Miss Agnes Toward was born in 1886 in Glasgow, Scotland. Her Father died when she was 3, her two sisters each died in infancy, one at 6 months from whooping cough, and the other at 1 year from abdominal tuberculosis caused by consuming infected raw milk.
In 1911 she and her mother rented a nearby 4 room middle-class tenement at 145 Buccleuch Street. In the early years financial need caused them to take on a boarder who occupied the only bedroom. Agnes and her mother slept in box beds that were located in the closets.
Agnes received the basic compulsory education of the day and then continued her education at her mother’s encouragement and expense. She became Glasgow’s first female “short hand stenographic typist”. Her mother died in 1939. Agnes went on to rent the tenement until her death in 1975.
What is remarkable is that Agnes changed virtually nothing within her 19th Century flat. She installed an electric light in 1960, yet continued to use the gas lights. They are still in operation today. The flat contains her original furnishings, personal effects, including toiletries and a jar of jam that she made in 1929, even the original coal fired cook stove.
The successor who purchased the apartment had the foresight to preserve the unit and contents in their original state, selling them 7 years later to Scotland’s National Trust. The Trust presents Agnes’s flat in its original state as an extraordinary window into Glasgow life of the late 19th and early 20th Century.
Peace Everyone. Pete
PS. We leave tomorrow for Edinburgh. We will be there 3 nights and then close the Scotland “chapter” of this journey as we return to the Continent.