Monday, 1 August 2011
Now You See Them...
Yesterday, in an area of Dundee called the Hilltown, four multi-storey blocks were demolished in a series of controlled explosions. The demolition is particularly amazing because these blocks were in a residential/business area which gave no leeway for the demolition company. As you can see, all was well.
I remember the area back in the 50s when it was a bustling community with housing desperately in need of maintenance and many of the tenements still shared toilet facilities. My school friend's mother had a draper's shop - which would be called a women's boutique today - and we both helped out on Saturdays. She would offer tea and biscuits at 4pm and women from the surrounding homes would squeeze into the shop for the last two hours of the week, not to drink tea, but to catch up on local affairs in a warm environment. Often we would be there washing up until at least 7pm while Mrs Clarke counted her takings. Being an astute business woman I'm sure she made a few pounds from her Saturday soirees.
When I returned to visit my school friend in the 60s, she had been allocated a house in one of these multis. Not being a lover of lifts, I trudged to the 11th floor to visit her brand-new daughter and gaze at the exceptional view she had over the junction of the Tay and the North Sea. A year or so later my friend and her husband had saved enough to buy their own small home and I was never subjected to the climb of a multi again.
Were these concrete blocks built to give local people a better home or were they built for financial gain? Probably a bit of both. The old homes could have been modernised but that would have been an expensive project, so the city fathers saw these concrete towers as a way to resolve the housing issue and make money at the same time. Sadly, much of old Dundee's Hilltown community vanished when these towering structures rose out of the ground.
Will they be missed? Perhaps by some but not by me. Dundee's council leaders have been fond of destroying the heritage of the city over the years and the 60s produced some monstrous architecture, most of which has already been demolished and replaced by more aesthetically pleasing buildings. Yesterday the landscape was enhanced by their disappearance.
video via Tris