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Project launched to trace children photographed in Scotland's slums

Project launched to trace children photographed in Scotland's slums

A search is under way to locate the children featured in iconic photographs of Scotland’s tenement slums.

Taken by documentary photographer Nick Hedges around 45 years ago, the collection of photographs depict the lives of families in Edinburgh and Glasgow living in cold, damp and often dangerous conditions.

In 1968, homeless charity Shelter commissioned Hedges to document the oppressive and abject living conditions being experienced in poor quality housing in the UK, to illustrate, in human terms, what the real cost of bad housing was.

He spent three years visiting some of Scotland’s poorest and most deprived areas, documenting housing conditions and quashing the myth that only people on the streets are homeless.

  (Mr and Mrs C lived with their children in a derelict flat in the Gorbals - photo by Nick Hedges)
via STV via STV

Hedges initially set a 45 year ban on the photographs being used in Scotland, in order to protect the young children and their families in the images.

With the restriction now lifted, the photographer now hopes to track downs the subjects he met all those years ago to hear their stories, and revisit the areas they once called home.

  (The collection of photographs, taken only 45 years ago by Nick Hedges for housing and homelessness charity Shelter, depict the lives of families living in cold, damp and often dangerous conditions.)
via STV via STV

"It would be wonderful to meet the children I photographed all those years ago and to hear their stories," said Hedges.

"I often wonder what happened to them, if they went on to lead happy and healthy lives.

"When I was commissioned by Shelter to take these photographs, I never imagined that decades later they would still have such impact - none more so than on me personally. The poverty and terrible conditions I witnessed shocked me to the core.

"My hope is that all these years later, by reconnecting with some of those I photographed, I am able to hear good news of what happened to the families.

"I guess you could say it would bring closure to the project some 45 years after it all began."

  (Small child, photographed in tenement doorway in Glasgow - photo by Nick Hedges)
via STV via STV

According to charity Shelter Scotland, which is helping to coordinate the search, many of those featured in the original photographs will now be aged between 50 and 70.

A selection of the over 1000 photographs are on display for the first time in Scotland in a free open air exhibition on St Andrew Square in Edinburgh. The exhibition is sponsored by PwC and runs until October 30.

  (Mr and Mrs A lived with their 3 children in a single room. "Employment’s very very bad. I’ve been out twelve months. I started out as a machinist but latterly I’ve been taking anything" - Nick Hedges)
via STV via STV

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: "I encourage anyone who recognises themselves, or family members and friends to get in touch with us. We want to hear the stories behind these iconic images, and in particularly what happened after they were taken.

"These photographs are a sobering piece of history not only for Shelter Scotland, but the nation as a whole and it’s important to preserve the stories behind them.

"They show us how far we have come in providing safe, secure and affordable housing to the people of Scotland, but also that we must do more for the tens of thousands of families and individuals still desperate for a home to call their own."

Life in the Scottish slums of the 1960s revealed in new exhibition

Read More

To view the images please visit the online gallery. If you recognise yourself, or someone else in the images, please contact mediascotland@shelter.org.uk

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