Unemployed colliery worker Glasgow tenement © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971 "They are the grimmest environment that I’ve encountered. This has something to do with the size of the stone used in their construction, the entry to them through the cave like entrances, the deep and dark stairwells and the relentless pattern of streets. The tenements are built around a courtyard which becomes a battlefield and refuse dump." - Nick Hedges

Nick Hedges – A Life Worth Living

In 1968, Shelter employed Nick Hedges to document the oppressive and abject living conditions being experienced in poor quality housing in the UK. We commissioned the work in an effort to raise consciousness about the extent of unfit living conditions and to illustrate, in human terms, what the real cost of bad housing was.

A number of Nick Hedges’ images are on display on large billboards in St Andrews Square in Edinburgh this month, if anyone  recognises the people photographed or know what happened to them they are encouraged to contact Shelter – you can do by emailing

Couple-in-a-Leith-tenement-flat-Edinburgh-1972-433-18
Couple in a Leith tenement flat Edinburgh © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1972
Family living in an overcrowded tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971
Family living in an overcrowded tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971
Mother living with her children in an overcrowded single end tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971
Mother living with her children in an overcrowded single end tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

The thing about people living in slum housing is that there is no drama…it’s about the absolute wearing down of people’s morale in a quiet and undemonstrative way.
Nick Hedges

View of Glasgow tenements © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971  "It is apparent in the number of times disaster hits the city, every year some tragic event reinforced its reputation upon the rest of the country. A tenement fire, a gas mains explosion, a football crowd disaster, the shipyard crisis, the unemployment rate, another fire disaster; the list is endless". Nick Hedges

View of Glasgow tenements © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Unemployed colliery worker Glasgow tenement © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971 "They are the grimmest environment that I’ve encountered. This has something to do with the size of the stone used in their construction, the entry to them through the cave like entrances, the deep and dark stairwells and the relentless pattern of streets. The tenements are built around a courtyard which becomes a battlefield and refuse dump." -  Nick Hedges
Unemployed colliery worker Glasgow tenement © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971


Teenage girls waiting in backyard of tenement block Maryhill © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971
Teenage girls waiting in backyard of tenement block Maryhill © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

See a link here on the Shelter website for Nick Hedges’ honest and striking account of his time photographing in Scotland for Shelter.

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