Spectacular views from top of Glasgow Central Station in prospect as roof tours considered

Visitors could be offered spectacular views from one of the largest glass roofs in Europe under plans being devised for public tours of the top of Scotland’s busiest station.

They would provide an opportunity afforded to only a few dozen people so far – a bird’s eye perspective across the city from Glasgow Central’s 48,000-pane roof.

New health and safety assessments are planned to assess whether small groups could be permitted on the roof’s walkways.

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The move comes as organisers of tours of the station’s subterranean passageways and derelict platforms hope they can resume soon to clear a backlog of 2,500 bookings because of Covid restrictions.

The view from the roof of Glasgow Central Station's "throat" stretching across the Clyde. Picture: John Devlin

The longitudinal ridge and furrow roof covers 6.5 acres – three-and-a-half times the size of Hampden Stadium.

It is in two parts – the eastern half over the original 1879 station and a western 1906 extension, which extends nearly as far south as the Clyde.

An £80 million station restoration project that included replacing panes still darkened by wartime blackout paint was completed in 1999.

It won nine awards, including an EU Europa Nostra cultural heritage prize, which praised aspects such as “important protection measures to the roof” [from rain], which were “executed with sensitivity and meticulous attention to detail”.

A walkway that could become part of a Glasgow Central Station roof tour. Picture: John Devlin

Glasgow Central tour guide and historian Paul Lyons said: "The roof affords absolutely incredible views, not only of the magnificent structure itself, but also the wonderful vista of Glasgow.

"I have been asked over the years by many people on the station tours if they could get access up here, so there is huge demand.

"Hopefully, in the coming months we will be able to get the public up here to experience it.

"Safety requirements will have to be met and tours are likely to involve small groups of around five.

Paul Lyons on a Glasgow Central roof walkway with the view towards the former Glasgow College of Building and Printing building near George Square. Picture: John Devlin

"I’m hoping that within the next couple of months we can get a mechanism in place.

"However, the priority is to clear the backlog of bookings for the station tours.

"People love the chance to go to places they are normally not allowed, and the station tours have attracted 100,000 people so far.”

Mr Lyons said those tours would not resume until the end of next month at the earliest and were dependent on further relaxation of Covid restrictions.

Glasgow Central Station tour guide and historian Paul Lyons above the station's southern portal. Picture: John Devlin

The roof was included in only a few past station tours.

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A tour of the roof offered exclusively to The Scotsman demonstrated its breath-taking scale, the huge glass and steel structure of the western extension that juts out towards the river reminiscent of the side of a cruise liner.

From atop the sandstone portal at the station’s southern end, the view extends from multiple tracks snaking through the station’s “throat”, across the south side of the city and as far as wind farms dotting surrounding hills.

Turn around, and the top of the station hotel, beyond the roof at the north end of the concourse, seems extraordinarily distant, the equivalent of several city blocks away.

Meanwhile, despite being 80ft below, the vibration of moving trains can still be felt through the walkways’ metal latticework.

Looking down the Clyde from Glasgow Central Station roof. Picture: John Devlin

Mr Lyons predicted the station and its vast roof, criticised in the past for being “over-engineered”, would outlast many other city centre buildings, including some under construction.

He said: “This place is the forever constant in the changing city.”

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