‘Proud’: Drumchapel’s first gala queen on why Glasgow ‘scheme’ is the best

It was the late 60s and – she believes – the first time Glasgow’s new housing scheme had held a ‘coronation’ as part of the annual celebrations.

“The coronation took place at the community centre, and I remember receiving the crown from Alasdair Gillies, a Drumchapel dentist who was also a well-known Scottish singer,” recalls Janice, whose maiden name was Keating.

“Wow – my family was so proud.”

Glasgow Times: Janice as Gala Queen in the mid-60sJanice as Gala Queen in the mid-60s (Image: Gordon Terris/Newsquest)

Huge crowds, including 450 local schoolchildren, local councillors and the area’s MP, took part. Janice and an impressive number of attendants led the parade on a 32ft lorry supplied by the Clyde Bonding Co. The queen and her team visited the geriatric and children’s wards at Drumchapel Hospital while pipe bands played outside.

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The local newspaper reported: “Maryhill Police were out in ‘Force’….the pensioners were out with their collection boxes and it is believed 72 dozen hotdogs were cooked by the canteen ladies….”

Janice, adds, with a smile: “It was a beautiful day. And Drumchapel was a great place to live.”

As Drumchapel celebrates its 70th anniversary, Janice got in touch to share her memories of growing up in the area.

Glasgow Times: Janice Smith, nee Keating, is proud of her home townJanice Smith, nee Keating, is proud of her home town (Image: Gordon Terris/Newsquest)

Drumchapel was created by Glasgow Corporation in 1953, to help house 34,000 people – part of the city’s ‘overspill’ population – on undeveloped land to the north west of the city.

Like fellow schemes Castlemilk, Easterhouse and Pollok, “the Drum” was to become a self-contained satellite township with its own shops, schools, churches, open spaces and facilities.

Those facilities were slow to materialise, however, and when recession hit in the 70s, Drumchapel was badly affected by high unemployment.

Janice is keen to speak up for an area she believes is “rising from the ashes” as it marks its milestone birthday.

Born in 1956, she lived in a top floor flat on Kinfauns Drive with her mum and dad Jack and Jan (known by everyone else as Uncle Jack and Aunty Net) and brother Jason.

Glasgow Times: Janice at Drumchapel Community CentreJanice at Drumchapel Community Centre (Image: Gordon Terris/Newsquest)

“The view from our lounge stretched all the way to the Canniesburn plastic surgery hospital,” says Janice, smiling.

“I went to Stonedyke Primary, which was directly behind my granny’s flat on Glenkirk Drive. In 1966, when she died, I moved to Pinewood Primary, then Waverley Primary.

“I joined the Waverley Girls’ Choir, led by Sandy Leiper, and I was the youngest member of the senior choir led by Stanley Wilson. He also took charge of the orchestra where I played the violin.

“We had a drama group, folk music and film society – the school was very proactive, and took a real interest in those of us who were willing and able to join in.”

Sadly both of Janice’s parents died young, Jack at the age of 50, and Jan at 57, just nine years after her husband.

“Our immediate neighbours were wonderful,” recalls Janice. “The love, support and kindness shown to me and my brother will remain with me forever.

“People mock Drumchapel, even look down on it, yet I found the people incredibly kind. I never deny growing up there. It’s not where you grow up, but with whom and by whom you are brought up that counts.

“I felt safe, and I could walk, cycle or run anywhere. Churches and chapels laid on kids’ discos, ping-pong tables, garden fetes and so much more. It was a thriving, friendly, go-ahead town.”

Glasgow Times: Janice Smith, who is sharing her memories of Drumchapel as the area marks its 70th anniversaryJanice Smith, who is sharing her memories of Drumchapel as the area marks its 70th anniversary (Image: Gordon Terris/Newsquest)

Janice left home to work for British Airways, travelling the world, and she now lives in Stewarton with her husband Gordon.

She held the position of a ‘British Airways Personality Girl’ for four years, working as an ambassador for the airline and appearing at events up and down the country.

Glasgow Times: Janice in her Miss British Airways daysJanice in her Miss British Airways days (Image: Janice Smith)

“Drumchapel furthered my career rather than worsened it,” she says. “It was a great place to grow up, and it looks like it is rising from its ashes again, which is fantastic.”

She adds, smiling: “Maybe it should be renamed Phoenixtown. I’m very proud of my home town.”

As Drumchapel celebrates its 70th anniversary, we’d love to hear from residents, past and present, who have fond memories of living and working there. Email or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG.



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