Posted in A to Z

C is for Closes

A lovely Wally Close
A lovely Wally Close

In Glasgow, a close is a communal stairwell of a tenement off which individual flats may be accessed.

The best kind of close was the ‘wally (to rhyme with galley) close’. These were closes whose walls were tiled with glossy ceramic tiles, usually in dark reds and greens, and often with a decorative tile border or panels. These closes could be found in posh areas where the tenements had been built in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

Our scheme (housing estate) was built in the 50s and the closes were plain and utilitarian. The council would paint the walls occasionally. Men in official overalls would slap corporation green or red at the walls and we’d be smelling pain in the flats for days afterwards.

Each landing had two flats leading off it. The occupants would take it in turns to wash the stairs once a week. We wouldn’t clean the entire tenement, but only from our flat at the top of the close, down to the floor below.

First, I’d sweep the stairs, clearing up the dead jennies (daddy-long-legs) and moths. The concrete would then be mopped over with hot water with bleach in.

Closes were also popular hiding places when playing hide and seek and there were girls who’d ‘go up a close wi’ oanybiddy’.

As a Doctor Who fan, up the stairs of my close was where I was going when the Daleks invaded.


Writer, photographer, creative fantasist.

9 thoughts on “C is for Closes

  1. When I married and moved to Glasgow we lived in a wally close. We were the top floor flat and there were no tenements on the other side of the road so as long as you didn’t look down to the street we had a totally green view. It was beautiful and one of the happiest places I have ever lived.

    I notice B was for Barlinnie, is D going to be for Drumchapel – where I worked ?!

  2. Nettie – What a brilliant memoir-type description of what a close is like. For a child, a close must have seemed like a magical place.

  3. You paint such a clear picture of growing up. I can almost smell the paint and the bleach. Great writing.

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