Thursday, 20 June 2013

In the archives: Livingston Skatepark (2)

One of the more popular posts on this blog has been about the skate park in Livingston, so I thought that I would simply post some pictures from back in the 1980s, when skating was new to Scotland, and clothing style was a little different too. All the pictures date from 1980 or 1981, except the ones with the kids at the end, which come from 1979 - before the park was built.

I love the pipe!

From the opening ceremony, 1982

Livingston Skate Kats, 1979. Taken at Craigsfarm Community Centre.

Housing Visitors Report for the month ending 31st March 1973

Ladywell, Howden, Barclayway.

[Tenant] [address] This tenant came at the beginning of the month. They have had difficulties over unpaid bills at their previous address. He was educated at a ‘Backward School’ and is ready to accept advice and help; his wife gets into a panic when confronted with things she cannot cope with. They have been given help with their rent rebate, furniture and taken to the SSEB Bathgate to arrange weekly payments (of their electricity bills). They are also paying rent on a weekly basis for the time being. He is now working regularly, but it will require friendly visits until a routine of paying bills is established. They have also had assistance with clothing.

[Tenant] [address] This young couple of six children, the eldest of whom is six. He frequently changes his job involving ‘lie-time’ which gives them no chance to budget on a regular basis. The family is known to the SWD, there are rent arrears, and although visits seem indicated, she is showing opposition to this.

[Tenant] [address] This woman is separated from her husband and coping with her family herself. She is in a very depressed state, mainly because her daughter is in a home being a Spastic/Epileptic and only capable of leading a vegetable existence. There is a teenage daughter unsettled at her work and causing her mother concern. There is a younger daughter who is again not attending school regularly, but I have the feeling that this has the mother’s approval, for some reason. She wants to bring her daughter home to stay, but this seems totally impracticable because of the girl’s health and [the tenant’s] health. I am of the opinion it would cause further disruption between the girls. It would seem a better solution to have the eldest daughter transferred to a Home nearer at hand where her mother could visit her oftener and the St Vincent De Paul are making moves in this direction.  

(this post has been edited to comply with data protection)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Housing Visitor Report for the Month Ending the 28th February, 1973.

Ladywell, Howden, Knighstridge
 By and large the tenants of Knightsridge feel they are ‘pioneering’ and have a feeling of being out of contact with the rest of the town.
The feeling is partly engendered by being in West Lothian and the children attending schools in eans, Bathgate and Broxburn. As a good number have taken tenancy over the dark winter period there does not seem to have been the usual neighbourliness. One charming little staff nurse is feeling particularly ostracised but implies this is because she is coloured. She would have been happier in Deans where she has friends. She occupies a ground flat and the neighbours upstairs upset her while she is studying, although they are not unduly noisy. She may settle in better in April when her sister comes to live with her.
At one point where there are OAPs facing on to a cul-de-sac there is some ill feeling about it. A) They do not have cars themselves but have them parked there – in one case the cars are parked almost against the gable wall. B) The cars are a disturbance C) People are tending to use the parking bay for repairing cars.
Untaxed cars are lying about in various places on the schemes.
The residents in Knightsridge would like the mobile library service extended to their area and this is apparently under consideration. Several tenants in Ladywell have expressed the concern that they think the Corporation has been niggardly by installing false drawers in the kitchen where there was room for proper drawers and also the area under the sink is open.
There are complaints also that the plants put in by the LDC at the front are too near the house and impede window cleaning.
A picture of the community space in Knightsridge, 1979

The 10,000th House in Livingston was opened in Deans in the 1970s

Deans Community High school under construction in the 1970s

Friday, 24 May 2013

In the Archives : Livingston Festival

By 1981 Livingston Festival was the largest community festival in Scotland.  But in the early years of the new town annual gala days were only held in Livingston Station and Village, where they were already an established tradition.  It was the celebration of Livingston’s tenth birthday in 1972 that inspired the beginning of a new West Lothian tradition in the form of an annual festival. 

The Livingston Development Corporation organised the first festival it was huge success and included art and industrial exhibitions, a Ladies Football match, schools open days and the Livingston Village gala.  The celebrations ended with a jazz concert and a fireworks display. The Corporation also staged the opening of the newly create Howden Park Centre. According to files in the archive, this first festival cost the Corporation £14,000
The town accepted the challenge set by the Chairman of Livingston Development Corporation to make the festival an annual event, - though with a lower budget, the 1973 and 1974 festival cost just over £1000. From 1973 the festivals began to roughly follow the same pattern.  The week opened with a parade of floats from each housing district, during the week the schools and housing districts competed against each other in a variety of organised events, there were schools open days, an art exhibition and a motor gymkhana.  The end of the festival was celebrated with a fireworks display in Howden Park.
Records in the Livingston Development Corporation collection include minutes of the Festival Committee, souvenir programmes and promotional material. They give an insight into the planning and organisation required to hold the Festival each year. 
'Ownership' of the festival changed through the years. After 1972, Livingston Community Council agreed to arrange the festivals but the Council was itself dissolved by 1975 (when Community Councils became the most local level of government in Scotland - Livingston had jumped the gun a little here and re-organised its community councils into districts) . A festival and gala committee was formed in 1975 with encouragement from Steve Trivett, Community Development Officer at the Corporation. The Festival association continued to arrange the festival until the mid 1990s, when the town wide festival was replaced with district gala days.
An early constitution of the Livingston Festival Committee, held in West Lothian Council Archives, stated as one of its main objectives:
 “To promote a Festival of which Livingston people can be proud”.
The records and photographs held in West Lothian Council Archives indicate that this objective was readily achieved.  The Festivals included a diverse range of events and activities such as festival floats, raft races, rock climbing, soap box derby, mini tattoo, Victorian Cricket Match, kite flying competition, athletics, Highland Dancing, roller derby and wheelbarrow races.
During 1985, the International Year of Youth, a Youth Theatre/Youth Arts project was formed under the umbrella of the Festival.  Their production ‘Spectrum’ was performed three times during the Festival and featured a cast of over 50 young people from all over West Lothian.
Over the years local communities within the town established their own galas and the town wide Festival was reduced to a one-day event.
Youth organisations at the festival, 1974

Festival Floats, 1974

Highland Dancing at the Festival
Tug of war at the festival

Livingston's First Festival, 1972

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Housing Visitor Report for the Month Ending the 28th February, 1973.

Craigshill and Deans
This month I had a four day absence from work and consequently visited 138 tenants, 49 of these being new to the town, the rest included in two surveys we are carrying out at present. The surveys brought me into contact with many people I might not otherwise have met until some distant future date and about 80% of these people had problems they wished to discuss – mostly relatively minor and easily dealt with, never-the-less this slowed down both the survey and the visiting of new tenants.
The foremost problem of the month came from Deans where tenants are awaiting with trepidation the arrival of their electricity bills. [A tenant] and friend from two doors away drew my attention to this, though others followed. In [the tenant’s ] case, the Electricity Board representative had called and explained that she would need to pay £14 per month to run her heating (electricity warm air system) which only heats the lower regions of the house. Upstairs she has one night storage heater and the Electricity Board Rep warned her that she was better not to use this as the monthly payment would have to be higher still. [The Tenant] is in a five apartment house, so far the seven apartments in the area have not come to my attention as they have not been let.  [Another tenant] has the same system with just one storage heater upstairs which certainly does not heat the whole upper floor, she tells me her bill is going to top £50 for 3 months (and the house has not really been warm) since she has read her meter weekly and then calculated the cost. She is a very worried woman, as are others I spoke to.
I am still in some doubt as to who is responsible for elderly people and disabled people’s gardens. When Councillor Duggan raised this matter at a recent Old Peoples’ Welfare Committee meeting he was told LDC would investigate, although when I raised the question Mr Leitch concerning a tenant on Melbourne Street, and his garden I was told that this was a matter for Mr Drummond who in turn told me the matter was a question for the property department of the LDC. Perhaps it would be possible to raise the questions – could disabled persons have their invalid carriages garaged at a cheaper rate? These small contraptions appear to be a target for petrol pilferers and hooligans looking for something ot damage and they are of course a necessity in the life of these crippled people.
A tenant on Brisbane street has at last succumbed to the efforts of Mr Leitch and myself and has ‘cleaned’ up her house. The house is still very iffused, full of condensation and dirty but in comparison to last we week we had to admit there had been some improvement. She also paid a further £10 off her rent arrears.
Arrangements have been made with Miss Sill for one of her visitors to call on a [named tenant] in the evenings to help ease her loneliness problems.
A tenant on Spruce Grove has been supplied with a wardrobe and dressing table since she was short of these two articles and has a big family, she is trying very hard to please us.
The most problematic case in Craigshill is that of XXXX. In six months she has only paid £21 rent and with legal fees now owes us £70. I have taken her into the Mall office to discuss the situation with Mr Leitch but her story is very incomprehensible. It appears her husband is... [away]  and hasn’t been sending her money. Throughout the six months that I have visited the girl I have not heard a really coherent version of what is going on and I rather think there is some dire marital difficult here. She has a baby, her house is very clean and well furnished. Mr Leitch and I are awaiting the outcome of our conversation with her which ended in her saying she would try to pay us £41 these weekend the 2nd March 1973.
Throughout the past months I have been trying to forestall this situation by calling on her because I felt there was going to be a problem here, she does not appear to fully realise her financial predicament, or alternatively she is so worried by the circumstances that the financial problem is insignificant. I am worried about what is going to happen here.
There have been problems with newcomers in Craigshill this month, one a hysterical woman with shattered nerves – I called in the Doctor and she was given tranquilisers with good effect, I am calling regularly to see her meantime. The other problem was marital difficulties for [a named tenant]. This problem could be sorted out now after a long talk with her, she has our card and phone number in order to contact me should things not run smoothly.
Since the appearance in the evening papers of the names and addresses of the people responsible for letting their dogs run loose and the fact that they were fined, this has resulted in a few less dog roaming about the town. How long this improved situation will last is a mute point.  

Thursday, 16 May 2013

In the Archives: The Official Record of the Livingston Development Corporation

As has been stated this blog is based on the records of the Livingston Development Corporation .  A lot of these posts have been based on records that no one thought would be useful to history at the time of their creation but were kept later because they revealed something about what had happened and why.
Very few archival collections are created with an eye for recording history for posterity. However, the LDC did create some records as a legal record of its actions. These parts of the collection are what I refer to as the official history – they would be the key resource, say, if anyone ever wanted to write a history of the organisation (there was, by the way  a book commissioned by the LDC called Livingston: The Making of the New Town, which his  very much an official history – it misses out all the juicy gossip).
Plan presented to the LDC board showing
layout of new golf course. c 1975
The most obvious series of official records are the minutes, papers and agendas of the Board Meeting of the Corporation. Every time a major decision was made in Livingston it had to be approved by the Board. The board consisted of about 7 members who were appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland and included industrial heavy weights and local councillors – people who could pull in investment in to the New Town.
Artistic impression of the then planned Pentland House, Livingston
town centre
The Board met every month and its meetings it set policy and strategic aims of the Corporation. Once this policy had been set it was down to the Chief Executive, the chief officers and other Corporation staff to interpret and enact the Board’s ideas. Every time a Chief Officer (housing, finance, planning etc) ever wanted a major undertaking to go ahead, he (they were all men...) had to get approval, first from the Chief Executive, and then from the Board.  Each month Corporation staff presented papers to the Board. Each paper was on a particular subject explaining its history and what they wanted to happen, and asking for their authorisation – in the process they recorded the history of the growth of Livingston.  We hold a comprehensive selection of these papers for later years, but, especially during the 1960s, the board papers are limited (we have a full run of minutes, but these can be brief compared to the papers)
The second major series we hold is again related to the Board, and these are the Board Drawings and Slides, which, again, are copies of maps and plans, either in hard copy or in slide format, which were presented to the Board on a particular subject and which needed Board approval.
Floor Plan for a community building in Ladywell, c. 1974
Some 17,000 Board Drawings were also deposited. In combination with the Board Minutes and Agenda/Papers, they are the most important and vital series of records produced by LDC. These are the presentation drawings of all construction, alteration and execution of works within the designation area. The drawings are a wonderful collection providing information on Architectural, Landscaping and Planning proposals, both approved and rejected over the years. It is unfortunate that the full series from the very earliest days of LDC has not survived, with c. 5 years from 1962 being incomplete. As the Board was the planning authority for Livingston, these board drawings are legal documents.
It is these few records – the board drawings and minutes – that were created with an eye on history. They are the official record of the Corporation’s activities, showing the Corporation as it wanted to be seen, both by the bodies who audited its activities and by later generations.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Findings from Visits to New Arrivals, in response to letter from Washington Development Corporation, County Durham.

It has been found that there are three phases to the ‘settling-in’ process in the new town. While this is a general finding, the length of each ‘phase’ varies for each family.
Phase 1: Honeymoon period. During this time the family is so excited by its new home that everything seems perfect. It is difficult to point out the problems and drawbacks. This ends when all the furniture has arrived and been placed, the new carpets are fitted, husband is settled in work again, and children at school. It is common for the family to revisit Glasgow/Edinburgh etc. at weekends or for parents/in-laws to visit the family here, so that there is little opportunity to explore the possibilities of the town.
Phase II: this begins when there is no longer the flurry of finding the shops, the school, the doctor etc., and the worry of evaluating the decision to come here commences in the ligh to fits consequences. A feeling of isolation is common and doubts are very strong, homesick feelings being quite usual.
                Contributory factors:
1.       Wrong expectations. Ofter a family will expect some long standing family problem to be solved by this move, although they very rarely admit this, even to themselves. This can greatly increase anxiety at this time. There is also misinformation about the town itself and anger results when the truth is discovered (usually wrong ideas about employment situation, shops, buses)
2.       Bus services. The absence of rail services and the comparative infrequency of buses compared to the city makes it very difficult for people to travel to work and drop in on their old haunts. This causes great frustration, as families are made to feel completely dependent on the town right from the start without gradually ‘growing away’ from their previous home.
3.       Telephones. Corner telephones are very important to the new arrival for him to keep in contact, especially with elderly relative whom he may feel he has abandoned . This is accentuated by delays in installation of private lines (several months at times).
4.        Day nurseries. A young mother’s feeling of isolation can be increased to desperation if she cannot escape from her under-5s. While we have play groups in the town, these can only take a child for two sessions a week at most, and there are waiting lists, even for this facility. It is not enough for a mother coping with several under 5s.  There is no facility for under 3s. A young mother may miss extended family where grandmothers, aunts etc., could keep children while mum went shopping, to the hairdressers.
5.       Absence of commercial facilities which town dwellers expect. This includes shops, cinema, restaurant, Barrows, swimming pool. Although these facilities may never have been used by the family in the city, they miss the availability and the opportunity. Shops are really missed as a day at the shops cannot be spent here.
6.       Strangeness of layout. Whilst this is not important in itself, frustration is felt at not knowing the area and segregated pathways are initially confusing. Although street plans are given out with other town information, this is often put away during the first phase and not remembered when it is needed.
Phase III:             This is the time when the family will settle (or not), and depends largely on the effect of the above factors on the family, especially wrong expectations. Most families do settle perfectly well, and enjoy living here. If a visit can be made to the family during phase II (about 8 weeks after arrival) this can make an enormous difference to anxiety level.
Those who do not settle –
1.       Families coming ONLY for the sake of a house. Usual comment “If I could only take this ho use back with me to....”
2.       Families coming with a problem – unemployment, debt, truancy, marital problems. They expect too much, and cannot find their traditional forms of help in the area. Thier sense of failure can be increased in a new town as they feel they have no reason to fail. A visitor can greatly help this type of family.
3.       Older parents (40+), who have no family in the area.
Those who do settle:
1.       The vast majority of people, who are happy within their own family unit and appreciate the housing and environment which gives them an opportunity to be part of something new.
2.       Those with a special interest in some club or other, as they have plenty of scope here to develop this and the town is very glad of their help and interest. They can build up tremendous morale in their own family and in the town.
3.       Ex-service families, who are used to moving around a lot and settling quickly. They do not expect much in the way of facilities, and like the idea of a new town. They are often a bit older than the average young family.
4.       Pensioners. Our pensioners are exceptionally happy here, possibly because they have an extra last chance to have a good time. Their clubs and activities thrive, and there is also an outlet for those who wish to help the old.
5.       Families returned from Canada/Australia etc. For some reason these people settle very well, perhaps for the same reasons as ex-service people.
Janet & Joan.