An ornament of a white and brown dog with a chain on its collar.
Greater Glasgow & The Clyde Valley

The Tenement House

Mrs Agnes Toward (nee Reid)

The Reid family resided in the rural areas of Stirlingshire, specifically in the parishes of Larbert and Dunipace. Her father, David Reid, was born in Larbert, Stirlingshire in 1823, while her mother, Helen Rhind, was born in Edinburgh in 1845 and passed away in 1908 in Glasgow. She had three siblings: James, William, and Helen. Unfortunately, William passed away at the age of 10 and Helen at the same age in 1866 due to Tuberculosis. In addition to being a loving father, David Reid was also a travelling merchant, engaging in various occupations such as potato merchant, grocer, and warehouseman. Eventually, he settled with his wife and children in Glasgow during the 1850s.

Miss Reid and Mr William Toward were married on 29 April 1884, at 4pm in the Bath Hotel in Glasgow following a traditional Victorian courtship. We hold their wedding invitation in our archive.

Mr Toward, a travelling merchant, often sent letters to Miss. Reid from various hotels across the country. During that era, it was common for weddings to be held in hotels rather than churches or registry offices. Although we we don‘t know how they first met, their correspondence suggests a successful match!

A sepia image of a lady standing with her arms behind her back wearing a buttoned down dress.
Mrs. Toward as a young woman
“My own dear Agnes,
… You know I am very fond of you Agnes dear and I must give vent to my feelings by expressing them in so many words altho’ words seem very inadequate … Well I can hardly realise that you have promised to be my wife. I thought I should have had to wait a long time before it came to that.”
Excerpt from a letter from Mr William Toward to Miss Agnes Reid

At the time of their marriage, Mr Toward was around 40 years old, while Miss Reid was 26. This age gap was typical as many men needed to work for a considerable period before being able to support a wife and household. Mr and Mrs Toward likely got engaged in October 1883 and were married by April the following year. In a letter to the future Mrs Toward regarding their engagement, William wrote: ‘If you are agreeable I don’t think we need wait a very long time ... I should have the two or three hundred pounds I spoke of by the month of March or April.’

During the late Victorian era, middle-class marriages were anticipated to be based on companionship, with the idea of marrying for love being an ideal to strive for. Mr Toward and Mrs Toward seemed to embody this ideal, as their courtship letters revealed a deep sense of personal attachment.

A sepia image of two people seating, with another person standing and resting their arm on the shoulder of one of the people seated.
Mr and Mrs Toward, pictured with Mrs Toward‘s mother, Mrs Reid, shortly after their wedding day

Mr and Mrs Toward had three daughters, two of whom passed away in infancy. This made the mid-1880s a sad period for Mrs Toward.

On 10 May 1885, Helen Thomson Toward, their daughter, was born but tragically succumbed to whooping cough just six weeks later.

Then, on 19 September 1886, Agnes Toward was born at the same address. It‘s important to note that before 1915, midwives did not receive professional training. The majority of births before 1914 occurred at home, with 95% of them being home births. Given this information, we can confidently assume that Agnes was born at 153 Renfrew Street, where her parents lived.

Jane Toward, their third daughter, was born on 10 May 1888.

Sadly, on 4 August 1889 William Toward, Mrs Toward‘s husband, passed away. The address listed at the time of his passing was 94 Hill Street. This left Mrs Toward as a widow with two young daughters, Agnes and Jane. The introduction of the Married Women‘s Property Act in 1881 allowed Victorian middle-class women to possess their own property and assets, a significant advancement for both married women and widows. As a widow, Mrs Toward enjoyed a certain level of independence, as she possessed the skill of dressmaking to support herself and her family.

Tragedy struck again on 21 November 1891 when Jane Toward died of tuberculosis aged two years and six months.

Therefore, Agnes and her mother were with each other for most of her life as Mrs Toward never remarried, contributing to their close relationship.

“My dear little chickie,
… my dearie please be quite happy and enjoy yourself for Mama’s sake and grow big and ... strong … from your own Mama xxxxxxxx”
Excerpt from a note from Mrs Toward to Agnes
16 June 1893

Mrs Toward had a thriving dressmaking business with shops on different streets at different times. To supplement her income, she received assistance from organisations like the Glasgow Benevolent Society and Hutchesons’ Hospital. It was common for women like Mrs Toward to be entrepreneurs during that time. In fact, between 1851 and 1911, women owned around 27–30% of all businesses. Women particularly dominated the clothing manufacturing and personal services sectors. In many households, the wife ran a business while the husband worked as a wage labourer, a common arrangement for laundresses and dressmakers. As a single mother, Mrs Toward had to continue working since there was no formal social security system.

During Mrs Toward’s working hours, her mother helped care for Agnes and even took her on holidays to Largs and Millport. Additionally, Agnes’ two paternal aunts also assisted in looking after her from time to time. This meant that Agnes grew up surrounded by a supportive group of women who played a significant role in her upbringing.

A brass sign on a wall which reads: Mrs Toward, dressmaker, no fitting required, first floor
Mrs Toward‘s dressmaker‘s sign

In 1911, Mrs Toward and Agnes relocated to 145 Buccleuch Street (the Tenement House), near the newly opened Mitchell Library. By May 1912, she decided to close the last of her draper’s shops but continued to see clients privately from her home. Agnes started working as a shorthand typist in 1914, supporting her mother financially. The Rent Act was approved in 1915 and Mrs Toward occasionally took in lodgers for extra income.

Mrs Toward passed away on 26 May 1939, at 145 Buccleuch Street aged 81. Throughout her life, she saw many changes in Glasgow and the way that people lived and worked in the city, including the development of the Subway, the Glasgow School of Art and University of Glasgow Gilmore Hill buildings being built, two international exhibitions, and two world wars. She was an independent woman, working and looking after her family in a time of continuous change. Letters of condolence to Agnes Toward illustrate the close relationship she and her mother had right until the end of her mother’s life. Agnes kept many of her mother’s objects, not just her own. Their close relationship over the years has been immortalised in the things Agnes lovingly kept for all those years; this makes the house Mrs Toward’s story as much as it is Agnes’.

Miss Agnes Toward

Agnes was born in a house on Renfrew Street in September 1886, just a stone’s throw away from the Tenement House.

Her father, William, who worked as a commercial traveller in metals, passed away when she was only three years old. Sadly, her two sisters also passed away in infancy, leaving Agnes and her mother alone.

Agnes was raised by her mother, who shared the same name and made a living as a dressmaker. They lived in different houses in the Garnethill district before settling at 145 Buccleuch Street (the Tenement House). Her maternal grandmother used to take care of young Agnes while her mother was at work.

She had a close bond with her mother, who owned a shop on 245 Sauchiehall Street near Mackintosh at the Willow.

A sepia photograph of Agnes Toward. It is a head-and-shoulders shot. She wears a velvet top and a double string of pearls.
Agnes Toward as a young woman

In our collection, we have some of Agnes’ childhood letters, schoolwork and small plays that she enjoyed creating. Additionally, there are drawings on the back of her mother’s work papers and invoices.

Agnes’ thirst for knowledge led her to Garnethill Public School on Buccleuch Street, a building that still stands today, now converted into flats near the Tenement House. She then continued her education at Woodside Higher Grade School, now the Old School House (a pub) and The Stand comedy club. Her academic journey culminated at the Glasgow Athenaeum Commercial College, where she honed her skills as a shorthand typist.

Agnes’ love for writing was evident from a young age. She would pen letters to her mother, capturing her thoughts and experiences. Our archive holds a treasure trove of her childhood, from lists of Christmas gifts to her favourite pantomimes, and even her early drawings. As she matured, she began to keep copies of the letters she sent to her friends, a practice that mirrors our modern ‘sent’ folders. This habit provides us with a window into her life and thoughts, as expressed in her own words.

Agnes dedicated her entire career to working as a shorthand typist, forming strong bonds with colleagues and friends. She finally retired at the impressive age of 73!

Glasgow‘s rapid commercial growth in the late 1800s created a demand for office staff, a need that women largely filled. The introduction of the typewriter in the 1880s opened up new avenues for women, who were often considered to have the right temperament for office work. However, societal norms dictated that women were paid less than their male counterparts and were expected to leave their jobs upon marriage, a practice that persisted until after World War II.

Agnes‘ career spanned over five decades, during which she worked with two prominent Glasgow shipping companies. She started her journey with Miller & Richards in 1907, where she honed her skills as a shorthand typist. In 1914, she transitioned to Prentice, Service & Henderson, where she remained until her retirement in 1959.

In a letter to a friend in Canada in 1958, Agnes excitedly shared: ‘Did I tell you we now get Saturday off every fortnight? It is fine to have a long lie.’

A black and white photograph of men and women standing in a group. Most standing, whilst three sit at the front.
Agnes Toward (pictured in the black coat) on a work outing

Like many Glaswegians, Agnes enjoyed holidays to Clyde Coast resorts such as Kirn, Dunoon, and Largs. As time passed, she explored further destinations like Blackpool and the Isle of Man. Despite visiting Kent once, her heart remained loyal to Largs, her favourite resort.

During the war, Agnes‘ spirit remained undaunted. She was fortunate enough to go on holiday, but it wasn't without its challenges. Ration books and emergency cards had to be considered, and she even had to remember to bring a little jam or marmalade with her, a testament to her resourcefulness.

Agnes never got married. After her mother passed away in 1939, she continued to live alone in their house, holding onto many objects that provided insight into her preferences, such as her favourite perfume and food. These objects also shed light on her day-to-day life.

Living through a period of significant international change, from the height of the British Empire to the days of the Commonwealth, Agnes, like many Scots, knew numerous individuals who had emigrated in search of a better life. Fortunately, we have letters written by Agnes and her friends, which offer a glimpse into the ordinary lives of those who chose to move abroad.

Agnes occasionally decorated her house and installed electric lights in 1960 but made no other major changes.

In a letter to a friend in April 1935, Agnes wrote: ‘I have been thinking a little about putting in electric light – the cost, however, might be £25 ... I do get exasperated with the poor light in the kitchen in the winter, and am afraid I say quite nasty things when I go into presses, or the rooms without my torch.’

Agnes was a keen baker and kept many recipes, often written on a typewriter with annotations to suit her kitchen range, which you can still see in the house today.

Unfortunately, Agnes fell ill in 1965 and had to be admitted to the hospital, where she passed away in 1975. Despite leading an ordinary life, preserving her relatively unmodernised home and her collection of everyday objects provides an extraordinary glimpse into life in early 20th-century Glasgow.

Anna Davidson

The Tenement House‘s survival and collection are largely thanks to the lifestyle of Agnes Toward and the vision of Miss Anna Davidson.

In 1965, Agnes Toward was unable to care for herself and was admitted to the hospital, where she stayed until she passed away in 1975 at the age of 79. During her hospital stay, her lawyer continued to pay the rent for her flat. However, the landlords wanted to clear the flat to modernise and sell it after her death. Without any friends or family to handle her belongings, most of them would have been discarded. Fortunately, Agnes had included a set of chairs in her will, which she left to her church elder, Mr. Sam Davidson. Mr. Davidson, accompanied by his niece Anna, who stayed with him temporarily while attending a casting in Glasgow, visited the house to collect the chairs. Little did Anna know that this casual visit to assist her uncle would profoundly impact her life. Thanks to Anna‘s efforts, today, thousands of visitors from around the world come to Agnes‘ house to experience its history.

A black and white image of a woman sitting on a chair in an old fashioned living room with a fireplace to the left and a piano behind her.
Anna Davidson in the parlour of the Tenement House
“I felt like Pip in the film version of Great Expectations, when he stood at the door of the room Miss. Havisham had occupied as a recluse for so many years.”
Anna Davidson

Driven by a deep sense of duty, Anna was appalled to learn of the impending dismantling of Miss Toward’s home. With unwavering determination, she convinced the owners to sell it to her, along with its precious contents. For seven years, Anna made the house her home, gradually uncovering the immense historical significance she had rescued from the brink of destruction. This period of her life was not just thrilling, but a testament to her unwavering commitment to preservation. She meticulously sorted through the abandoned items, unearthing countless treasures and weaving together the stories of the previous occupants through their documents and belongings.

Anna has fond memories of her time in the house, especially the weekends when she would don a boiler suit and immerse herself in cleaning. Each corner of the house held a surprise, from old boxes of chocolates to newspapers and even Victorian dresses. These discoveries were not just historical artifacts but windows into the lives of those who had lived there before. Anna also recalls with great joy the moment she learned of the Trust‘s interest in the property, a testament to her emotional attachment to the house.

When Anna Davidson left Glasgow in 1982, she decided to sell the house to the National Trust for Scotland, ensuring its preservation as a vital part of the nation‘s heritage.

Today, Anna is immensely grateful to the dedicated team of staff and volunteers who continue to help more people learn about Agnes‘ life and the vibrant history of Glasgow at the turn of the century.

A conversation with Anna Davidson


We're here today on Oban with Anna Davidson; Rachel Campbell, Visitor Services Supervisor of the Tenement House; Emma Inglis, Curator of Glasgow and the west, and myself, I'm Ana, I'm the Visitor Services Manager

She has all these wonderful memories, and we're just so excited to chat with you and learn all about it, so we have some questions that we'd like to ask you just hear anything you would like to tell us and share with us. I'm going to let Emma set the scene.

Okay I'm going I'm going to kick off because I'm really interested in these first photographs that you showed of the kind of, slightly grainy, photographs of when you first arrived in the flat and I know it's probably a story that you've told many times before, but I wonder if you could just kind of tell us your first impressions when you opened the door and what your first memories were of walking into the flat?

I was just fascinated by what was there and how it had survived. It was difficult to see what was there because it was so covered with stuff that had been taken out of drawers. There were papers and boxes and things piled up, but I could see that there were horsehair chairs, and in the kitchen, there were the remains of an old range, but it had been scattered across the floor by a plumber's sledgehammer! The bed and the bedroom — I just felt that so many tenements had been modernised and the bed in the wall had been made into a kitchen annex and things have been changed — ranges have been taken out and fireplaces have been modernised, and it would be a shame if it happened to all of them and then it was too late to wish they still had one, so I wanted to find some way of rescuing it and I didn't quite know how to set about it but one thing led to another.

This was, just to give a bit of context, this was 1975? It was the end of the year. The end of the year? I think, yes. I could check, but I think it was around November. Your uncle had been to the house before? Oh, he's never been? I mean, he had visited Miss Toward in the house, but he hadn't been in the ten years that she'd been in hospital, so he hadn't seen it in the state it was in. Oh goodness, and you'd never seen it before that day, and you just opened the door, and there it was! Oh my God. Was it an instant feeling that this was something kind of rare and that you felt that you wanted to rescue it or did you go away and reflect on it and think: 'I must do something here?' I wanted something to happen, but I started by going to the museums and the council and the Art School — various bodies who I thought might take it on, and when they didn't, for very good reasons, I decided, well I better do it myself, but I did have a lot of help and support from the People's Palace; Elizabeth King came and various other people came and were very interested and enjoyed looking at things, but nobody was in a position actually to undertake it. When you first decided that you were going to buy it and you spoke to your uncle and your aunt, you were staying with them and said: 'I'm going to buy it. I'm going to make it my own!', did they think you were strange or you were really brave? They were very supportive. They were very helpful and very, very kind. A lot of people thought I was completely mad, and my parents were sort of thinking, well, when I'd modernised it, it would be suitable, but my aunt and uncle were always behind me and very good and very interested. They used to come and visit me at various stages when it was a bit more civilised and I could make them a meal. Oh, that's nice.

Did they know Glasgow? Well, were they from Glasgow? Yeah, so they kind of had an understanding of the city and its architecture. And so once you'd moved — just made the decision to move in, and you moved in, and then and you've described how everything was all a bit upside down, and we're looking at these pictures where there's lots of furniture piled in and everything ... how did you, how did you go about making it a place where you could live? Did you kind of work your way systematically from room to room or did you just kind of open a drawer and follow your interest that day? Yes, it was very haphazard, and initially, I stayed with my aunt and uncle and just went in for the day, so I would put my boiler suit on go and do whatever I could find. I didn't even know what was there at first. There were trunks and boxes ... I didn't know about all Miss Toward's beautiful clothes Mrs Toward's clothes and dress making activities; I didn't know about all the music. I found treasures time after time, but I got quite friendly with the dustbin men because quite a lot of stuff just had to go and eventually, I remember one time they were shouting: ‘I like your sexy suit Mrs!’ As I had a scarf over my head but they were very kind and took things that maybe officially they maybe shouldn't have.

What do you remember of the rooms? You talked about how they were packed with furniture and things like that. What was it that caught your eye the first time you saw it? Was it the building, or was it the contents of it? It was just the general effect of the place, and I'd always been interested in old things and liked old places, but it wasn't one thing that jumped out, I don't think. It was, you know, my goodness, this is fascinating!

Do you remember ... what do you remember finding when you were going through all of these treasures; do you remember any particular treasure where you were like: 'Wow, this is beautiful!'? I love the postcard album because there were so many different aspects of it. It was the messages the early ones were used like telephone calls: we'll meet for a walk by the canal on Saturday, or we got home safely after the holiday, and the pictures on the front were showing how places had either changed or hadn't and the fact that the early ones were all from people who took their holidays very locally and then gradually it widened out a bit so people would maybe go to Edinburgh, England or even abroad, so it was a social history in one little book. All Miss Toward's little toys, the little puzzles, and little things were fascinating, and all the music ... It's a whole life, isn't it – kind of in a time capsule. One strange thing, you've probably read about it, there was a newspaper open at a picture of me and at first I thought: ‘This is spooky!’ but then I thought she probably laid it out to show him when he came to visit thinking it might be a connection with the same name so it got less spooky after that. It made more sense.

When did you finally move? Your first night there must have felt like ... It was it was still quite scruffy and quite full. I didn't stay with my aunt and uncle for very long, it was just till I could make a little corner that was civilised enough to sleep in and got the electricity working and the water reinstated, but I did camp out in it for quite a long time before I could invite visitors. The windows weren't very well fitting, and they had not been painted regularly. I'd been told that you could make a sort of double-glazing thing by using cling film across the windows, so I got lots of cling film, and I started at the top, and it stuck, and it got more and more difficult, and when it got to the bottom it was such a howling gale it wouldn't-even stick!

Did you, after a bit, embark upon a kind of redecoration of the flat? It's mentioned that you know I think that the windows were in really poor condition and we can see from the photographs that some of the colour of the walls had changed. Did you redecorate throughout the flat, or did you just do little bits? I was given very good advice; a painter who knew my uncle told me about the ceiling with all the decoration and said if you paint over that with modern paint, it'll be stuck forever. It was coated with distemper, so you couldn't see the actual pattern; you could just see lumps around the edge and around the lamp and he said you'll have to clean it, and I was up on a ladder with a screw cleaning out all this old distemper and making it all new and then I could paint it, but if you hadn't given me that advice I might have spoiled it, and because it was it wasn't interesting old wallpaper it was very much wartime brown, but I did try and float off the layers of paper underneath it. I floated them in the bath so I could find samples of what had been the one before, and the one before, and the one before that and kept those, and then I did my own decoration, which was not correct but at the time ... It was your home! It's marvellous that you did that kind of bit of detective work though on the wallpapers because a lot of people wouldn't have bothered doing that. They would have just decorated over it and put another layer on top, and away you go. I wanted to preserve as much as possible.

Did you feel that you sort of got to know her? I mean, as you've said in some of the articles, you sort of felt like you were still living in her house. Very much so, yes. Did that feel like a comfortable thing, or did you feel a bit like a lodger? I think if I'd been away and came back, it always felt a bit strange and I had to get myself re-established but when I was there, I felt we lived together quite comfortably. I didn't feel haunted by her. I was a bit concerned when the Trust took overthat because she was a very private person, was it right to have her things being looked at and talked about and inspected? I just had to hope that she would be quite intrigued with the interest in her and her life. How do you feel about that now? Obviously, it's many years ago, but reflecting on it, do you feel that it's been done in a respectful way? I think so, and I think it's given so much interest to so many people; I think it's worth maybe her slight disapproval, but I don't know; maybe she wouldn't have disapproved.

It's almost like there's two Miss Toward's isn't there? There's the kind of old lady Miss Toward the end of life, and then there's the Miss Toward that you discover through her things, like her postcards and her letters, and which kind of comes across as having a real sort of joy for life and a very sociable person and active and travelling. I think when visitors come, they kind of assume that she was quite a lonely old lady, and then you say no because she was quite sociable, she went to church, she had friends, she wrote to friends,so in a sense, you do know two people from the Miss Toward we see in the archive to the Miss Toward that's presented. There's a sense I think that even ourselves and visitors say it does still feel like her home; it doesn't feel like you're stepping into a museum. It's like she could just come back at any moment and say: ‘I'm home! What are you doing in my house?’ But I think that's quite nice that it's not sanitised in a way, it does still feel like like her home.

Did you attract much interest from the neighbours within the tenement block when you saw that you had moved into the flat and that you were trying to sift through and tidy it up and everything? Did everyone keep themselves as much to themselves? Mr. Levin was interested because he'd known Miss. Toward, and he was very kind. There were Chinese families below and there wasn't a lot of contact. The husbands worked in restaurants, and the wives didn't speak English. Very often, if one wanted to speak to them about a communal plumbing problem, you'd knock on the door, and the letterbox would open, and a child would look out, and you had to communicate this way. It was quite difficult. There were Indian and Pakistani families living above. They were very nice, but again not a huge amount of interest in it.Did you ever get to go into their houses – obviously not the Chinese neighbours ...Yes! In fact I was invited to a first birthday party of one of the families which was held in the village hall and was a big event. Did the interest of the neighbours change over the years when they knew that the Trust would take it on? Were they more supportive of that – did the come and have a look? The flats were turned around quite a lot. There were different people coming and going. The one below, I remember, was let to students so they were very transient. One of them had been out for the night and the Trust – to make, for the opening ceremony, to make the garden look nice, they'd put some baskets of daffodils in the front garden because this was must have been springtime – he'd come in at night and in the morning opened the curtains and couldn't believe this sudden garden had appeared overnight. There was quite a lot of coming and going over the years.

What other things were in the house when you first moved in that you felt you didn't have a need for, or you thought actually there's just too much here so you would send things away to auction or give things away to other people? There was an enormous table that took up the whole of the floor space in the living room, and there were more leaves to go into it that were behind the piano, so that went a very long horsehair settle, which was almost like a church pew – that went. A huge old mangle in the bathroom, and a friend of mine was doing printing work and so I gave that to her. A few things that people were particularly interested in I gave them, which obviously I I regret, but you can't always go back. The People's Palace did take the very old sewing machine and a couple of other things and they very generously gave them back when the Trust took over the house. Lots of things needed polish and cleaning, but generally, things were in good order. The grandfather clock wasn't working; he was slightly on a tilt, and I knew it wasn't good to have an uneven tick, so I propped him up and made him straight, but he didn't go, so I had to let him relax again. Aw, a slumpy clock! I was very fond of the clock.

At one point I had a scheme I was going to do meals, so a couple or two couples could book it for an evening, and I would be the maid and cook them a simple meal so they could have the experience of living there and have paraffin lamps and everything, I probably wouldn't have followed it through but I discovered I would have to have stainless steel sinks and tiles on the walls and it wouldn't be practical and I think that was probably as well because it was a bit of a pipe dream. Various schemes went through my head as to how I could make it more available as people became more interested because there was a big change, I think I mentioned to you earlier that initially people would say: ‘Oh, it'll be very nice when you've done it up!’ and then latterly: 'Oh this is fascinating! I wish mine was like this; it's really nice.’

Just over those seven years, there was a change in opinion. We were talking before about how you were just by chance staying with your uncle and aunt for an audition, and then they got the call from the lawyer, and you just happened to be like: ‘Yep, I'll go! I'm going to help you with the chairs.’ Wow. We're so lucky that happened. Indeed and the chairs were lovely. They were wheat chiefs, so the backs had a carving on them, and my uncle had them re-covered, and he used them in his home, and now his daughter ... I was about to say, has someone still got them? His daughter has them so they're still ... but there was another set and the ones that you still have.

Was the piano in working order, or did you have to have that ... well presumably, it hadn't been played for 10 years at the very least. I had a lovely piano tuner who came and he was so thrilled to see that particular old piano which he knew he gave me a bottle of their special polish so that I could revive the wood, and he gave me some material to put behind the fretwork to cover the very dilapidated pink silk that had been there and he came back a couple of times but he showed a real interest in it. Was it completely seized up when he first set to work on it? No I think it was playable but definitely not in tune.

All the beds were very comfortable to sleep in and it meant that you could accommodate six people. You've spoken about sleeping in the other beds as well. What was it like to sleep in the recess bed in the parlour because a lot of people ask about that as they wonder what it would be like. I loved it because, particularly in the winter, if I'd had the fire on, the room was nice and warm. Just climb into bed. Why go off to a cold, dark bedroom? We can say the same thing about Miss Toward because, of course, we wouldn't know where she slept, but we always assumed it would be the kitchen because it would be warm, so I guess you were doing the same thing. I did sleep in the kitchen. If I had visitors, it would just depend on who was there and what was convenient, but certainly, if I had one or two visitors, they would have the bedroom, and I would have one of the other rooms.

That's the kitchen, not so tidy, but like really nice. Somewhere in there is that pot of jam from 1929. I know! I love the jam; it's the handwritten labels on it. I think it's so sweet. There were a lot of food tins, modern tins of food, but they were all obviously more than ten years old; the only thing I ditched was a tin of salmon because the lid was bowed outward I thought that wasn't safe, but everything else was usable, and there were chocolates ... I mean she'd had boxes of chocolates obviously given to her in a drawer, and they were a bit white and odd but didn't do me any harm! Did you eat the chocolate? Yes! I'm sorry I didn't leave them for you!

These are some more of the first impressions. It's hard to tell what you mean... it just gives you a sort of idea. That was after I'd cleaned the mantlepiece, which ... Oh, had it been painted? It had been painted to look like wood. I think that when people couldn't afford to have the old-fashioned mantle piece taken out, they painted it so it looked like a wooden one, and I discovered there was a scratch on it, and I thought, that's funny, doesn't look like wood, and I scratched and scratched and eventually cleaned it. I've always wondered if there's a stain of like ..., and I've always wondered if that's why she painted it. When I was cleaning mine, it took so long to peel all the paint, I was always like: oh, there's going to be a stain after all of this work - there wasn't - but I think lots of people did it back then.

When the chimney sweep came, I had to go and shout up each fireplace so that he, on the forest of chimney pots, knew which one to sweep because there was a whole forest of them up there - every house had its own one, so I would be downstairs shouting up.

I'm really interested in when you first acquired it, and you mentioned that you have these two people that really were championing you getting the property. Can you let us know a little bit more about that now that we're filming it? Well, Finlay McQuarrie who worked in the Edinburgh office, but he was a West Coast man and belonged to Helensburgh .He was very enthusiastic and very helpful, and Gordon Borthwick was the Glasgow representative and he passionately felt that it was the right thing for Glasgow, and the two of them teamed up and they worked their way through committees, and they brought people to see it. They used to phone up and bring somebody to see it, and I would have the kettle on and the door knob polished and fire lit,and they would try and persuade people that it would be a good thing to have. Marista Leishman, I remember, was the education person and she was very enthusiastic about it and so they gradually got a group who were for it and they managed to manoeuvre it past the ones who were very understandably a bit doubtful about how it would be, and that's why I was so pleased it's been so successful, because it vindicated Finlay McQuarrie and Gordon Borthwick and the other ones who were promoting it. They really went a long way past their straight jobs to try and take it on. Then when it opened, it was one of the first social history devoted properties for the Trust and one of the first ones in Glasgow ... One of the first altogether because it was sometime later that the English National Trust bought a similar sort of place, or acquired, a similar sort of place in England but the Tenement House was the first! A property that is devoted to the history of this particular woman; she wasn't famous as well, so that must have been a barrier. That was really going out on a limb because it wasn't a famous person or a particularly grand house, but that was what was right. That was one thing I commended the Trust for because they could have gone in and made it all very, very nice and neat and smart, but they didn't. They let it be a bit worn and a bit lived in and a bit ... Well, it's really interesting because the perception has sort of shifted in a way because when the Trust acquired the property, it was more about educational visits and teaching children, and while we still do that with families and all sorts of visitors, the aim and why visitors come and see us is that nostalgic element and at the same time the fact that she was a woman and she was independent and she was working and living by herself which is a completely different angle from when it was acquired and it's really interesting to see how it has evolved.

How do you feel about it all now? You say it's only one episode in your life, but now that the years have moved on, how do you feel about the Tenement House? Well, I just felt I was so lucky to be in the right place at the right time and had the opportunity to do it and I'm so grateful to the Trust for taking it on and making such a success of it because if I'd stayed there, there wouldn't have been nearly so many people able to see it and enjoy it and learn from it, so as far as I was concerned it was win-win. I had all the fun of finding things, living in them, and just being there, and then the Trust took all responsibility for looking after them. It probably felt like a leap in the dark in terms of wondering whether people would be interested in it, and of course, it's gone on to see that people are amazingly interested in it and continue to be so. I also feel, as I think I've said before, that the big houses are beautiful but rather remote, and the tenement is everybody's and it's part of everybody's life or history or memory. And you feel that as soon as you walk through the door, don't you? You feel that you're home.

And the guides -every time I've been there, the original guides - I've met all of them - and they were lovely because they all had lived in houses like that and they were swapping stories with the visitors about when they got out of bed and the ranges being cleaned and things, and then to come later and find young people enthusing about it and being so knowledgeable about it, I think the guide collection is absolutely marvellous. Our volunteers are the best. We can say they're the best part of our jobs, for sure!

I would also like to mention Lorna Hepburn who did an amazing job in setting it up and looking after it and liaising with me a lot. Thank you very much for making the journey to come and see us, and thank you very much for the objects. Thank you for making a much bigger journey to come to me. It's lovely to have your enthusiasm and still to feel that it's being developed and so well looked after, but also still being researched and more being discovered.