'The Gorbals Boys' – Glasgow, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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'The Gorbals Boys'

A sculpture that commemorates an iconic photo of urban Scotland's past. 


The Gorbals is an area south of Glasgow’s city center. 

It’s believed its name derived from a leper colony where charitable people would leave food for the unfortunate inhabitants after ringing the “gory bells,” this area is steeped in rich social history. This is largely due to Gorbals’ proximity to the city center. The area has attracted thousands of people throughout the centuries in search of work. 

In the 1920s and 1930s, Gorbals was notorious for its razor gangs. Due to its dense population, the area also became synonymous with slum tenements. It was (and still is) home to thousands of ordinary Glaswegians and always had many children playing in the streets.

The Gorbals of today is unrecognizable from the old days which so many Glaswegians fondly remember, but those memories were nostalgically captured forever by photojournalist Oscar Marzoli. One of his most famous works of art depicts three little boys playing with their mothers’ high heels in the 1960s.

Local sculptor Liz Peden decided to recreate the scene and created a sculpture with the children playing back on the street again. In 2008, her artwork was unveiled by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 

The three little statues stand on the corner of Cumberland Street and Queen Elizabeth Gardens. 

Update as of March 2023: Unfortunately, two of the three statues have been vandalized.

Know Before You Go

This artwork is free to visit and has easy viewing access for mobility vehicles and wheelchairs. 

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July 30, 2021

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