Tenements are probably the most uniquely-Glasgow type of housing in Scotland’s largest city. These large apartment buildings are distinguishable by their shared entrance and (formerly) communal areas such as gardens, toilets, and washrooms, as well as by normally being built in rows of near-identical constructions. This is the case along Buccleuch Street, where the last building of its row houses a museum known appropriately as the Tenement House.
Occupying the first and second levels of its tenement building, the Tenement House Museum extends beyond the former apartment of Miss Agnes Toward. Toward lived in the building from 1911 to 1965, and most of the remaining decoration dates to the Victorian Era. A large number of everyday items such as toiletries and cooking ingredients from those decades fill up the space, creating an impression of what tenement life might have once been like.
Outside of her former quarters, a neighboring apartment now houses her extensive collection of handwritten letters, which go on to bring these years gone by to life even more intensely. Beyond objects and furnishings, the architecture of the tenement itself stands as a testimony of life in Glasgow during the first half of the 20th century. Looking into nooks in both the kitchen and living room, one can see the peculiar wardrobe beds, which for families were often the sleeping quarters of children but, in the case of a single woman like Miss Toward, would have commonly gone to visitors.
The Tenement House stands as a testimony not only to the history of the world-changing decades it represents, but also to the everyday life of tenement dwellers. In the case of Glasgow, this means a look into the realities of the working and middle classes, often underrepresented in museography.
Know Before You Go
For opening times and ticket pricing, visit their website. This is also where one can find information about lectures, events, and behind-the -scenes topics.
As an added bonus, going at Christmas time gives visitors a glimpse of the holiday during this festive period. With cards and decorations adorning the various rooms.