Last Exit From Bridgeton

An east end childhood remembered.

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Book review: Last Exit from Bridgeton

A book about the social history of life in the Glasgow tenements

‘Last Exit from Bridgeton’ by James McKenna (The Grimsay Press 2006 paperback)

This is the sort of book you would read on a cold winter’s night, sitting comfortably in your armchair next to a warm cosy fire. You would pour yourself a whisky, sit back, let the light of the standard lamp bathe the book in a pleasant glow and you would settle down to enjoy a good read and if you have lived in this city back in the 1950s, this book will bring back so many memories.

James McKenna’s story of his upbringing in the east end of Glasgow is a nostalgic trip down memory lane. There’s a lot of happy memories and some sad. He’s not overly sentimental and tends to go into great detail into some events that he witnessed when growing up. This is not only a book about the social history of life in the old tenements of Glasgow - it’s also an insight into the people and places that shaped the young James McKenna’s life. It’s a gentle meander down streets long gone, or streets that have changed beyond all recognition for those of us who once lived in them. It’s as though James McKenna is sitting beside you and recounting these stories on a one-to-one basis.

The Second Edition of this book has contributions from people who were born or lived in Bridgeton. Many of the contributors he knew from the messageboard of Glesca Pals on the internet. There is a brief forward by Lorraine Kelly and one of the guest contributors is Willie Miller, the former Aberdeen and Scotland footballer player.

The first time I became aware of James McKenna (or Jamesy, as most of us knew him) was on the Glesca Pals messageboard, in which he regularly posted. He made over 30,000 posts since the messageboard was launched in 2003. I met Jamesy a few times after that in the Mitchell Library’s Computer Section, which he called his office. He always had time for a chat. I also met him at one of Glesca Pal’s hoose parties.

  • James McKenna attained an Honours History degree from the University of Strathclyde in 1991 and contributed to Glasgow Museums reminiscence project, 2000 Glasgow Lives. - James McKenna (1947 -2009)

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