Tower blocks’ crumbling image restored in new archive of high life

Press/Media: Press Release


Experts are creating a unique visual archive of every tower block in the UK to help restore high flats’ beleaguered reputation.


Social and architectural historians from Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) will create a publically accessible catalogue that celebrates Britain’s post-1945 building boom, at a time when high-rise homes are increasingly threatened with demolition.


Tower Blocks – Our Blocks! has been described as a “Domesday Book” of the UK’s post-war reconstruction. It will contain images of every single multi-storey public housing project ever constructed in Britain, including ones destroyed more than 30 years ago.  


The three-year Heritage Lottery-funded project will digitise 3500 images taken in the 1980s and make them fully searchable as part of th_JTe Tower Block Slide Archive.


Among them are the Red Road and Gorbals schemes in Glasgow, the Everton flats in Liverpool, Birmingham’s Chelmsley Wood, Manchester’s Hulme redevelopment, and London estates such as Broadwater Farm, Thamesmead and Roehampton.


Professor Miles Glendinning, head of the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies at Edinburgh College of Art, said: “We hope this project will help contribute to the ongoing shift in public attitudes towards the post-war Modernist housing heritage, which is fast turning from an object of dislike and alienation into a force for potential community empowerment.


“Council tower blocks were once the most prominent and dramatic legacy of the post-1945 reconstruction drive, but mass demolitions over the past 35 years, still continuing today, have depleted this vast heritage, leaving it obscured or incomprehensible to the public at a time when popular interest in post-war Modernist heritage is sharply increasing.”


Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “Without archives, vast segments of our nation’s history would be missing. As the high rise towers that have dominated many towns’ and city’s skylines begin to disappear, it is important for us to capture this heritage and give voice to the experiences of those who live in these flats and communities. The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to be able to help make this happen.”


The £52,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help digitise the photographs and support local outreach initiatives which encourage high-rise residents to tell their stories, and aid them in telling community histories. The project will be completed in late 2017.


For further information please contact:
Edd McCracken, Press and PR Office, tel 0131 651 4400; email


Notes to Editors


About the Heritage Lottery Fund:  Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy.  From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3 bn across the UK.

Period11 Feb 2015 → 12 Feb 2015

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleTower blocks’ crumbling image restored in new archive of high life
    Media name/outletHeritage Lottery Fund
    PersonsMiles Glendinning
  • TitleTower blocks’ crumbling image restored in new archive of high life
    Media name/outletEdinburgh College of Art
    PersonsMiles Glendinning
  • TitleEvery UK tower block to be recorded
    Media name/outletUniversity of Edinburgh
    PersonsMiles Glendinning