Scottish Flashback: Glasgow Subway electrification

Glasgow Subway workers prepare a train for electrificiation in 1935. Picture: TSPL
Glasgow Subway workers prepare a train for electrificiation in 1935. Picture: TSPL
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OPENED on 14 December 1896, the Glasgow Subway is the third-oldest underground railway in the world, behind the London Underground and the Budapest Metro.

Starting life as a cable railway, the Subway was later electrified in the 1930s, with the existing carriages being adapted for electric traction.

In 1935, the carriages were revamped to be able to run on the new system - one of the original carriages pre-electrification can be seen at the Buchanan Street subway station, and another is preserved in the city’s Riverside Museum.

All the carriages were built with lattice gates, not doors at the ends, with some retaining the gates until as late as 1977.

Although dubbed the Clockwork Orange due to the orange livery, the Glasgow Subway started life in a plum and cream livery, being painted red and white at the time of electrification, before being painted all red a la London buses in the 1950s.

Preparing the carriages for electrification was done by hand, as our picture from the time shows.