1st August 1879

Glasgow Central Station receives its first trains

Central Station was Glasgow’s second mainline railway terminus. The first, the smaller Glasgow Queen Street, went into operation in 1842 and was significantly extended in 1886. Where Queen Street Station was operated by the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, and later North British Railway, Central Station was operated by Caledonian Railway. It is Scotland’s busiest railway station.

Glasgow Central Station opening

The first services into and out of Central Station ran on 1 August 1879 – one day after its opening. The Greenock Advertiser of that date notes that “the Glasgow Central Station of the Caledonian Railway Company was formally opened yesterday by the directors and about one hundred and fifty gentlemen proceeding in a train from Bridge Street to the terminus in Gordon Street. It was stated at the luncheon that the cost of the station will be between £600,000 and £700,000. The station will be open for public traffic to-day.”

Before the opening of Central Station, the Caledonian Railway’s services ran from Bridge Street Station to Bothwell, Hamilton, Strathearn, Lesmanhagow, Paisley, Greenock and Motherwell. Those services all moved to Central Station, even though the ticket office wasn’t yet ready.

“Some time will necessarily elapse before the magnificent pile of buildings in course of erection in Gordon Street can be completed,” wrote the Glasgow Herald on 1 August, “and in the meantime, therefore, what may be called subsidiary booking offices will be opened for the convenience of the travelling public at entrances in Argyll Street, Hope Street and Union Street.”

Glasgow Central Station construction

Building the station wasn’t a simple matter of constructing the buildings and laying the track: a considerable amount of land had to be cleared and existing buildings knocked down.

The Glasgow Herald report includes details of the speeches given at the opening ceremony, during which the contractor, Mr Watt, explained that “immediately after clearing away a large brick building, which was used by the Glasgow Corporation Gas Company as a meter-testing work, in digging for a foundation for the station shed wall, we came on the bottom parts of two large gasometers which went down a considerable depth and had been filled up, as it seemed, with all the rubbish in the world. After getting the tanks cleared of this rubbish, our difficulties began [since] we at first thought there was nothing to do but smash them up with hammers, but the largest piece we could break off at a time was no bigger than a man’s hand, and the tanks being made of the very best cold blast iron.”

Nonetheless, construction was completed in two years, to the general appreciation of all in attendance.



Other events that occured in August

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