Fairfield’s history captured in hilarious new book on scheme life

IMG_6601The history of a Perth housing estate has been detailed in a humorous and affectionate memoir which looks back on life growing up on one of Scotland’s working-class schemes during the 1970s and 1980s.

Hunter Crescent, a sprawling housing scheme just north of Perth city centre, was built in 1936 after an act of parliament calling for slum areas to be replaced with modern housing.

For its first thirty-five years, ‘Hunters’ was a model scheme with open spaces among its many benefits. But by the mid-1970s, things had gone horribly wrong and it took a group of tenants to get the place back on an even keel.

Empty homes were numbered in the hundreds and the estate was classed as one of the most deprived in Tayside and in the worst 3% in Europe. The population figure in 1987 stood at 520, where before it was more than 2,000.

Hunter Village Housing Co-operative, which later became Fairfield Housing Co-operative, was set up to regenerate the area and through the 1990s hundreds of homes were refurbished and 50 new properties built.

Now author Anthony Camilleri, who spent the first 16 years of his life in ‘Hunters’, has written a memoir about growing up there.

Described as an honest and uplifting account of life on the scheme, ‘Hunters: Wee Stories from the Crescent’ is as tragic as it is hilarious.

As Camilleri himself states: “It pulls no punches: these were grim times.”

He told The Courier: “My mum and dad (Rachel and Fred) moved into 11D Hunter Crescent in April 1967.

“After a period renting a one-bedroom at in Shore Road for £1.10s, they were delighted to move up in the world to what was then a desirable part of Perth to live … even if the rent was a steep £2 per week.

“The following year I was delivered by the stork. It was 1968 and it was still safe for storks to fly over Hunters’ airspace.

“Three years later my brother John was brought home by my mum in an ambulance – storks refused to land by the start of the 1970s.”

Grant Ager, chief executive of Fairfield Housing Co-operative, told Scottish Housing News: “We have been aware on Anthony working on this book for some years and are delighted he has persevered to get it to print. It’s a celebration of people and characters the real make up of communities with a mix of circumstances that many people will relate too throughout Scotland. He deserves great credit in capturing a unique part of Perth’s history.”

Hunters: Wee Stories from the Crescent, which contains a foreword from broadcaster and writer Stuart Cosgrove, will be launched at the Fairfield Neighbourhood Centre later this month and will be available from Tippermuir Books.

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