The Glasgow Central Railway Collection
A collection of 56 photographs showing the construction of the Glasgow Central Railway in the 1890s.
About the Glasgow Central Railway
Built to link the east and west ends of the city, the construction of the Glasgow Central Railway (GCR) was one of the most ambitious and expensive railway engineering projects undertaken in the city. Construction began in 1890, took six years to complete and was rarely straightforward. Busy streets with tramlines had to be excavated with as little disruption as possible. Buildings had to be underpinned and sewers diverted. Many of photographs in the collection show tunnel construction and workers digging up Argyle Street.
The line ran from Dalmarnock in the east to Maryhill and Dawsholm in the north west. It was originally planned as an elevated railway through the centre of the city (similar to The Loop in Chicago), but a public outcry led to a rethink. Parliamentary approval for the work was granted in 1888 but construction had still not begun by the time the GCR was absorbed into the Caledonian Railway in 1890. Construction began later that year, took six years to complete and was rarely straightforward. Busy streets with tramlines had to be excavated with as little disruption as possible, buildings had to be underpinned and sewers diverted.
Despite the sometimes-foul atmosphere underground, the line was an immediate success and remained a fast and convenient route from the suburbs to the city for the next 60 years. In wintertime, the underground smog was so thick that platform edges were difficult to see and, on a few occasions, passengers fell down on to the ballast.
The line was closed on 5 October 1964, as part of the restructuring of the railway network put forward in the Beeching Report. However, 15 years later the middle section had a new lease of life as the Argyle Line. In 2014, a brand new Dalmarnock Station was opened in the east end of the city to serve Commonwealth Games venues.
About the collection
The collection consists of 56 photographs recording the construction of the Glasgow Central Railway. The photographs were sent from British Rail to the Departmental Librarian in the Science and Technology Department at The Mitchell Library in 1987. They mostly show construction work although there are a few images of station interiors and exteriors.
Included is a transcript of an informative article from The Glasgow Herald, 30 October 1895 giving details about the construction and the problems encountered during that time.
An article on the Glasgow Central Railway from W.A.C. Smith & Paul Anderson, An Illustrated History of Glasgow’s Railways (1993) is also included.
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