Happy birthday Glasgow Central: behind the scenes

Scotland’s busiest railway station opened on this day 143 years ago!

It’s one of our most striking railway buildings and has starred in the BBC documentary Inside Central Station, which followed station staff as they moved about 30 million passengers a year.

Many visitors come to the grade A listed Glasgow Central specially to take the increasingly popular behind the scenes tour.

The storytelling weaves in and around major historical events in Scotland and beyond, as visitors explore the tunnels beneath Glasgow’s streets.

The Caledonian Railway opened Glasgow Central on 1 August 1879 on the north bank of the River Clyde.

A railway bridge over Argyle Street to Bridge Street station on the south bank of the river linked eight platforms. The station quickly became congested and in 1890, the railway expanded the bridge over Argyle Street and built an extra station platform.

In 1901, at the very end of the Victorian railway revolution, the station was extended further.

Join the station tour and find out about Glasgow Central’s incredible Victorian architecture.

Glasgow Central Tours says: “The architecture and engineering of Anderson, Matheson and Miller make Glasgow Central Station not only an inspiring spectacle of stunning craftsmanship but also a transportation hub of great beauty.

“Why does the concourse have a gradient? Why are the main gates green and gold in colour? And Why are there no supporting pillars to hold up the station roof on a near 4000sq metre concourse?”

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The vaults beneath the station are some of the most fascinating areas on the tour. Just like at London St Pancras, which stored beer barrels between cast iron pillars, Glasgow Central stored goods underground. Glasgow Central Tours describes the vaults as “built as store houses for a city at the peak of its power as the technological and industrial beating heart of a long-ago empire.”

Also beneath the modern station is an original Victorian platform. Such platforms served suburban lines that ran from west Glasgow into the city and to the east.

Glasgow Central Tours has a viewing point to give visitors a glimpse from a unique vantage point:

“You can almost smell the smoke and steam of the engines as they travelled through the darkness beneath the city’s streets.”