‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 11.’ by a Correspondent in New York (20 May, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on drinking culture and alcoholism in the United States.

Drinking Habits Among the Yankees.

Mr William Pearce, the builder of the Arizona, Elbe, and Alaska steamships, has been in this country on a visit, and on being interviewed and questioned on the facilities for shipbuilding in this country as compared with Great Britain he says:—“We are, to be sure, hampered somewhat by the despotic system of Trades Unions among our working men. And, again, where our men work fifty-four hours in a week, yours work sixty. The working men in this country, too, are not so intemperate as ours are, which is another advantage American employers have.” “Angels and ministers of grace defend us,” where has this English shipbuilder got his information? It has long been my opinion that those who come here on a short pleasure trip, or just comes to see what o’clock it is in America, or only stops as long as digest the last meal they got on board the steamer that brought them out, know more about the history of America, geographically, geologically, commercially, socially, morally, and every other way than those who have been born and bred here for a long lifetimes. So it is with this Englishman. Does he mean to tell us that there is no despotic system of Trades Unions (as he loves to term it) in America? What he in his erroneous egotism calls despotism is far more rampant here than where he builds his ships. It is true that our working hours are properly six more per week than in the old country; but do Americans as a rule work more hours in a year than Scotchmen or Englishmen do? No, they do not. The Yankee thinks no more of taking a day to himself than a Scotchman does of taking a morning, and he does take it. Yankees don’t work nearly so steadily or continuously as this gentleman’s shipbuilders do. And, don’t you forget it, I don’t say that Uncle Sam is lazy. Oh no; I guess he only gets tired pretty often, and it takes a very small excuse to make him lay off work for a time. I thoroughly believe that if we had the Saturday half-holiday established here it would tend to lessen the taking of days during the week, for Americans, like other people, think that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. As to the charge of the British workman being more intemperate than American workmen, I will be as charitable as to think that he spoke more in ignorance than in trying to hurt his fellow-countrymen are more intemperate in every sense of the word than the Americans are, and I think it would be far better to remain silent than speak at random of things we know not of. The Excise Commissioners of New York City report they have licensed 8561 places to sell liquor, and there are at least 1500 unlicensed places in the city, making above 2000 reports for making drundarks [sic? drunkards?] in the city of New York alone. A correspondent of a newspaper says that the Astor House of that city has the largest bar business in the world, and adds—“It is a bad day’s business when they do not sell over 700 dollars worth of liquor.

In the city of Denver during the year 1880 the total income for the sale of boots and shoes, coal, and the products of the bakeries amounted to 1,875,000 dollars. The income for the sale of liquors for the same period was 2,000,000 dollars, or 25,000 dollars more for liquor than for the above necessaries of life. An authority on the subject says:—“A sum equal to the earnings of all the railways is drunk up every year in this country. Instead of men saving their money in case of hard times, they place their dollars in the liquor saloons, and draw an interest of bloodshot eyes and staggering gait. In time as they become better customers they get a substantial dividend of delerium tremens, and soon their brain succumbs.” Two million persons are employed in different branches of the liquor traffic. Four hundred murders and five hundred suicides annually are due to the drinking of alcohol in this country. And this is the land where sobriety is represented to be one of the characteristics of its people, and who are held up to you Scotch and English working men as worthy of imitation! Bah, the next time this English shipbuilder comes here to open his mouth and let his tongue say anything that has a mind to, let him take some other topic which he knows something about, and not come here in his ignorance and ridicule his fellow-countrymen, more especially the very men who build his ships and helped to build his fortune.

“O, ye wha are sae guid yersel’,

Sae pious and sae holy,

Ye’ve nought to do but mark an’ tell

Your neibours’ fauts an’ folly.”

Correspondent.

‘Old Stories Retold: The Cradle of Logie’ (26 November, 1887)

The following was part of a series of historical tales about Dundee which appeared in ‘The People’s Journal’. ‘The Cradle of Logie’ is a sombre piece of Dundee folklore surrounding the dreadful mistreatment of an Indian princess by Fletcher Reid of Logie House, and the brutal revenge carried out by her father. This episode (although many of the details are highly doubtful) demonstrates the significant connection between the east coast of Scotland and India. Many landowners (or rather the sons of landowners) from the region made their fortunes in the East India Company. When they returned flush with the rewards of their plunder of the subcontinent, these nouveau riche were dismissively called ‘nabobs’.

In the earlier years of this century Logie House, near Lochee was the residence of Fletcher Reid, a man who had risen to some distinction in the service of the Indian Government. At that time there stretched in front of the house a large field, and in the middle of the field stood a lofty pole with a gilded ball and spire on the top. Long ago the plough and harrow gave place to stone and brick and lime, and many people, dwellers in the locality and others, will be interested to learn that the street built on this field is called Polepark after the flagstaff. Our illustrations are taken from Crawford’s plan of Dundee published in 1777.

Some ninety years ago the people residing in the neighbourhood of Logie House were surprised one morning at finding a number of workmen commencing to lay the foundation of a cottage within the grounds. What, they asked, could Fletcher Reid of Logie want with a house like that? and why should he erect it within his entrance gates? Great were the curiosity and mystification even among the servants themselves, and thus it is that we find James, the gardener closeted with Mrs Saunders, the housekeeper, on the evening of the day above alluded to. Mrs Saunders, for reasons known to herself, and also to James, has provided that worthy with a hearty meal and something to drink, and the two now settle down for a gossip.

“’Deed, Mistress Saunders,” began Jeems, in his slow, deliberate way; “ think the maister maun be clean daft. That Indian cleemat’s been ower muckle for’m. They tell me noo—”

“Daft,” broke in the housekeeper. “’Od, there wid be some excuse for’m if he wis. Dae ye think sae?”

“I believe it’s that strayaigin’, ne’er-dae-weol Laird of Brechin that pits a’ the mischief intill his heed,” said Jeems. “Did ye hear aboot the twa idyits ridin’ at nicht to the kirkyaird on a hearse an’ blawin’ trumets. It’s eneugh to bring a judgment on the toon.”

“Guidsake, Jeems, dinna speak that way,” said Mrs Saunders, glancing round uneasily. “What wi’ the maister’s cantrips, and that young Indian heathen woman, his wife’s manoeuvres, I’m turnin’ clean nervous. “What dae ye think be married a cratur’ like that for?”

“Faix, Mrs Saunders, he married her for rizzens that shouldna animate the breest o’ ony man when he—ahem—when he gangs about sic business,” rejoined James, with a meaning glance at the buxom housekeeper, who would have blushed if she had been twenty years younger. “Ye ken hoo mony rupees and gowd and jewels he got wi’ her frae her faither, wha’ is the Rajaw o’ some ootlandish place oot there, and a verra big man amang thae heathen blackguards. They say the maister himsel’ was a big man there to; but, losh, Mrs Saunders, that’s no sayin’ muckle, for it stands to rizzen that amang thae puir black heathen cratur’s any man with a heid on his shoothers an’ a pair o’ breeks on—”

Here an imperative ring at the bell, calling for Mrs Saunders, cut the conversation short, and James had to leave, much against his will. James and the housekeeper “understood” one another.

By-and-by the cottage was finished. It was a little ugly stone building with a door and no window. At each corner projected an ornamental pinnacle, resembling the knobs of a cradle and the cottage was dubbed the “Cradle of Logie.” Surely the rich Anglo-Indian must be mad? Yes, he was mad—not mentally, else he might have been forgiven, but morally—mad with evil passions, mad with lust, mad with drink, mad with every conceivable kind of wickedness known to our depraved human nature. In this particular instance his diabolical purpose was soon unveiled. His gentle wife, the daughter of an Indian prince, whom he had married out in India, had grown distasteful to him. So this monster in human shape built this little, close, undrained, unlighted place as a prison for her, and here he shut her up and deprived her of proper food and every necessary, and even decency of life. Starved, beaten, shut up, without ever getting a breath of air or seeing a ray of sunlight, the poor creature soon pined away and died. Continue reading “‘Old Stories Retold: The Cradle of Logie’ (26 November, 1887)”

‘The Thane of Fife’ by Claymore (29 September, 1860)

This retelling of Macduff’s flight from Fife received second prize in a ‘People’s Journal’ short story competition in 1860.

Second Prize Tale

It was a dark and stormy night during the reign of the usurper Macbeth, that a man, who had evidently come a long journey, wended his way up the steep and rocky ascent that leads to M’Duff’s Castle, on the Firth of Forth. The snow was falling fast and thick, when, after mounting the brae, he arrived at the gate which was used as the chief entrance to the Castle. He sought admittance from the warden, who asked loudly for what purpose he had come. “I seek an interview with the Thane,” answered the stranger. Hearing this the warden at once unfastened the ponderous bolts which secured the gates in those rude times, and admitted the messenger, for such he was. Macduff, being informed of his arrival, ordered one of his retainers to bring him into his apartment.

The servitor having left, he began pacing up and down the rough floor in a disturbed state. “If such is the case, by my father’s sword,” said he to himself, “he shall feel the weight of my revenge; but no, he would not dare!” He was interrupted by the entrance of the stranger, accompanied by a party of his retainers. “Declare thy message, fellow,” exclaimed Macduff, as he fixed his piercing eye on the person before him. “Please, my lord, I was commanded by the King to deliver this document into your hands,” uttered he, and so saying, he placed a paper into the Thane’s hand. Macduff’s brow became overclouded, and he muttered between his clenched teeth, “My surmise is then true.” He withdrew to a corner to peruse the document. It was a command from Macbeth to repair to the place where the King was residing, for the purpose of assisting in the erection of a Royal Castle. After reading it, the Thane cast it into the fire, and ordered his servitors to set food before the messenger. He then directed his steps to his wife’s room, for the purpose of consulting as to what should be done. His lady was a woman of powerful intellect, and was far better educated than her rude husband. This he himself knew, and he therefore sought her opinion on the subject on hand. Opening the door he entered her apartment, and told her that he had something for her private ear. She, therefore, dismissed her attendants, and Macduff, after seating himself on a rough bench, related what had passed. On finishing his narrative, she appeared lost in thought, but recovering herself, suddenly asked what he purposed to do?

“I have thought of disobeying the order,” replied Macduff, “and if my vassals stand by me I have little fear of the result.”

“This cannot be,” she exclaimed, “for you are now at enmity with Earl Lainge, who would, along with his dependants, surely help the King. The only thing that can be done is to despatch two of your vassals to represent you; for it is not to be thought that you would descend to serve him yourself.” Continue reading “‘The Thane of Fife’ by Claymore (29 September, 1860)”

‘The Dens and Hovels of Dundee’; Victoria Road (23 February, 1889)

The following is the last of a series of articles on the poorest areas of Dundee which were published in ‘The Peoples Journal’ from the end of 1888. The area around Victoria Road is the focus of this article.

The purpose of the journalist was to reveal the terrible problems facing those living in the slums (“rookeries”) of Dundee and is spelled out in the introduction to the first article in the series:

It is my purpose to direct attention to both classes of insanitary buildings—the old and the new—and to describe from personal inspection the hovels and “rookeries” of this city. The evil has grown so rampant that the Police Commissioners, on the repeated suggestions of the Medical Officer of Health, have at length begun to move in this matter, and my object is to assist them as far as possible in their investigations. In the course of these inquiries, I shall be able to reveal a side of social life and its environments the existence of which is little suspected by a great many people resident in Dundee.

The opening up of Victoria Road, although costly at the time, was one of the best projects which has been carried through under the Dundee Improvement Act. Bucklemaker Wynd may have been a historical locality, but it was anything but salubrious. The Wynd was narrow, and built in on each side with comparatively high tenements, more or less in a tumble-down condition, but now Victoria Road is one of the principal thoroughfares of the town, and the spacious dwelling-houses which line the street on both sides are a credit to the owners. Between Victoria Road and King Street from King’s Road Eastwards to Dens Brae, however, there still remain a number of hovels which ought to be at once levelled with the ground. William Street, off King Street, is the entrance to the hovel I visited last. The street itself is not prepossessing. There are only three signs of civilisation about the place—viz. A certain semi-circular iron erection, a joiner’s sign, and “Bell Street U.P. Church Mission Hall.” A better site for a Mission Hall it would be difficult to find even in the wilds of Central Africa. The buildings are all ancient, but those on the East side are, besides being old, completely done.

“The Beef Can Close”

leads to a brick building which was erected I believe when the jute industry made the first great bound forward. Houses, especially of one room, were very scarce at the time, and the families drafted from the country to find employment in the factories were glad to get a lodging of any description. The first landlord may have been looked upon as a benefactor, but any unbiased person who visits the locality now must be forced to the conclusion that the gentleman or gentlemen who draw the rents for the brick land and the tenements adjoining look only to their own personal advantage. A glance at the above sketch will convince anyone that the “Beef Can Close”—so called I believe because the unfortunate tenants were said to have no cooking utensils or dishes except for empty beef cans, which they put to all manner of uses—is entered with difficulty. There are two short flights of steps at the entrance, and both are very much worn and dirty. The close itself, like the opening into it, is filthy in the extreme. When I saw it it was literally covered with filth, and the whole locality presented a most ruinous and miserable appearance.

The houses are reached by outside stairs of a most primitive description. The steps, railings, and supports are entirely of wood, very much the worse of wear. The flooring of the passages is broken in several places, and the joiner work generally is sadly in need of repair. The passages leading to the houses in the West corner of the building are dark, and one has to grope his way through the prevailing gloom to the wretched homes of the poor people. Opposite the stairs is an upright paling broken in several places, and beyond this is an enclosure known as the “green.” The patch had at one time perhaps, been a place for bleaching clothes, but now instead of grass it is covered with stones and heaps of rubbish which the tenants had at some time or other laid down rather than convey it to the ashpit, which is only a few yards distant from the paling.

Miserable as are the surroundings of the dwellings, I found that on inspection the interiors were even worse. The above sketch will show that the windows are large enough for the admission of light, but beyond this no provision has been made for the comfort of the inmates. Water has not been introduced into any of the houses, and so far as I could see there were no bunkers or sinks. It was pointed out to me that the walls were damp, and that the plaster work was sadly in need of repair. In one house on the Western landing the tenant warned us “to be cautious,” lest our advent into the house “might bring down that bit,” pointing as she spoke to a piece of plaster which seemed to be hanging by a hair. For these miserable rooms I was informed the rents ranged from 1s 6d to 2s 6d per week.

Behind this wretched tenement there is a building used as a stable by a butcher in the locality. It is built of stone, and is far superior as a place of human habitation than the building in front of it.

“The Tarry Twine Close,”

which is to the South of the “Beef Can Close,” and which was at one time a notorious place, leads nowadays to only a few houses, most of those facing William Street having been shut up. A more dreary square I have never seen, and if it were entirely shut up the public would benefit.

With the description of this property my labours come to a close. There are other localities in Dundee which I could say something about, but a description would be a mere repetition. It now rests with the Police Commissioners to act, and I shall be glad to chronicle the improvements which may be effected under their orders.

‘Recollections of a Dundee East-Ender. “’Tis Fifty Years Since.”’ by McR. (26 June, 1880)

This article appeared in the ‘People’s Journal’ in June 1880. The title parodies Sir Walter Scott as the author looks back fifty years and observes the huge changes that had taken place in the East End in that time. This map from 1832 gives an insight into how little the city had expanded east on the Forfar and Arbroath Roads. Compare to 1882.

“After this Baxter Brothers came to build their first spinning mill, which stood with its end to the “Plantin’.” After that they built their second mill, and so demolished the west side of the “Plantin’.” After this they took up the whole of the east side of the “Plantin’.” Subsequently they swallowed up Carmichael’s Mill and the whole of the den, trees, and all up to Victoria Road and Bridge, and I think beyond it, all of which space is now occupied by their works, which may be splendid enough in their own matter-of-fact way but there was poetry n the den.”

Aye, it is at least three and fifty years now since Macgregor sang on the stage of the Dundee Theatre Royal “Great are the changes in Bonnie Dundee.” It was a song which was then “just out,” of the words of which I only remember the o’erturn. It spoke of the enterprise of the Dundonians in some such way as this—

“Building quays and piers and walls with mercantile ardour,

They’ve made the river narrower by their new harbour.”

And in lamenting the building of some wall or other along the Perth Road, the object of which would appear to have been the protection of pedestrians from the stormy winds, forgetting that by the same means they were shutting out their view of the grand river and its “Christian side,” the piece came to some such conclusion as this—

“But blow me, I’d rather be blowed than blinded,

Sing hey, sing ho, you all must agree

That great are the changes in Bonnie Dundee.”

The song was sung to a tune to which I have heard the song “Kate Dalrymple” sung. I have also heard the song about a Lowland lass and a Hieland laddie sung to the same tune by a gentleman who has since built that ducal castle that overlooks Broughty Ferry and the Firth of Tay. He and I were then “boys together,” although we were not intimate acquaintances, for he and his brothers R. and A. were then at Mr Gilbert’s school and I at Mr Macintosh’s. Besides, he was a “hiller” and I was a “noo rodder,” for the “New Roads,” or “noo rods,” was the name by which what are now called King Street and Princes Street were then known. But there was not a single house then in what is now called Princes Street from Sandy Gordon’s thatched cot at the foot of the Strait Brae till you came to the old gushet public-house of one story called “Athole Brose,” from these words being painted on the stones forming the arch of the door-top, and which house divided the Forfar from the Arbroath Road. Sandy Gordon’s house was, as I have said, a thatched cot that formed the east foot of the Strait Brae, and a coal yard formed the west foot. But thereby the Brae had a short leg and a long. For Sandy’s house projected into what now forms the beginning, or west end, of Princes Street, so that the back, instead of the front, of Sandy’s house formed the line of street. Sandy was a veritable publican, for although he may not have been “licensed to retail spirits, porter, and ale,” and I am not so sure as to be able to say he was not, yet he sat at the receipt of custom on a buffet stool in front of his house from morning to night, especially on Tuesdays and Fridays. For the Magistrates then, not having yet been put up to the principles of free trade, made the country people pay for leave to sell their butter and eggs to the people in the town; and Sandy was the farmer, on that road, of these customs, I think, till they came to be abolished. Perhaps it was so much exposure to the weather that gave the colour to Sandy’s face, which was a deep mixture of red and blue, with little or no white to relive it. Sandy wore a clean white apron, though over a figure decidedly emborpoint, so that, if not so in every sense of the word, he would have made a goo specimen of the ideal Boniface. Continue reading “‘Recollections of a Dundee East-Ender. “’Tis Fifty Years Since.”’ by McR. (26 June, 1880)”

‘Transcripts From Memory: Transcript Second—”The Poopit-Fit”‘ by James Easson (3 March, 1860)

The following is the second of James Easson’s series ‘Transcripts from Memory’, published in the ‘People’s Journal’ in 1860. In Scots the ‘poopit-fit’ literally means the foot of the pulpit, but in this context refers to the whole institution of the Church of Scotland.

Easson—or ‘the people’s poet’ as he was posthumously dubbed by a reader—wrote many short stories, sketches, essays and poems from 1858 until his death in 1865. In many ways Easson was the sort of contributor that the ‘Journal’ was founded for. He was a painter decorator from Dundee who found an audience in the paper and was loved by its readers. He died in the Royal Lunatic Asylum in Dundee after three weeks of paralysis aged just 31, his only living relative being his Grandmother Betty Easson. Readers donated money to pay for his burial and the support of Betty when his death was announced. His stone can still be visited in Dundee’s Eastern Necropolis and the inscription reads; ‘Erected by the Proprietors of “The People’s Journal” in Memory of a Working Man who had Rare Literary Gifts and Whose Writings are his Best Memorial’.  For a full collection of his work and a short biography, see ‘The Life and Works of James Easson; The Dundee People’s Poet’ by Anthony Faulks (Dundee, 2016).

Imagine, reader, that you wander over the wide plains, and through the deep green groves of Canada West; that you feel home-sick and weary, and that roaming there you have chanced to meet with a stranger of European aspect. How high you heart leaps with joy as this thought flashes across your mind—“Perhaps he is a Scotchman, and may have some feelings in common with myself!” Gladly you solute him with words of friendly greeting, and forthwith begin to converse. You go on to speak of many places and about many things, till at length your conversation chances to run upon the church of your fathers. But the stranger turns out to be an Englishman; he knows nothing of the “kirk,” though he recalls with true feeling the memory of the aged curate of his native place, the beautiful prayers of the liturgy; of its old, but to him familiar chaunts, as they used to swell though the ancient chancel, and of the steady, golden voice of the organ. All this is very sweet and very beautiful; but he cannot talk to you of “puir auld Scotland,” of her children, her homes, her pulpits, her ministers, or her “household words.” Again, your yearning heart feels disappointed and charged with chagrin; so, you give vent to a tremulous sigh, and with a faltering “God speed,” you part from you fellow-sojourner, who soon pursues his onward way.

You also wander along till evening approaches, and the fiery Canadian sunset floods all the landscape with burning red—a radiance that causes the lakes to blaze like sheets of bright gold, whilst the woods look black and solemn. Then you see a log-house in the distance, thatched like a Scotch cottar house; a train of blueish reek ascends from it, and latterly your eye can discern a sonsy Scotch gudewife pottering about the door, her broad face florid with the ruddy light. The stalwart gudeman sits at the door-cheek of his log-cabin, and little pawky Johnny, seated on his knee, is pulling away at his father’s beard, or trying vainly to untie his neckerchief. Betimes they notice you; they herald your approach with an earnest welcome, somewhat like this—“Losh, man, but ye are tired-like; ye’ve surely come a far road—sit doon an’ rest ye—sae, sit doon here i’ the arm-chair, an ‘mak’ yersel’ at hame!” When the conversation has advanced so far, the gudewife thinks of supper, and the gudeman suggests the propriety of having a little tea for “a dentis.” It may be that you are no fellow-townsman of your host; but you are a Scotchman, so you speak of the latest news from the old country, and from that you ramble on till you speak to him of the old churches and the old ministers at home. By-and-bye the table is set, the gudewife’s presence graces the homely board, and she also takes up the subject in hand. She laments that they are so far away from Scotland, for she would have “liket the bairns bapteezed at hame,” where she was baptized, and where her “forebears” lived, died, and are buried. Then they talk of the baptisms of their brothers and sisters, and of the beloved pastors who administered the ordnance, and who are also left behind. These and such like memories are all recalled, and recollection lingers in fondest retrospect around them still.

Yes, and it were strange did any emotion, save that of affection, like the affection of those poor emigrants, attach to that familiar “poopit-fit.” As parents, some think, at its mention, of sinless cherubs—upon whom the dew of morning scarce fell, when Death, like a thief, stole silently in, laid his frozen hand upon the young one’s heart, and carried t away, smiling spitefully at their agony, and his own fell triumph; whilst others of us have there received those names which have since become as pleasant to our friends, as they are familiar to ourselves. Continue reading “‘Transcripts From Memory: Transcript Second—”The Poopit-Fit”‘ by James Easson (3 March, 1860)”

‘The Dens and Hovels of Dundee’: Polepark Road (2 February, 1889)

The following is one of several articles on the poorest areas of Dundee which were published in ‘The Peoples Journal’ from the end of 1888. The area around Polepark Road is the focus of this article.

The purpose of the journalist was to reveal the terrible problems facing those living in the slums (“rookeries”) of Dundee and is spelled out in the introduction to the first article in the series:

It is my purpose to direct attention to both classes of insanitary buildings—the old and the new—and to describe from personal inspection the hovels and “rookeries” of this city. The evil has grown so rampant that the Police Commissioners, on the repeated suggestions of the Medical Officer of Health, have at length begun to move in this matter, and my object is to assist them as far as possible in their investigations. In the course of these inquiries, I shall be able to reveal a side of social life and its environments the existence of which is little suspected by a great many people resident in Dundee.

A Modern Den.

Not quite twenty years ago I used to play cricket in a field at Polepark. It was then one of the few open spaces in Dundee, and though not a public resort the young lads in the neighbourhood enjoyed themselves on it much as they pleased at certain periods of the year. The locality is now, however, completely changed in aspect. Two large ranges of dwelling-houses cover the park. Of some of these dwelling-houses there is nothing to complain. The original owners did their duty so far as providing the necessary sanitary accommodation, washing-houses, &c., for their tenants. Others, however, failed, and completely spoiled at least one of the squares by their

Anxiety to Make Money.

I refer particularly to that square bounded by Polepark Road, Pole Street, Lawrence Street, and truncated triangle, is to be seen one of the modern “dens” of Dundee. The atmosphere which permeated the place twenty years ago has been replaced by one no longer bracing, but quite otherwise. On part of the space which should have been devoted for washing-houses and blaching-green [sic—bleaching?] for tenants in the adjoining houses there has been erected a land consisting of two storeys and attics. This property does not come within 30 yards or so of the lands facing Polepark Road, but it is only 20 feet 5 inches distant from the buildings facing Lawrence Street, and between it and washing-houses attached to the property in Pole Street there is not much more than the breadth of the staircase leading to the upper flats of the built-in property. The houses are of two rooms, and they have been fairly well finished. Several of them are rather dirty-looking from the exterior, but otherwise they seem good houses had they been set down in an open thoroughfare. There is a sad want of sanitary accommodation for the built-in tenement and the same proprietors’ building facing Lawrence Street, which include 18 one-roomed, 22 two-roomed, and 1 three-roomed houses. A few weeks ago there were living in these dwellings 147 persons, yet there is only one privy and ashpit for their use, and perhaps as the result of the building of the property at the back there has not been a single washing-house provided for the convenience of the tenants. It is scarcely to be expected that the housewives could be clean and tidy who live in houses evidently well constructed, but with no outdoor, conveniences worthy the name. The building, which may have been a gain to the original proprietor, is a decided public loss. Continue reading “‘The Dens and Hovels of Dundee’: Polepark Road (2 February, 1889)”