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The Gatekeeper of the Gorbals

Catching angels in the Gorbals

I’m in Glasgow to watch the unveiling of Britain’s only suspended sculpture. Called the Gatekeeper, a grim, lead-cast angel weighing a ton and a half sways gently under a big archway leading into the latest development in the legendary story of the Gorbals.

Once home to nearly 100,000 migrants from Ireland and the Scottish highlands, the Gorbals had by the 1930s become the most famous slum in Europe. This was the district that made the architectural term “tenement” notorious and gave Britain its first razor-gang novel, No Mean City. In the 1960s, just as the…

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