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Glasgow Subway Pre-and-During Modernisation

- Gap74 - Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 : goo

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image 29448
West Street

Ok folks, I'm a long-time lurker who's finally outing himself, so to speak,to post some pics I've been meaning to scan for quite some time.

I must preface this posting with the fact that I'm afraid these are all the work of another that I'm scanning, but I only do so in the hope that at least a few of you go out and buy the book they're taken from (which is Glasgow Subway Album by a chap called George Watson, published by Adam Gordon. It's probably a bit of a minority interest subject, this, but I know at least a couple of you on this site will enjoy these!

The author was lucky enough to be working for the Greater Passenger Transport Executive during the last years of the old underground, and he documented it in photos in the run up to its closure in May 1977 - although it actually closed a few days earlier than planned due to the general rundown nature of the system! He also captured a few interesting scenes during modernisation, although he was to leave his job before the system reopened - was that 1980 as I recall?

Anyways, on with the pics, and the first lot are interiors....

image 29449
St Enoch - seems even the busier stations had only a single island platform then, with the stairs rising up and splitting into two

image 29450 can be seen in this elevated view from the same position

image 29451
Partick Cross Station - now, of course, Kelvin Hall. Being the last few months of service, very few ads are still on display. And for all the modernisation they did to the station itself in 1980, that little alley leading up to it is still dingy as hell!

image 29452
Merkland St Station - the only station not retained in the modernisation, it was instead moved further west and integrated with Partick railway station. Apparently the cavern of the old station still exists - can't say I've ever noticed it on my many underground trips, anyone else?

image 29453
The ticket office of Merkland Street station

image 29454

image 29455
Hillhead - decidedly less talent on view here than there usually is these days. Oops, did I just type that out loud?

image 29456
Copland Rd Station - now, of course, Ibrox. It looks to me from many of these photos that a lot of the stations were lit by natural light from above - if that's so, it's a shame they covered them all. Note the staff, who appear fairly cheery and less liable to strike at the drop of a hat than today's equivalent

image 29457
Cessnock Station - and again, natural light looks to be present in this long passageway - I'm sure from my last trip there that it's totally covered now

image 29458
Buchanan Street - looking both quieter and a lot smaller than the current one!

image 29459
Bridge Street

This article has been viewed 52469 times in the last 8 years

Second Road: 11th Nov 2008 - 19:04 GMT

Wow, what photos! I really know nothing about , but at least now I know a lot about their train-system! Er, or what their train-system used to be like :-D

greyeyedeve: 11th Nov 2008 - 19:11 GMT

thanks for the link - I have fond memories of the 'clockwork orange' and its really interesting to see what it like before it was modernised.

Plum Blossom: 11th Nov 2008 - 19:12 GMT

Even though the stations are grubby, there's a certain charm to the trains themselves.

Eleanor: 11th Nov 2008 - 19:41 GMT

These have a wonderful almost pre-war look to them, nice work.

Flying Colours: It's not changed any!

Ravennoir: 11th Nov 2008 - 21:33 GMT

ahhhhh clockwork orange:P

not enough decay for my liking but the pictures is nice:P

Felix Connie: 11th Nov 2008 - 21:39 GMT

see, the camera man is distracting them while the woman in the background steals that little kid

tiny pink stars: 11th Nov 2008 - 21:49 GMT

Wonderful... I love the feeling of seeing familiar places looking so different.

Puffpastry: 11th Nov 2008 - 21:50 GMT

These are really cool! The red of the trains sort of impacts the whole tunnel...makes it gritty-warm instead of gritty-cold. Very neat.

Rebecca: Wow, it's changed so much! Amazing.

Peter: 12th Nov 2008 - 00:20 GMT

WOW. entries like this tend to be some of my very favorite on this site... good work!

after reading , i see that this modernization took place from 1977-1980, so that helped put a date on these photos, which i was curious about.

that wiki link is a pretty good read, actually... helps put the imagery in this post into good perspective.

once again, well done! i think i can speak for us all when i say wed love to see more!

Avioris: 12th Nov 2008 - 14:16 GMT

Wonderful that you posted these. Such, almost documentary, pictures are hard to come by and are pretty interesting

Ender: 20th Nov 2008 - 14:26 GMT

This is simply marvelous. Thank you for sharing these photos. Contrary to what someone said above, the Clockwork Orange doesn't look much like this anymore, though I can just barely recall riding it in this state as a child. Anyway, a nice glimpse from the past. Thank you again!

M . F. G - Alness: 29th Nov 2008 - 17:03 GMT

I travelled this wonderful subway system, which is over 100 years old now, every day to school, from the age of 5 from the south of the city to the west. I loved it and my favourite part was the smell. I think it may have been the creosote in the tunnels, if I'm right, and it was the only perfume I used to want to wear when I grew up.Not that I ever did.

Varinki: 14th Dec 2008 - 04:46 GMT

The Glasgow Subway was opened in 1896 and the equipment dated from that time. It was cable operated until 1935 when it was converted to electricity. Also there were no turnouts on the line and a crane was used to move the equipment on and off the network. Oh and those small rails on the wall in the first photo power the lights on the train.

maureen robertson: 9th Jan 2009 - 04:34 GMT

40 years ago as a 15yr old my friend and I used to jump on the subway at Merkland street and cross the river to Govan to go to the pictures. We weren't allowed to, Govan being a foreign country and considered far too rough. The beauty of it was the subway was so fast and direct that there was no chance of getting caught. We'd come back to Merkland Street and get big bags of chips at the Merkland St chippie. What memories. I'll never forget the subway smell or the rattly old coaches with dim lighting. I live in Australia now but I sometimes still dream about the subway and running down the stairs when we heard the subway rumbling in the tunnels. I also well remember sitting in the Indian Restaurant under the Central Bridge or Govan pictures and feeling the vibration from the subway underneath

dubdoc: 9th Jan 2009 - 12:58 GMT

Is there any available information in the book these images came from regarding the photography? I'm just curious as to how wide the lens was that some of these were taken with. There is some interesting distortion in some of the shots, but they don't quite look fisheye. Anywho, just curious if this information might be around somewhere.

Nicholas: 12th Feb 2009 - 00:53 GMT

Wow, amazing pictures. Thanks a lot. I've never noticed the Merkland Chamber before. I think i'll head that way soon and go back and forth until i can see/hear it. Quite a spooky thought that its still there, Completely deserted.

Myke: 12th Feb 2009 - 12:49 GMT

It's been a while since I visited Citynoise and I'm glad I happened to catch this posting. I'm only in my 20s so my first experience on the clockwork orange was in the '90s. Very interesting photos, thank you for sharing them with us!

AshleyAutherley: 12th Feb 2009 - 13:36 GMT

I think the first picture looks very scary. The stop looks like its very dark before the train comes, I think the trains lights it up. Also those trains have only two carts which I think is kind of weird because our train in New York have more and larger carts then that. Also i think the carts are very short of small because people would have to duck in oder to enter the train.

Serhio: 17th Feb 2009 - 14:44 GMT

Terrible photos! It looks like dark dull vault. Moscow metro is the best and most beautiful in the world. Moscow metro stations are palaces in comparison with this awful basement.

Richard: 5th Mar 2009 - 20:34 GMT

Just back from my first visit to Glasgow, and I took a few trips on the 'Clockwork Orange' while I was there. The trains are great, like shrunken versions of London tubes (and built by the same company). Would have loved to have travelled on it in the last days before modernisation - am I right in thinking the trains were about 80 years old by then? There's still a bit of a smell which reminds me of London Undergrounds 'drain' (Waterloo & City line). Great pics!

robbie: 24th Mar 2009 - 22:04 GMT

moved away from govan a long time ago butthe photo,s brought back the feeling and the great smell of the subway

Alison: 3rd Apr 2009 - 10:13 GMT

Wow, these photos are beautiful.

I live just opposite Cessnock station and I take the tube almost every day. I suspect the photo of the long passageway at Cessnock is a different entrance to the one currently used. The current entrance/exit is situated under a tenement block, so was presumably always covered over; however, at the far end of the platform there is a mysterious doorway which is sometimes open. I think it leads up to that passageway. I'm always tempted to explore, but I'm slightly too chicken...

Eric: 14th Apr 2009 - 11:34 GMT

ITS FAST,and brill way to get around any city beats trams,Glasgow is sitting on a goldmine of disused tunnels and rail lines that could be expanded onto,cities would die for that,

Peter: 14th Apr 2009 - 13:03 GMT

disused rail lines, you say? anyone got any photos of that sort of thing?

Josie Harken "Canada": 9th Jun 2009 - 01:52 GMT

Great photos. Used to love standing at the entrance of a subway station just to get a whiff of that wonderful smell. Does anyone have any photos of old station toilets? Remember the beautiful one at the Central Station? No, I'm not weird, the architecture in those places were magnificent. It's only after your gone from your hometown that you appreciate this sort of stuff. No, not toilets, any architecture.

john brannan: 21st Jun 2009 - 11:16 GMT

i used to dog school all day on those old underground trains. used to walk from possilpark to cowcaddens to get on it then ride it till nearly home time. the they closed it for few years. when it did re open it just was not the same, the noise and smells were all gone. the old photos bring back memories thanks for that as i now stay in north wale and miss glasgow a bit.

Alexis: 28th Jun 2009 - 21:34 GMT

I've been hunting for photos of the old Glasgow Subway on the net for ages ! I'm 40 yrs old , and my Mum used to take me on the Subway, before it closed in the early 70's. I cant really remember what it looked like, all I remember is it being darker & my Mum dragging me on to the platforms crying & screaming because the extremely loud noise of the old trains approaching terrified me and standing in the small island platforms, I used to think I'd get pushed onto the track! I still use the subway often , but,now I stand at the bottom of the stairs , until the train has stopped ! My Mum knows I blame her for the great fear I have to this day of using the Glasgow Subway ! Great photos , loved them !

Jen: 2nd Jul 2009 - 17:30 GMT

The remains of the Merkland station are a blink and you miss it event but on rare occasions you can catch a glimpse of the frame work of the old platform. I found this picture of what it looks like these days on flickr -

I have to say I'd quite like it if Cessnock got it's natural light back!
It's wonderful to see how it was, thanks for sharing these pictures!

Cathie: 13th Jul 2009 - 19:19 GMT

Can someone tell me if the entrance to Bridge Street underground as moved over the years. I'm convinced that when I got off at Bridge St from school, I had a short walk down the road to where I lived in Eglinton Street. I was in Glasgow recently and the entrance seems to be situated on a corner now. Is my memory playing tricks on me? I'm convinced it isn't...can someone solve the mystery.

brian: 28th Aug 2009 - 11:47 GMT

With regards Merkland st station chamber, it is in fact still there. Heading towards Govan the chamber is just visible from the inner circle platform about 50 metres in. it is easier to see when the tunnel lighting is on (not a usual occurance during the day) The chamber itself is now just a big empty cavern, The original fittings are now in the Transport Museum. I work for the Subway and when I walk through the chamber it brings back memories of my last journey just before modernisation as Merkland St was the final stop. To Cathie, Bridge st station is still in the same place although the front door has moved. Bridge St also now has a electricity sub station which probably throwing you a wee bit.

Calum: 27th Sep 2009 - 23:14 GMT

I used to live acrosS the road from cessnock too. And shut up russian person nae wan asked for your opinion.

Radar: 15th Oct 2009 - 22:55 GMT

As Jen has posted the Merkland Street station chamber is still present. A group called Hidden Glasgow had the chance to go down and see the remains of the old Merkland Street station and walk the tunnels 2 or 3 years ago. The link to the photo in Jen's post allows you to see some of the other pics that Dazzababes took that day.

Andy : 31st Dec 2009 - 00:50 GMT

Love the pix, used to use this every day from Cowcaddens, I even remember the older brown and cream livery... shows his age.... Thank you very much for posting these.

robbie: 22nd Jan 2010 - 14:48 GMT

the pic`s are brilliant,i remember the atmosphere in the old underground,always made me relaxed,always an adventure to go down there in the dark,a different world all on it`s own,i used merkland street to join my ship at merklands quay in the early 70`s,nice memories.

robbie: 23rd Jan 2010 - 11:33 GMT

i remember in the old carriages the seats were leather,red?,and the clear light bulbs were polished spotless.

Primitive Person: 21st Feb 2010 - 22:18 GMT

Wow...amazing. The system really had deteriorated badly by the seventies, but what incredible atmosphere - gorgeous photos. It's a shame so little of the original appearance of the stations was retained - all the seventies brown and orange looks a bit gruesome these days. Still, I'm glad the Subway has survived, and seems to be thriving.

Alan Macdonald : 19th Jul 2010 - 06:10 GMT

Great Site. When I was a boy we used to call the old system Noddy's Magic Roundabout given the tiny scale of the system and that adults generally had to bend down to get in.

jim young: 10th Oct 2010 - 01:28 GMT

I was "B"in Greenfield street .govan. Ithought Glasgow had the best public transport in the world this includes the Subway.Tramcars & Buses.Imoved to New Zealand in 1952,need I say,the transport system then was dreadful,much better now of course. I do miss the Subway of course.

George Watson: 4th Dec 2010 - 12:54 GMT

Thanks for the positive comments on these pictures (which are subject to my copyright). I am told that no other picture book quite captures so well the atmosphere of the old subway.
Look out for my book on Clydeside Scottish busco due to be published in the spring 2011.

donald kirkbride: 26th Jan 2011 - 17:15 GMT

my granny and granpa(mums mum and dad) lived in shields road near the paisley road and shields road subway was our nearest subway
my mum and me used to go up the town at least thats what she called it from shields road to st enoch used to love the smell that wafted up the stairs that came from the tunnels also remember the loud tick from the clock as we waited on the train arriving dont remember anyone having a conversation while waiting for the train though then you would hear the rumble from the tunnel and the train would arrive also remember two trains being there at the same time was this a regular happening or did it only happen ocassionally maybe someone who worked on the subway before the modernisation could explain how this happened
the walk back to my grannies house always seemed to be long especially if it was raining when we came out of shields road station
my granpa used to take me to partick to visit his nephew on the subway and used to point out the bit in the tunnel where the trains were lifted by train to the workshop for repair
also when i was older and used to go up the town by myself used to like going on the circle which took longer to get to st enoch cant remember which circle it would have been seem to recall the train on the right was the one that took you to st enoch with very few stops the outer perhaps?
perhaps someone can help me out here to refresh my memory

donald kirkbride: 26th Jan 2011 - 17:20 GMT

also interested in seeing a photo of shields road station exterior and interior do any of these photos exist? seem to recall there was a closed down petrol station beside the shields road station

donald kirkbride: 26th Jan 2011 - 19:04 GMT

just read john brannons comment that he used to dog school and ride the underground all day how did you manage to get away with sitting there all day without getting thrown off by the guard?

donald kirkbride: 26th Jan 2011 - 19:59 GMT

just noticed that in photo 10 buchanan street the train on the left is train number two and in photo11 the train on the right is also train number 2 is there any reason for this or is it because the trains were lifted from the tunnels every night perhaps?and therefore ended up on different circles
maybe someone who worked on the subway in those days can explain

donald kirkbride: 27th Jan 2011 - 12:45 GMT

i can vaguely remember the adverts in the subway the only one that sticks in my mind is the scottish daily express ad with a roman type figure holding a torch cant remember whether the ad was on one of the advert boards or whether it was on the train itself perhaps?
still curious about the crane that lifted the trains into the workshop and whether the trains were lifted off the tracks every night when the system closed also how many trains were running on each circle on the old system? and how long did a full run of all the stations take? i suppose in theory (on the old system) you could get on a train come off at your station and return within the time it takes the train to do a complete circuit and possibly get the same train home again?which depends on how many trains per circle were running my guess is perhaps three per circle?

jimmy drain kp punter: 31st Jan 2011 - 18:03 GMT

i remember one day back in the 60s my brother jumped down from the platform to get a french fag packet i was missing on my fag packet collection, wit a guy aff his heed.

J Hampton to Hugh Mac Phail: 1st Mar 2011 - 21:45 GMT

Hi hugh i played in the group with you many years gone by The (Fugitives) am I right.hope to hear from you, Jimmy Hampton.

alex: 13th Mar 2011 - 22:49 GMT

Bill, the plug was pulled on 11 Stanley place as some nutter started to write bile. I just found this site and hope that for the enjoyment of the folk on here it stays a looney free zone.

Paul Roberts: 3rd Apr 2011 - 08:42 GMT

THis is an absoloute gem this is pure history well done.
The images are from halcyon days gone forever.
Some of the photos remind me of the original Mersey railway in liverpool
the old style designs brillant !!! O:)

Joan: 27th Aug 2011 - 03:32 GMT

Happy to find your site. I spent a week in Glasgow in the spring of 1974 and was amazed at the subway system. Quaint beyond belief. I loved it.

Bill from Govan: 15th Nov 2011 - 21:45 GMT

I remember the first time they renovated Govan X station, it was back some time in the 50s and an alternative exit was built across the road from the main entrance and the front of the old entrance was tiled. It was a very exciting thing for an 8 year old. I have not been back to Govan Since 1985, when I passed through and could not bring myself to get of the bus. The subyway I loved, and why was it that the smell of the underground was the thing that I really remember, the swoosh the train made as it entered the station. The fairy tale castle of St. Enoch's station was a masterpiece of Glasgow decor.

Sally dorrian. Brady: Love your site.

Steve from Boston, Mass., USA: 6th Jul 2012 - 00:59 GMT

Thanks for posting the photos! I visited England and Scotland in 1985 and, because of my interest in public transport systems, made it a point to visit places I had read about such as Baker Street Station in London and the Subway in Glasgow. Since this was pre-Internet, I had only seen images of the Glasgow Subway in an Encyclopedia, so it was interesting to see the system in person (even if it was post-modernization) and also to ride the route!

My family was intrigued by the photographs I photocopied and brought with me. I remember seeing an original carriage on display in one of the stations but I cant recall which station. The current stations are much brighter and more pleasant now!

As an aside - I really liked Glasgow (and Edinbugh, the Highlands, Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, and all the other cities, towns and rural areas of Scotland I visited). Everyone was very friendly, but, unfortunately, I did not know it would be a bank holiday when I booked my trip so several sites in Glasgow were closed! And, no, I did not manage to see "Nessie"!

If you visit Boston, Boylston Street Station on the Green Line STILL retains its original design from 1897. I understand that the original lines in Budapest, Hungary and Buenos Airies, Argentina have also remained relatively untouched.

Bob Southgate: 20th Sep 2012 - 20:27 GMT

There is a new film out now filmed by Glasgow University in 1974. It has been released by Video 125 (

Jim Smith: 28th Sep 2012 - 16:19 GMT

Just found this site during research for story I'm writing about Glasgow in 68 - 70. Absolute magic. I got the subway from Partick to Goven every day for 3 years during my apprenticeship at Howdens. If Serhio from 2009 is still around I now live in what was an Eastern european a country that was under Russian rule for 50 years until they were kicked out. At least the houses in Glasgow above the underground in those days were livable in and the the people were free.

Chic McGowan: 12th Oct 2012 - 12:45 GMT

Maureen, you are a coupel of years older than me. We lived above Fraser's pub at Rissel St and Vine St. maybe I saw you duck under the ticket window???????

catherine oliver: 13th Oct 2012 - 09:04 GMT

loved your pics used the subway often, agree about the smell

catherine cherry : 13th Oct 2012 - 09:06 GMT

used my married name prior but maybe cherry will ring a bell from watt street hence use of the subway on a regular basis. once again great pics

George Watson: 9th Mar 2013 - 18:02 GMT

Look out for a second edition of my "Glasgow Subway Album". This includes a selection of photographs of the modernised system as well as a few new photos prior to and during modernisation. The book is due to be available around May 2013. See ....

stevie: 24th Apr 2013 - 16:02 GMT

took the subway to hillhead school in the 70s.loved it,& the smell...magic!!

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