Roman Crescent

The Arrival

Evelyn Campbell

My first memories were, in actual fact, we arrived on a horse and cart with all the furniture. I remember jumping off and running down the path and running up to this new house – it was upstairs – it was a four in the block and we were upstairs. It was coal fires and we had a back to back hearth and my Mum used to hang our socks up at night in the kitchen – it kept the kitchen warm and we had a coal fire in one of the bedrooms too.

The dumps

Jim McCall

The workings from the building of the houses - and there was a lot of sand up at that end of the scheme, huge big piles of sand; and between the houses on one side of Roman Crescent, and the housing where the old prefabs had been, at the top end of Roman Crescent, that divide between the houses was primarily woodland and we called it The Dumps – again because there was lots of workings – I remember lots of sand there. There were very few trees or foliage, it was all a huge big play area of sand, it was a great area to play. And then on the other side of the house of course we had the canal, which was busy because there was lots of traffic on the canal - primarily puffers and fishing boats coming from the east.

Prefabs

Jim McCall

After the Second World War, huge shortage of housing. The government needed to build housing quickly and the prefabs were functional and could be built very quickly. At the top of Roman Crescent before you come down the road... the scheme wasn’t there - there were a number of prefabs built there, not many, probably about a dozen prefabs. We were about the first one off the Dumbarton Road, on the left. We had a garden, a front and back door. The novel feature was the fact that you had a fridge in the kitchen, which was a great luxury: it was unknown to have a fridge!

The 'tinkers' camp

Jim McCall

Then of course there was the other presence of the 'tinker' community; adjacent to Roman Crescent was a piece of land that’s now used as a kind of boatyard at the canal house: that was called the 'tinkers' park. So that was a camping site, the 'tinkers' would regularly camp there - as well as that piece of ground they camped down Bowling shore and I surmise that they’d camped there - this is going back for many generations.

We weren’t scared of them, we were aware of them. They would come round the housing, sharpening knives and forks and general bartering, maybe do a bit of palm reading or what have you... they were very much part of the Scottish scene. In the summer months there would be the 'tinkers' camp. It was a big black tarpaulin – you could smell their camp fire – it was very exotic!

Games at the circle

Sheena Johnston

That was what we called ‘the circle’ and we would meet and we’d come out at night and play skipping ropes and, you know, play the beds and the chalk on the pavement. And we had a great game called tracking. We’d put wee arrows and we’d all try and find our way to this special place that you’d go to. It was all great you know. You were out all the time.

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