This photograph was taken in Dundee. Vintage Willie put it up on his excellent Twitter feed, with the following annotation:

Dundee, Scotland, 1959. This photograph won the bronze medal at Interpress-Foto, 1960 in Berlin. Photograph: Michael Peto for the Observer The Peto Collection, held by

Do any of our Dundonian readers recognise where it is?

I thought maybe Lower Pleasance (parallel to Polepark Road) off the Lochee Road? I have to say, it’s so bleak I was surprised that it was as late as 1959!

Anyway, I know you guys like a puzzle.

Can anyone help, please?


69 thoughts on “HELP?”

    1. He he…

      Bless them. It was a hard life. If it is where I think, it’s all jute mills down there. That WAS a hard life and all for next to no money. Pretty much like today only dirtier and dustier.


      1. Not being familiar with 1950s Dundee, Tris, – nae idea. I’m not surprised at the bleakness though – at that time, most industrial cities and towns were gey bleak. As to a hard life and little money, you’re dead right. I expect you know the great wee song by Mary Brooksbank, jute-mill worker, activist and poet. For anyone who doesn’t, here it is:-

        The Jute Mill Song
        Oh dear me, the mill’s gaen fest,
        The puir wee shifters canna get a rest,
        Shiftin’ bobbins, coorse and fine,
        They fairly mak ye work for yir ten and nine.

        Oh dear me, ah wish the day wis done,
        Rinnin’ up and doon the Pass is no nae fun
        Shiftin’, piecin’, spinnin’ warp, weft and twine
        Tae feed and cled my bairnies affen ten and nine.

        Oh dear me, the warld’s ill divided,
        Them that warks the hardest are aye-ways least provided,
        But ah maun bide contented, dark days or fine,
        There’s nae much pleisure livin’ affen ten and nine.

        For those who want to know the tune – and it’s a good one – there are various versions of the song on YouTube. I particularly like the one by Frances Cain.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I do not believe this is either Dundee
    or Lochee. The straight back horizon
    matches no buildings or hills in Dundee or Lochee.
    Ehm fae Cobden Street a lang time ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely Whorterbank , Lochee — taken 1954 . Looking towards Burnside St. ( Gr/Mother born there ) Not quite visible in this photo is the multi – storey building which is part of Cox’s Mill . I do have another photo taken just a bit further down which quite clearly shows this .

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Sorry ! Have nothing to prove the date except when I d/loaded it ( March 2012 ) it was denoted as WHORTERBANK_1954 . Can’t remember the actual website but suspect it was Dundee City Archives . If you refer to “andimac” and his comment about another photo of Whorterbank taken Nov. 1958 – Dundee City Archives , there is a comment left with that photo which reads –” There is a Michael Peto view down Whorterbank taken in 1954 on a misty morning which I can’t link to unfortunately . Very atmospheric ” — Perhaps this is where I got my info but if the person making the comment was wrong about the date then obviously I will be wrong also . If so, then I stand corrected . As you remarked yourself , you thought 1959 was a bit late .

          Liked by 1 person

  2. In the far distance there’s a definite industrial building, which is obviously/probably a jute mill. If you got hold of a list of all the extant mills in 1959? I started with the pleasance and I got as far as Douglas St, but the slope seemed wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the research Conan. That must have taken some time. It turns out that it is Whorterbank, much farther up … indeed in Lochee.

      I’ll take some photos next time I’m over there for comparison.


  3. That smog reminds me of going to school in Glasgow. I can remember not being able to see my hand in front of my face on some occasions and having to keep close to the tenements to find my way home. Then they got rid of coal fires and things improved.

    Still we will be going back to the days of ten and nine if the tories get their way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They called it the good old days…

      We are going back there. I saw a clip on Twitter yesterday, where they talked about parents fainting as they bring their kids to school, not having eaten. Of chiuldren’s uniforms having to be washed at school because parents have no money for electricity, and a doctor talking about rickets. All in Lancashire.

      So much for Mrs May’s vision of a Britain that works for all.

      It’s not working for the bairns with rickets, is it?


  4. trispw,

    I followed the link. Nothing there helped me identify that location.

    The folk look incredibly poor, and, well, unprotected. My heart went out to them.

    Could you explain? 1930’s busses and trams and locations are amusing. People that look on the verge of death, not so much.

    It would have been good to have been able to enlarge the picture. Between the two ladies appears to be a boy. But that is judging on a scale definition that is apt to error.

    trispw, you almost always have a point.

    What was it here?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was that someone on Twitter was asking if anyone knew where this was. I said that the readers of Munguin’s Republic were good at identifying and dating photos.

      So I opened it to you guys… and you’ve worked it out.



    1. In honestly, I think it was probably just smoke from Cox’s stack.

      I’ll get over there in the next few days and take some photos of his it is now.

      Not that it’s not likely to be haary here. That’s the most miserable kind of cold. Just imagine that moisture filled air with smoke in it.

      It’s a wonder anyone made it past 30!


      1. All you youngsters will not remember the polluted air that we breathed in because of the coal fires and the chimneys from the factories. I waited for a bus last week at Westport. One tenement had smoke belching out of a chimney and the smell brought back memories of the day to day odour that we thought was normal. I don’t think the residents of that tenement know out about smokeless zones.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Marcia, do you remember when folks’ chimneys occasionally caught fire? Neighbours tended to tut-tut and say, “Whit d’ye expect? – that lot never get their lum swept, they’ll no pey for it.”

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Our chimney went up once much to my parents embarrassment as it happened before the yearly sweep. It wasn’t that expensive as the chimney sweeps had a lot of trade then. They didn’t seem to make a mess either. Your coal fire was also where a lot of waste paper went before recycling.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. All this is fascinating.

                I cant image that there wouldn’t have been stoor everywhere… black dirty stoor. Still I guess they were tradesmen and in these days probably tradesmen cleared up after themselves.


  5. Tris, I thought I’d try to find the location via old OS maps (tall order with the limited info in the image) but while I was ploughing through one of Lochee – OS Forfarshire 053.08 Publ. 1939 (, Andy came up with Whorterbank – well done, that man! However, my perusal of said map convinced me that the three wifies are standing by the wall beside the cooling ponds on Whorterbank/Burnside Street opposite the Camperdown Works. Interestingly Dundee City Archive has another pic, taken November 1958, of almost exactly the same location and there are even women, this time with kids and a pram, in nearly the same spot as the three wifies. It confirms my supposition about the cooling ponds – if I’d found this pic before I started poring over the map, I’d have saved myself some time 🙂 The photo and accompanying info are at Looking at the pic, I was reminded of my Mum saying in the past, “My Goad, Ah widnae like tae huv tae push a pram up yon brae!”
    Looking at the photo of the wifies, I note two are dressed for outside but not the one with the basin – nae coat and sleeves rolled up. I think she’s jist popped oot o’ the hoose tae empty that basin doon the nearest cundie because the sink’s aye gettin blocked. I also notice she’s got a different boot (or baffie) on her left foot and a bandage on that leg – nae doot she wis a martyr tae swollen feet an’ varicose veins. Aye, it was a hard life indeed – and you can bet those wifies weren’t nearly as old as some people today would think they were. It’s interesting what you can see in a photograph – thanks for posting it and to Vintage Willie who started this wee exploration. By the way, being Dundee, should that be Oor Wullie, A’body’s Wullie – Vintage Wullie?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s fascinating in so many ways.

      As you say, these look like old old women, but I too, bet that they weren’t.

      Even into the 50s some of these houses had no electricity, and an outside toilet shared by several families. Gas lighting and a wash in the kitchen sink with a kettle of water.

      I could look at photos like that all day…

      Big thanks to Vintage Willie. I hope he won’t mind me sharing other photographs.


      1. Tris, when I was a wee fella (1950s), the first house I remember was just as you describe – gas lighting, no electricity, sink with one cold water tap, wash-house in the back court, no cooker, just a range, shared cludgie in the close (4 families if I recall) and the place was spotless inside and out. Being poor wasn’t always something you could help but being respectable certainly was. Men worked hard, women worked harder – it’s no wonder they looked (and were) old before their time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes indeed.

          My mum tells me of times when there wasn’t much money and the best food went to the man, without whose earnings they were destitute; the next best went to the kids who had to grow up big and strong. The wife/mother got what she got, despite being the one that held it all together.

          Of courser there was no money for fashion, hair dyes, make-up… and why bother anyway. It’s not like they were going dancing or even down to the pub. They were all men preserves.


  6. I was a wee boy growing up in Dundee, and the picture reminds me of what some (not all) of the city was like – left over from a previous era. A striking aspect of the photo is the complete absence of litter. People were so poor everything was used or kept- there was no mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John, you’re dead right. No litter because nothing was wasted. Papers used to kindle the fire, or to black the grate; newspaper, cut in neat squares, was used in the cludgie; tattie peelings went to the brock-man for the piggery; old clothes, after being handed down and eventually worn out, used for dusters and washcloths. We didn’t have tinned food often but I remember my dad washing out the tins, fitting a wire handle to them and he and his mates using them as billy-cans at their work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s like another world, Andi.

        And yet today there is still poverty.

        Perhaps in some ways not as bad… I mean every house has electricity, most have inside toilets.

        But there are kids showing signs or rickets in Lancashire (I saw last night), and parents fainting with hunger when they take their kids to the breakfast club at school. And there are still pensioners who die of the cold.

        But remember with pride that we punch above our weight and we are respected or feared throughout the world.

        Makes yer chest swell with pride, doesn’t it?


        1. Tris, I remember when I was a kid, many years ago, being in Glasgow with my Dad and seeing these little men and women with bandy, deformed legs. He explained to me that they had rickets because they’d grown up without good food and without sunlight in the slums. I never thought that in my lifetime I’d see us return to those conditions. The degree of contempt I have for our Westminster politicians I just cannot articulate. A society should be judged by how it treats its poor, its disabled, its disadvantaged and on every count ours fails. Perhaps Margaret Thatcher was right – “There’s no such thing as society” – but only because she and the heartless, selfish bastards like her did everything they could to destroy it. Welcome to 21st century GREAT Britain, leading the world – in poverty, racism and sheer bloody stupidity! My parents and millions like them had lives of hardship and want but believed there would be a better world for their children. I know it was better for me but I see that slipping away for the generations to come. We must not allow that to happen or we sell all those who went before us short. Still, enough of my preaching – here endeth the lesson.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Very true Andi. It’s all going backward, and they go on voting for it.

            And today, they had a memorial service in London for the relatives (and victims) of Grenfell.

            Many of them still unhoused.

            I noticed that Maybot, Charles and William were there.

            Bloody cheek. When their council house burned down, they simply moved to another one. That day.

            Ricketsd, in 21 st C Britian. The 7th largest economy in the world.

            But never mind. There’s always Harry the Hunter’s wedding for us all to look forward to, if he can tear himself away from shooting things for the day.


    2. That’s an interesting observation. Of course, I don’t suppose kids walked down the road throwing sweetie paper everywhere, or McDonald wrappers, or soft drink cartons.

      If you got a paper bag you held on to it. It would come in handy.


  7. All those reminisences from various contributors about the 1950’s brings back memories all right. I never forget where I came from and what reality was like for those of us at or near the bottom. Education took me out of that situation. Thanks Mum and Dad. We must get out of this Union or we will all be plunged back by the greed of the plutocrats and their political puppets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fascinating memories from readers. I love this stuff.

      But yes, we are slowing working out way back to this. Without a doubt the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and, even if it’s all in colour these days, it must still be as miserable to be ill-clad, ill-fed, and cold.

      Never mind. Rejoice. There’s a royal wedding coming up.


  8. We moved from a tenement to a brand new semi-detached three bedroom house in the fifties. We had a coal fire, gas and electricity and a huge back garden which was a drying green and allotment combined. The “wee ones” (myself and youngest sister) were sent “for the rations” to a licensed grocer who happily handed over two cans of beer and a gill of whisky to two pre-teens carrying it home in a shopping bag, grabbing a handle each. Most everything else was delivered by the “vans” to the door.
    I remember my mum ironing on the kitchen table with an electric iron that plugged into the light socket, my dad poking the living room fire with a bayonet and myself screwing up newspapers into balls to light the fire in the morning. All done listening to the “wireless”.
    We had a gas powered fridge! It was a time of wonders…

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Ah dinnae care fur yon hoor Maw Broon. Her puir wee manny, thinkin a they bairns are his, and ony twa o them look alik – an *they* look awfy like yon wee de’il Wullie wha lives doon the street – aye she’s the talk o the steamie, richt enough.
            *Bends forward conspiratorially*
            See her dochter Daphne? Ah heard she does things fur laddies up Stoory Brae, ken whit a mean? Fur money! Wi her mooth! Jings! She’s no richt in the heid!
            She should go to Arbroath Road an get much mair money, like Maggie does.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. The pedant in me compels me to clarify, for those not familiar with The Dear Green Place, that although Glasgow does (or did) indeed have a Glebe Street it was in Townhead (the Toonheid) not Auchenshuggle. The latter is in Dalbeth oan the urra side o’ the city. Why the creators of The Broons made such an error is difficult to comprehend. One might almost think said writers hailed from furth of Glasgow from some such place as Dundee.

              Liked by 1 person

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