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Extraordinarily ordinary

The Tenement House at 145 Buccleuch Street in Garnethill was built in 1892 by speculative builders, keen to capitalise on Glasgow’s swift industrial boom.

          

Agnes Toward and her widowed mother, Mrs Agnes Reid Toward, moved here in 1911. 

Miss Toward was a shorthand typist for a firm of shipping merchants, Prentice, Service & Henderson. Her mother was a dressmaker, who used the house as her business premises. You can still see her sign in the stair, with its proud boast of ‘no fitting required’. 

After her mother died in 1939, Miss Toward continued to live in the house alone. She never married, and worked until she was in her 70s, similar in many ways to an independent career woman of the 21st century. From Miss Toward’s extensive archive, we can see that she took holidays in Largs on the Ayrshire coast, baked, attended church and enjoyed the theatre and musicals. 

Miss Agnes Toward

In 1965 Agnes’ failing health required her to move to long-term hospital care, where she remained until her death in 1975. Miss Toward left a set of chairs in her will to a church elder, Sam Davidson. When he visited the house to collect them, just before the landlords were about to clear the property before selling it, he took along his niece Anna. She was instantly struck by the need to preserve the house and its contents, and persuaded the owner to sell it to her.  

After 7 years, Anna had to leave Glasgow and decided to sell the house to the National Trust for Scotland in 1982. The Trust has been able to preserve this fascinating part of our national heritage, and has since also bought the two ground floor flats. There are regular exhibitions that reveal various treasures from Miss Toward’s collection – a precious archive of early 20th-century life.

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