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Central StationFrom the past. (Pictures © Network Rail)
Rare pictures show Glasgow Central station under construction (© The Scotsman)
The new approach bridge over the Clyde, built 1901-05. The roof of the former Bridge Street station can be seen in the distance.
It’s Scotland’s busiest railway station, with more than 30 million passengers using it every year.
Glasgow Central is both a transport hub and a landmark in its own right, dominating the city centre in a way no
other building can match.
Glasgow Central was largely rebuilt from 1901-05 to accomodate growing passenger numbers.
Now rarely seen photographs have shed new light on a major rebuilding project at the turn of the 20th century
which created the station in its current form. First opened in 1879 by the Caledonian Railway, growing passenger
numbers soon meant the original Central was deemed to small. Pictures reveal the first concourse was considerably
more crampt than the spacious complex of today - with passengers jostling for space with numerous horsedrawn
cabs. By 1899, some 16.8 million passengers were using the high level station, with a further 6.4 million using the
low level platforms.
The foundations of the Central station extension are built, circa 1902.
A system had also developed in which trains from Paisley stopped at Bridge Street station, on the south bank of the
Clyde, rather than progressing into the city centre. A plan was approved in 1900 to comprehensively rebuild Central
and bring all its services under one roof. The project began in 1901 with work continuing for four years. A new
eight track approach bridge built over the Clyde, while the existing bridge was raised in height.
The original Glasgow Central concourse, with horsedrawn cabs able to park adjacent to the trains, pictured shortly after the station opened.
A total of 13 platforms were installed, the concourse greatly expanded to accommodate a wide range of shops, and
the iconic Central station roof was extended to accommodate the new space. The revamped terminus was unveiled to
widespread approval and cemented Central’s status as Glasgow’s leading station. The rare pictures of the redevelopment
were shared with The Scotsman by Network Rail, the current owners and operators of the station, as part of an on-going
scheme to celebrate its unique heritage.
The Scotsman revealed yesterday a derelict platform in the low level station is to be restored to its Edwardian heyday to
enhance popular behind-the-scenes tours of the complex.
Bridge Street station shortly before it closed in 1905. The station, to the south of the river, was the original Glasgow terminus of services to and from Paisley.
Tracks will be re-laid and a vintage train carriage from the era shunted into the long-forgotten low-level platform. A re-created
bookstall will display historic newspapers, with other features to include shop fronts, old-fashioned vending machines and
gas-effect lighting. Funding for the restoration, which is due to start next month, will come from revenue from the tours of
the station, which have attracted 29,000 people in two years. The low-level station closed in 1964, and two of its four platforms
remained shut when the cross-city Argyle line re-opened in 1979.
The Central station roof is extended.
Looking south towards Bridge Street.
The expanded high level concourse, shortly after it was finished in 1905.
Hidden Glasgow Central platform to be re-opened after 50 years (© The Scotsman)
A steam train pulls into the now disused Glasgow Central low level platform c1955. Picture: HC Casserley.
A derelict platform in the bowels of Scotland’s busiest station is to be restored to its heyday a century ago to
enhance popular behind-the-scenes tours of the complex.
Tracks will be re-laid and a vintage train carriage from the era shunted into the long-forgotten low-level platform
at Glasgow Central, The Scotsman has learned.
Glasgow Central historian and tour guide Paul Lyons beside the derelict low level platform. Picture: John Devlin
A re-created bookstall will display historic newspapers, with other features to include shop fronts, old-fashioned
vending machines and gas-effect lighting. Funding for the restoration, which is due to start next month, will come
from revenue from the tours of the station, which have attracted 29,000 people in two years. Old rails which have
been replaced on other lines will be laid by Network Rail trainees on the old track bed. The low-level station closed
in 1964, and two of its four platforms remained shut when the cross-city Argyle line re-opened in 1977(sic).
Construction of Glasgow Central low level station in the 1890s. Picture: Network Rail
The disused platform to be restored is now divided from the re-opened ones by a wall. A new staircase and lighting
were installed last year to provide access, which was previously only possible by ladder. The completely enclosed
platform has lain virtually untouched since smoke from steam trains deposited their last soot on the blackened brick
walls and roof more than half a century ago. The line - which opened in 1896 and runs underground through the city
centre - was described as “sombre, sulphurous and Plutonian” by the poet C Hamilton Ellis in 1938. Smoke from
trains was so thick that in the gloom, knife-wielding robbers cut handbags from the arms of female passengers.
The crimes led to the creation of a women’s waiting room to improve safety.
Sign to the low level platforms from the main concourse at Glasgow Central Station. Picture: Network Rail
The restoration plans are part of a development scheme for the tours drawn up by station owner Network Rail. Glasgow
Central is used by 34 million people a year and more than 1,000 trains a day. Station manager Susan Holden said:
“Underneath Central, there is a whole other world, which has a big story to tell. The tours are providing us with new
income we never had before.”
The current tours take visitors below stairs, to areas not normally seen by the public, such as huge former coal and
grain stores, and a temporary mortuary used in the First World War. The dead were carried off trains and left on rows of
stretchers covered in Army blankets. Their relatives had the horrific task of finding and identifying them. Widows often
had to resort to paying strangers loitering on the streets outside to carry the stretchers for them. Some of the empty
stretchers were still stored at the station as late as the 1950s, and a hunt is now on to find surviving examples to go
Trips onto the station’s 48,000-pane glass roof - one of the largest in Europe - are also to be revived as a separate tour,
offering stunning views across the city Glasgow Central historian Paul Lyons, who organises the trips, said: “They are
not just tours of a railway station, but tap into the consciousness of the people of Glasgow. I never thought we would
have tapped into the psyche of the city, but there is such a love for the railway. We are helping to keep people’s memories
alive, such as a couple in their late 80s who came on a tour and whose parents met at the station in the early 1900s, or
people who saw off soldiers leaving for the First World War from platform one, never to come back.”
Such stories are incorporated into the tours, while new artefacts keep coming to light, such as telegrams from 1919, a
pack of Kensitas cigarettes from 1928, and newspapers from the 1940s. Mr Lyons is also planning a First World War
memorial to the women of Glasgow, including a brass plaque and a poem in Scots. The huge interest in the tours have
included 83,500 applications for 100 free places during the Doors Open Day festival. One visitor has been on the tour
12 times. Their success has led Network Rail to consider launching tours at some of the other stations it manages,
including King’s Cross in London. However, at Waverley Station in Edinburgh, funding would be required to provide
safe public access to closed-off areas under the concourse.
Rail industry insiders welcomed the development of the Glasgow Central tours. One said: “This project will help recapture
the era when the Second City of Empire was awash with confidence and optimism, and trains took commuters home to
the stylish new suburbs of the West End and beyond.”
This actually sounds like it will be some addition to the city that will make sense in the long run.
As long as they don't mount the train high on the wall where you can get a good look at it
Wouldn't the second and third posts be better placed on the Low Level thread?
I think this is a brilliant addition to the Low Level and goes some way to restoring much of what was lost when the original features were swept away during the re-opening of the Argyle Line.
When they say 'a vintage carriage from the era', I wonder what era they are talking about - 1896 when the station opened, or 1964 when it closed?
I'd also like to see a replica of Glasgow Central Low Level East signal box!
In relation to the photo of the stairs down to the low level station adjacent to platform 12 and 13, where would that be in relation to the current layout of the station?
|stan63 wrote: |
|In relation to the photo of the stairs down to the low level station adjacent to platform 12 and 13, where would that be in relation to the current layout of the station?
Pretty much where the current stairs and escalators are, I think.
Would it be this staircase?
If not, where does this lead to?
|Steve wrote: |
|Would it be this staircase?
If not, where does this lead to?
They are connected but are not the same. The answer to the original query is correct, that was and still is the main stairway between High Level and Low Level at the top of the old Carriage Driveway, and went no further than it does today - down to Hope Street and Argyle Street level. You have two more to go before you set foot on a Low Level platform.
In addition to and connecting with the foot of the main stairway there was a corridor, entrance under the Heilanman - I think nearer the Union Street end than today, that had stairway connections all along it that led up to High Level platforms 1 to 10?
I've only used this once and hate to say it must be around 60 years ago now, a wee boy with my parents, and dark as hell. There was a ticket office and booking hall down there, the corridor came off the west end of it, and it had stairways all along it up to the high level platforms, with the high level platform numbers on wooden boards at the foot of the stairs, 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 and 9/10. I think we went up platform 5.
You can see the corridor at the foot of the stairs in your photo. The lighting is much better today when the thing is no longer in public use!