Tuesday 4 June 2019

Glasgow's Good Old Days (1)

fbbs first ever visit to Glasgow, with Alan (now Northampton correspondent) was on an all-line rail rover ticket in the early 1960s. The visit was brief with just enough time to look round the centre before setting off southbound. fbb's memory is vague, partly due to overnight travel in ordinary seated carriages - hence little sleep!

But he does remember a dark and fairly dismal place, obviously an exemplar of its heavy industrial presence and heritage. Tall blackened buildings and tired public transport are his endearing (?) but possibly unfair impression of the city.

Then there was no time to explore more widely. That came later with visits with the future Mrs fbb. Both she and her parents were somewhat nonplussed when fbb set off solo to explore the decaying central Glasgow quays, the big Finnieston crane ...
... and the foot tunnel under the river. To residents in "middle class" Bearsden, the idea of exploring the decaying remains of Glasgow's commercial heritage was "outside their comfort zone".

The present crane was the last giant cantilever crane to be built on the Clyde. It was commissioned in June 1928 by the Clyde Navigation Trust, the operators of the port and dock facilities in Glasgow, completed in 1931 and commenced operation in 1932.

The total cost of the crane and foundations was £69,000, 85% of which was met by the Trust. It is properly known as the "Stobcross Crane" or "Clyde Navigation Trustees crane  No 7", but its proximity to Finnieston Quay, and the fact that it was intended to replace the previous Finnieston Crane, has led to its being popularly known as the Finnieston Crane.

The crane was famously used for loading steam locomotives onto ships for export all over the world.
By the time fbb arrived (early seventies) commercial shipping had gone, leaving Waverley parked alongside empty warehouses ...
... but he was able to enjoy (?) the foot tunnel. Now only the crane remains ...
... and (bottom left) the former tunnel entrance. New bridges (foot and vehicle) cross the Clyde ...
... and you would never know that from here you once could catch an overnight sailing to Ireland.
Fares were £5 first class return, £3 5s (shillings) second class. The fiver would inflate to just over £100 today. The ships were "proper" ocean-going liners ...
... and the publicity was somewhat grandiose.
This information comes from a delightful Glasgow timetable book from 1963.
There were other options by rail and boat ...
... via Stranraer and even via Ardrossan.
In such a condensed publication explanatory notes proliferate as above:-

a = am
p = pm
V = stay overnight in Stranraer
A = ceases after 1st September
B = August only
§ = Monday only (leaves Sunday night)

You certainly needed your wits about you!

Burns and Laird's service ceased in 1967.

Or, if you wanted and even faster journey, you could take train and plane.
Again fares are given to all destinations. But the amount of information crammed into this tiny book is truly remarkable.

One other shipping advert fascinates.
In 1963 you could send your cargo by ship to Bristol once a week.
In later years the main routes of the company linked Glasgow with Belfast, Swansea and Bristol. The funnel colour was black with a distinctive white band and for many years was a familiar sight in the Glasgow harbour.  The steamers were named after rivers around the British Isles.
Sloan’s steamers sailed from the south side of the river at Windmillcroft Quay.

Windmillcroft Quay was adjacent to the bridge taking the railway over the Clyde to Central station, as seen in the ancient picture below.
Spot the difference today!
In case you are confused, Glasgow bridge, shown beneath and behind the railway girders, gave way to two road bridges, one on each side of the railway.
The suspension footbridge still stands!
William Sloan's sailings to Bristol ceased in 1968.

One final memory of fbb's exploratory wander. Whilst walking along Lancefield Quay he was approached by a Glaswegian "gentleman" with strong accent and potentially flammable breath, who suggested a visit to a local bar might be a good idea. He might have been looking for some financial contribution to his mid morning "refreshment" activity!

Later fbb discovered that this was the famous Bettys Bar ...
... although fbb had no idea then (nor has he today) what it was famous for, apart from the fact that it dated from 1851.

It, too, is gone - and fbb had, sadly but sensibly, declined his new-found friend's invitation, so never enjoyed is obvious (?) delights!

 Next Glasgow Good Old Days blog : Wednesday 5th June 

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