schemes and industrial brown sites have been demolished and replaced with modern housing estates. Our respondents have told us that these new houses are great, but they feel that the building of new schemes has led to further family and friend dispersals, and the erosion of that once vibrant community spirit. This may be too harsh an assessment, and maybe that longstanding community spirit will survive and flourish. That is a matter for the new residents of Nitshill, and perhaps a story for another day.