Sunday 18 September 2016

Murrays Timetable

53 Years Ago!
This was an age when mini railway "timetables" were produced locally. They consisted, usually, of lists of departures in very small print with lots of notes to explain where to change etc. They were not easy to understand!
This "Murrays" was for Glasgow and offered times for most destinations in Scotland and a few of the larger English towns and cities. 
This edition cost 8d (3½p) which inflates to about 64p today.

But it is the advertisements that are most fascinating
G & J Burns and Laird Line had both been operating under the ownership of Coast Lines since 1919. During over a century of independent existence before that, however, the firms had been pioneers of passenger and trade routes between Scotland and Ireland. A merger followed in 1922 and the Laird Line funnel of red, white and black was adopted by all of the ships of the fleet.
The Glasgow to Belfast route which is advertised on this poster was served by the sister ships Royal Ulsterman ...
... and Royal Scotsman from 1936 until 1967.

The Glasgow services ended in 1967 and company eventually became B & I lines which in turn became part of the Irish Continental Group ion 1992. In 1963 the boats left from the Broomielaw bang in the centre of Glasgow.
Thew bridge in the distance carried trains into Glasgow Central station.

This advert is particularly interesting.
Sloans were also part of the Coast Lines consortium, but specialised in coastal freight. This quote appears in a web forum:-
My father was a captain with William Sloan for many years. The company ran a coastal liner route as such, based in Glasgow. Normal trips were Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea and Belfast before returning to Glasgow. I remember a part of the trade was tobacco from and to Glasgow which would sometimes include a stop in Dublin.
The ships for many years were steam ships built in Troon by Ailsa Shipyard and were all built to the same style, midship engined general cargo. Colours were Black hull with brown upperworks and funnel was black with single white band, quite a broad band at that. 

The trade ceased in 1965. So the little timetable book was published as shipping from the centre of Glasgow was in terminal decline.

But there were still prestigious named expresses from Glasgow to London.
Note that the journey time on these "crack expresses" was over seven hours. Today Virgin West Coast takes about four and a half.

A shorter trip might be by train and ferry to Dunoon, possible for just a weekend.
Something of the popularity of this town on the Cowal Peninsula is indicated by the collection of adverts for hotels etc. that surround the list of departures. The Argyll remains!

The Scottish Bus Group is beginning to make its mark with co-ordinated services to London but with the Glasgow departures still firmly branded "Western S M T"
.Note the direct comparison between coach return fare at £5 and train at £6 14s (£6.70).

fbb could continue with snippets from this little gem for much longer; but it's nearly Saturday bed time. But here's a few more:-

Most rail services are simple departure lists but one or two (as here with the Cathcart Circle) are shown as full timetables.
The present full circle is hourly.

Another full but complicated table is for the Glasgow and Clyde Coast Ferries.
None of these were car ferries, of course; even in 1963.

One advert had a tenuous link with Mrs fbb.
Her deceased father used to dine at the Rogano and, amazingly, it is still there on Exchange Place ...
 ... almost unchanged outside and in!

One final bit if social history. We all know American Express from their cartoon-style adverts.
But back in 1963, before credit cards had begun to proliferate, the company was very different.
But then it all was 53 years ago! fbb was leaving Northampton Grammar School and about to arrive at Sheffield University. Quite a lot has happened since then.

 Next bus blog : Monday 19th September 


  1. The Burns & Laird Lines colour advert (leaflet?) looks so much more up to date than the entries in Murrays Guide. I note the use of the term 'Inter City'. Did this pre-date the use of the term by British Rail(ways), or were they copying the idea?

  2. What's even more remarkable about the Cathcart Circle timetable is that the service shown is faster than the current one (which is 29 mins in one direction and 30 in the other).
    And that's despite two extra stops (Eglinton Street in each direction) and the alleged superior acceleration of electric trains over their steam counterparts.
    Reasons for longer journey times may, I suppose, include: the inordinate delay with sliding door trains as they go through various warning sequences before doors actually open or close; padding in the timetable to make sure punctuality targets are met; and a genuinely busier Central station, Should we perhaps also hope that passenger numbers are up, implying longer station dwell times?

  3. Wemyss Bay to Rothesay, Gourock to Dunoon and Ardrosssan/Fairlie to Brodick were car ferries from 1954 (or 1957 for Arran)- though sideloading by hoist,not roll-on /roll-off- though Murrays clearly didn't consider it worthy of mention!

  4. Yes, Dennis. I should have said "modern-style" car ferries. Thanks for the correction.