Tug-of-love over historic station clock that featured in Gregory’s Girl

The St Enoch Station clock in Cumbernauld, where John Gordon Sinclair hoped to meet Dee Hepburn in Gregory's Girl. Picture: contributed
The St Enoch Station clock in Cumbernauld, where John Gordon Sinclair hoped to meet Dee Hepburn in Gregory's Girl. Picture: contributed
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It is the historic station clock where Gregory arranged to meet his “Girl” in the classic coming-of-age comedy.

Now the timepiece from a long-closed Glasgow station could provide a new rendezvous point for friends and lovers as part of the £120 million redevelopment of the city’s Queen Street terminus.

We have asked if we could get it, which would be a nod back to the past. It would be fantastic

TOMMY McPAKE Network Rail

Network Rail wants the clock returned to Glasgow to become a new focal point for the station, whose expansion is due to be completed in a year’s time.

However, Cumbernauld, which was gifted the former St Enoch Station clock 42 years ago, is unwilling to let it go back home.

The new town received the clock as a 21st birthday present from Glasgow businessman Raymond Gillies, who had bought it after the station closed in 1966.

It was moved to a Cumbernauld shopping centre and featured in Bill Forsyth’s 1981 film Gregory’s Girl.

The clock was later shifted to a closed-off section of the complex, now the Antonine Centre, which will be re-opened to the public next week.

Network Rail programme manager Tommy McPake said: “We have asked if we could get it, which would be a nod back to the past.

“It would be great to get it here, it would be fantastic.”

Glasgow North East Labour MP Paul Sweeney, who previously proposed the move, was delighted it was being taken up.

He said: “This would be an ideal location for what is an iconic part of Glasgow’s lost railway heritage and would also make for a fine centrepiece of the renewed station concourse.

“Although a classic Victorian train shed, Queen Street never had a proper station clock like at London St Pancras, Liverpool Lime Street, Glasgow Central or the former S. Enoch Station, which was one of the worst architectural losses in Glasgow’s history when it was demolished in the 1970s.

“Residents of Cumbernauld who also hold the clock in affection since it was gifted to the new town, especially from its cameo in Gregory’s Girl, will still be able to enjoy it when they arrive direct into Queen Street, and it will be in a much more prominent location than it is currently the Antonine Centre.”

However, the clock’s current owners said they were determined to keep it in Cumbernauld.

Allan Graham, chair of Campsies Centre (Cumbernauld) Ltd, which is owned by North Lanarkshire Council, said: “The clock is an important artefact in the town’s history and local residents are keen to see it on public display. The Campsies Board is committed to finding a permanent home for the clock and is actively working with North Lanarkshire Council to identify suitable sites within the town.

“However, the requirements of a site are challenging because of the condition and size of the clock.”

Network Rail said the clock could be the centrepiece of the station’s new glass-sided concourse.

The front of the station is being extended to accommodate longer platforms for new eight-carriage ScotRail electric trains to cope with expected passenger growth.

Numbers using the station are forecast to grow by 40 per cent to 28 million by 2030.

The platforms should be complete in November in time for longer and faster services starting the following month.

They will cover the whole of the current concourse, with a new L-shaped frontage being built out to the edge of George Square following the demolition of an office block and the Millennium Hotel extension.

The glass-sided arched roof of the grade A-listed station will be retained within the building, which dates from 1880 and replaced the original 1842 terminus.

Mr McPake said: “The finished product will be transformational. It has been tucked behind a 1970s building that blocked the light from coming in. That did not entice anyone into the station.”

ScotRail, which manages the station, was unable to say which shops and catering it would feature or when they would open – three years after the units closed.

A spokesman said: “No details can be shared on retail at the moment. All is still to be finalised.”

One hundred people will get a behind-the-scenes tour of the site next week as part of the UK-wide Open Doors initiative to encourage more people to consider careers in the construction industry.