The Bruce Plan was published in the last days of the Second World War. All over the country towns and cities were planning to rebuild, not only bomb damaged areas, but to overcome the legacy of their too rapid growth since the industrial revolution.
This was an era of massive political will for change.
The railways, mines and power companies were to be nationalised. A health service based on need not money was to be provided for all. Education for the young, pensions for the old were to be extended.
Glasgow was Scotland’s greatest city by far. Over one in five of the population lived there. Glasgow was Scotland’s industrial and cultural powerhouse. Glasgow influenced and Glasgow set the pace.
Glasgow’s citizens lived in one of the most overcrowded cities in the world. Despite the great wealth generated in such a frontier town of the industrial age poverty was endemic. On the positive side, living in a great city offered advantages. The mighty Corporation of the City of Glasgow, the city authority, could provide much better services than most smaller cities and towns. The city was a centre for culture, sport and education as well as industry.
Since the beginning of the planning movement, at the end of the 19th century, the horrors of the unplanned industrial city had created a powerful anti-city political sentiment. The Garden City Movement had begun to tackle urban blight.
The Corporation knew a powerful anti-Glasgow momentum in government planners and politicians existed. The Corporation knew powerful forces planned, in tackling the city’s problems, to reduce the city’s power and influence, to bring Glasgow down to the level of the rest of small town Scotland.
They knew the New Towns Act was coming. They had been banned from rebuilding within their pre-War boundaries.
The Bruce Plan should then be seen as an alternative vision, an insurance policy, a manifesto in defence of the city.
The artists impressions especially show the influence of 20th Century’s megalomanic extremist of international modern architecture Le Corbusier but the words in the plan express a desire to redevelop in area by area, community by community.
Glasgow didn’t win its battle with the anti-city government, The city’s population was reduced by almost half. Many skilled workers and the factories they worked in were paid to relocate elsewhere.
By the mid-1950s when the city was allowed to build more inside its own boundaries a new era of system-built multi-storeys housing had been promoted by a government concerned with numbers and not the quality of houses built.
Much of the Bruce Plans inclusive community sentiments had been ditched and the hard line Comprehensive Development Areas policy had bulldozed into action.