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No Mean City: 1914 to 1950s

Everyday Life

Public Services

By Irene Maver

Health visitor, 1920s The First World War made a profound impact on the organisation of Glasgow's public services. Government promises of social reconstruction led to a fundamental assessment of health, welfare and educational provision. From 1919 there was greater administrative centralisation under state control; for instance, funding for health care was allocated via the Scottish Office. The identification of acute housing shortages during the war prompted the provision of state subsidies for public sector building, which immediately began in earnest in Glasgow.

38 Kelvin Street, Maryhill Government intervention intensified municipal responsibilities. Housing, in particular, was added to the wide range of services administered by Glasgow Corporation, as the Town Council was by then known. In the twenty years after 1919 57,000 new Corporation dwellings were completed, but there was also emphasis during the 1930s on slum clearance. Moreover, Scottish local government reorganisation in 1929 substantially extended municipal powers by transferring schooling provision to the Corporation, along with arrangements for dealing with poor relief or "public assistance".

Precasting Factory, Tollcross Despite the expansion of public services, the experience of the Depression had glaringly exposed the extent of Glasgow's social problems. During and immediately after the Second World War practical solutions were proposed in ambitious plans for the city's reconstruction. From 1948 an intensive municipal housing drive was undertaken in new estates such as Castlemilk and Drumchapel. Planning strategies were further consolidated with a massive comprehensive development programme to transform slum districts during the 1950s. Central government also focused on the need for a physically healthier community, and the centralised National Health Service for Scotland was created in 1948.

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