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18 Sept 2019

Lighting up the Tenement House

A colour photograph looking up at three gas pendant lights, suspended from the ceiling. There is a decorative plaster ceiling rose.
Gas lighting at Glasgow’s Tenement House
We’re shining light on life in a traditional tenement by restoring its original gas lighting.

Stepping inside the Tenement House in Glasgow’s Garnethill gives a rare glimpse into life in Glasgow in the early 20th century.

Miss Agnes Toward lived at 145 Buccleuch Street from 1911 to 1965, and her life has been frozen in time through her remarkable collection of furniture and personal items.

An exterior view of the row of red sandstone buildings that contains the Tenement House in Glasgow. There are leafy trees and shrubs in the gardens.
The Tenement House in Garnethill, Glasgow

Working gaslights, with their cheery glow, distinctive smell and gentle hiss, are an important feature in this authentic time capsule. This modest terraced flat is one of the few places where visitors can still experience them.

Miss Toward preserved her furniture and possessions with love and care. But, over 50 years since she lived in the house, items like the lights – and the pipes supplying them – need to be renovated so they keep working.

“The Tenement House is a treasure trove of everyday history.”
Ana Sanchez, Visitor Services Supervisor
A smiling young woman holds a purple omega-shaped sign that says: National Trust for Scotland | love. She is standing in front of an old-fashioned range in a kitchen.

With a complicated network of pipes running from the main gas supply to the lights, this wasn’t an easy job. We worked with specialist gas engineers to remove the old copper pipes and replace them with new ones so the gas could flow freely once again. The gas lights themselves were also sent to London to be overhauled, and the lights are now once again fully functioning.

Ana Sanchez, Visitor Services Supervisor at the B-listed property, said: ‘Miss Toward would have relied on the gas lights for heat as well as light, so it was important that we replaced these but kept as many of the original features as possible.’

An interior view of the parlour of the Tenement House, displayed as it would have been in the 1950s. A black horsehair chair sits before the fireplace. A piano stands at the edge of the room. A door is open in the corner, revealing the bed recess.
The Tenement House is presented as it was left by Agnes Toward.

The National Trust for Scotland works every day to protect Scotland’s national and natural treasures. From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wilderness, we protect all of this For the Love of Scotland.

In our Strategy for Protecting Scotland’s Heritage 2018–23, we set out how we’re planning to work towards our vision that Scotland’s heritage is valued by everyone and protected now, and for future generations.

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