Scottish fact of the day: Botanic Gardens station

WHAT makes the deserted and historic train station so fascinating is that its remains lie beneath one of Glasgow’s most popular tourist attractions.

Remains of the Botanic Gardens railway station, Glasgow. Picture: Creative Commons
Remains of the Botanic Gardens railway station, Glasgow. Picture: Creative Commons

Thousands of visitors flock in and out of the Botanic Gardens every year and yet very few know of the subterranean link to the city’s past lying literally below their feet.

History

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The station was first opened in 1896 as part of Glasgow’s Central Railway line. The station building sat above ground but the platform and tracks were situated underneath. It didn’t enjoy a long and healthy history acting as a vital transport link for the city, being closed just over 20 years after its opening due to the outbreak of the Great War, and then once again finding its doors closed in February 1939. Instead of re-opening after World War II it was decided instead to merely lock the gates and leave the platforms to succumb to the ravages of time.

Remains of the Botanic Gardens railway station, Glasgow. Picture: Creative Commons

The station and the tracks

Since the station sat above ground developers were encouraged to transform the building for a difference use. In the years following the station’s closure it became a cafe and a nightclub, even though the tracks continued to have trains travelling through them as part of the Glasgow Central Railway. However, Glasgow city council decided to lift those tracks in 1964 and the former station building quickly followed six years later after a fire caused extensive damage to the roof. Since most of the structure was still in place it could have been redeveloped once more, but this time the preferred option was to tear it down, though the platforms remained.

Nightclub plans

Glasgow City Council entertained ideas to turn the hidden platforms into a nightclub. Aside from concerning those with an interest in the hidden spot, the plans outraged those with a fondness for the Botanics who, understandably, did not want an area associated with peace and tranquillity to be regular frequented by loud music and intoxicated hedonists. Over 4,000 signatures were attracted to a petition against the proposals and the council finally saw sense in the end. It’s not like Glasgow’s west end is short of night spots.

The Gravy Star

Hamish MacDonald’s novel The Gravy Star is the tale of a man who returns from a Hogmanay drinking session to find his wife and child frozen to death in the family’s remote cottage. Stricken with grief he travels to Glasgow and begins a new life as a recluse hiding away from the world in the confines of the deserted station below the Botanics.

Access denied

Those with a perchance for discovering hidden areas around Glasgow have reported within the last couple of years that the oft-open fence at the Kelvindale side has been replaced with a 12 foot high painted metal sheet which extends around the tunnel, blocking the entrance. The same goes for the entrance at the Kelvinbridge side, making it almost impossible for anyone passing by to enter on a whim. This has obviously been done for safety reasons but is quite a downer for those who wish to take in the station’s haunted look.

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