Scottish Life Magazine masthead
scotish life magazine special subscription offer
glasgow central rail secrets

A Railway Station's Secrets

A tour of the corridors and forgotten subterranean vaults of Glasgow
Central Station peels back the years and reveals stories both tragic
and epic.


It is 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon and Glasgow Central Station is thrumming with people. The build up to rush hour has begun. The first wave of commuters and school pupils in the different coloured hues of the city's most exclusive schools are passing across the vast concourse, under the suspended clock and then down to the lower level trains that will soon carry them home. A mobility buggy with an orange flashing light passes by with an elderly couple perched contentedly in the back, their luggage wedged beside them. The upright piano that sits out every day, with an open invitation for anyone who knows a tune to sit down and play for the delight of the passing public, has found a willing and enthusiastic player, who begins by picking out "Chopsticks" before moving on to a more complicated, and edifying, piece of music.

In an hour's time that vast concourse will be packed with people as the rush hour hits its peak, but for now there is still plenty of time, and room, to take in the visual splendour of one of the nation's most unusual, but increasingly popular, tourist attractions.

In the past, the only people who would contentedly spend a day, or even a few hours, at Glasgow Central Station without actually boarding a train and departing were the small, but dedicated, band of train spotters who arrive with their cameras, notebooks and a keen eye for any locomotives they had yet to see. But today the vast eco-system of Glasgow Central Station is populated by thousands of people who come to shop, eat, drink, people-watch and even spend the night in, curiously, what is one of the most luxurious settings in the city. For Glasgow's Central Station is more than merely a point where journeys end and begin. It is a rather wonderful destination in and of itself, a receptacle of over 140 years of history.

The full text of this article is available in the Autumn 2019 issue of Scottish Life.

Click here to preview our feature article on The Year Of Coasts And Waters by Jim Gilchrist.

Click here to preview our feature article on Arran, Holiday Of A Lifetime by Stephen McGinty.

Click here to preview our column on Scotch whisky by John Lamond.

Photo © Iain Masterton/Scottish Viewpoint