We like our Underground. From down below it tells you a lot about what is happening up above. South of the Clyde it is largely deserted. Traffic between St Enoch’s and Hillhead is busier with students and shoppers. Some people only like travelling clockwise or anti-clockwise. It is a subway with a heart.
(Glasgow from the Eye in the Sky Douglas Corrance and Ian Archer Mainstream Publishing 1988)
In a recent post I’ve told you how impressed we had been on seeing the Royal Scotsman, a sumptuous first class train, emerging with an Orient-Express style from the Scottish wilderness and stopping in front of us at Rannoch Station. Today, I’m going to tell you about the “Clockwork Orange”, Glasgow Subway. Most of the Glaswegians using it daily will probably never get aboard the Royal Scostman but they are very proud and fond of their subway. Once called Glasgow Underground it got its nickname because of its circular line and the orange colour of the older trains. The one we got on, one summer day in 2007, had bright cream, blue and orange colours and looked like a big toy ready to brave darkness. It was as inviting as Glasgow colourful taxis. Maybe we would not be so enthusiastic if we had to take it everyday to go to work! Anyway, as we watched it loading and unloading its lot of passengers we felt like getting aboard, and we finally did, a whole circular tour, beginning and ending at St Enoch Station…
Its main virtue is that as an underground it is a carousel. It starts where it finishes and even if you don’t get dizzy making the full circle, there are certainly bits of it you never noticed. (Glasgow from the Eye in the Sky Douglas Corrance and Ian Archer Mainstream Publishing 1988)
St Enoch… Buchanan Street… Cowcaddens… St George’s Cross… Kelvinbridge… Hillhead…Kelvinhall… Partick… Govan… Ibrox… Cessnock… Kinning Park…Shields Road…West Street… Bridge Street…and back to St Enoch… like in a song the names come and go, most of them quite unknown to us but each one meaning something for one or other passenger who stops there… it did not take 25 minutes to complete our anti-clockwise tour along the 15 stations of the Clockwork Orange which runs along a circular line and, according to your destination, goes clockwise or anti-clockwise. Directions are indicated as “Outer Circle” (clockwise) and “Inner Circle” (anti-clockwise).
There is heavy traffic up there in the streets, especially during the rush hour, so if you want to get around the city fast don’t hesitate to take the subway! Cheap and simple this is a very efficient means of transport which offers a lot of opportunities to the visitor such as the Mackintosh Trail Ticket, the Discovery Ticket or the Daytripper Ticket.
Before it was done up in 1980, the tiny trains were of thing of some splendour, the carriages made of teak and wonderfully varnished, the seats of pure leather. It was by then a museum piece which it is again today as a whole station stands as part of the display at the city’s transport museum in the Kelvin Hall (Glasgow from the Eye in the Sky Douglas Corrance and Ian Archer Mainstream Publishing 1988)
Let us dream about the good olden times…
The very interesting Museum of Transport, which we visited in 2000, in the Kelvin Hall, before it moved on the banks of the River Clyde can help us to imagine how it was then…
The Glasgow Underground, as it was called before 2003, was inaugurated in 1896 and it is the world’s third oldest underground railway after London and Budapest (the underground metro in Paris only opened in 1900), which testifies to Scottish inventiveness and industrial engineering. It had begun as a cable-hauled system operated by steam engines and was electrified in 1935 before being modernized at the end of the 1970s and finally inaugurated by the Queen on November 1st 1979.
Glasgow subway is actually exploited by the Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT), as it can be read on the tickets.
When we emerged from the subway station we found ourselves back again in the open air, amidst the cheerful crowd wandering about St. Enoch Square. The square is situated at the bottom end of Buchanan Street, the city’s busiest shopping street. A small and very picturesque red sandstone building with beautiful gables, ornamented with a clock, carved balconies and ogee-roofed circular turrets, stands in the middle of the square next to the huge modern-style glass building of St Enoch Centre.
Though the French and Scotland buildings are very different in essence I like the comparison which has been made by Jonathan Smith, on SCRAN, between Azay-le-Rideau and the Travel Centre . “Built in Jacobean style and somewhat reminiscent of Azay-le-Rideau.” Both Azay le Rideau and John Miller’s building are quite deligthful, displaying a lot of beautiful architectural details which alas can’t be seen on our photo (right). Jonathan Smith very interestingly adds “The diminutive scale of the building was chosen so that it did not impose on the classical church that stood behind until its demolition in 1925”. We’ve learned since that before becoming the Travel Centre this nice jacobean-style building had been the entrance to the subway station and that it contained on its ground-floor a ticket office, a bookstall and stairs leading to the platforms below. How amazing !
Before going on to Buchanan street, we stayed a long moment in the square, happy to be there and desperately trying to catch a few words of Glasgow’s Scottish dialect.
I’ve just downloaded and printed the very interesting STP brochure and I’m musing over it, thinking things over and anticipating our next visit to Glasgow… As we do love this great city at least as much as Edinburgh we are eager to introduce “Scotiana’s Top Ten in Glasgow” as a counterpart to “Scotiana’s Top Ten in Edinburgh”. It is not easy task for us to choose and classify. Remember, we’re passionate but… only passing travellers;-). But we’ll try to introduce “à notre façon” each of our favourite places in the following posts. There are so many things to see in Glasgow. It’s a fascinating town…
SCOTIANA’S TOP TEN IN GLASGOW
01 – Mackintosh Trail (Glasgow School of Art – Willow Tearooms – House for an Art Lover –
Mackintosh House, Queen’s Cross Church…to be continued on our next trip;-) )
02 – Glasgow Cathedral Precinct (Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis – Provand’s Lordship – St Mungo’s Museum)
03 – People’s Palace-Glasgow Green – Doulton Fountain-Templeton
04 – University of Glasgow
05 – Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
06 – George Square – Buchanan Street – City centre – Central Station – The Clockwork Orange
07 – Mitchell Library
08 – Clydeside
09 – The Barras
10 – Museum of Transport
And to end this post here’s the image of the day…
Maybe Janice could tell you more about the spirit of the place…
Let’s drive on… A bientôt Mairiuna