Glasgow Subway / Underground
This page brings together the Glasgow Subway / Underground, items listed on the rest of the site, and gives a brief overview of the system.

Original station names.

   1896 - 1923, The Glasgow District Subway....

In 1890 the Glasgow District Subway Company was successful in it's application to build & operate a small (6 and a 1/2 miles) circular underground railway around the West, Central, & Southern areas within, & bordering, the City of Glasgow.

Opened in 1896, it ran a fleet of cable hauled, diminutive, trains, propelled by a winding engine in Scotland Street and served 15 stations dotted in a rough circle around the city.
The first trains consisted of 30 cable gripper cars built by the Oldbury Railway Carridge & Wagon Co Ltd.  In 1898, 24 four wheeled trailer cars, built by Hurst Nelson Co Ltd were added, but these gave poor riding and 14 were subsequently rebuilt to become full length trailer cars. There were no points anywhere on the system or railed access to the surface depot at Broomloan Road Govan. For maintenance the cars would be lifted from the tunnels, via an access pit, by a crane within the depot building.  The company head office was in St Enoch Square (until recently the building was used as the  SPT Travel Centre).  The simple uniform consisted of a brown jacket & cap, supplied by a Trongate manufacturer.
The company title was changed to the Glasgow Subway Railway Co in 1914.

Subway gripper car & 4 wheeled trailer car.  The livery was plum & cream.

      Station Master J. Sheriden.

   1923 - 1973, Glasgow Corporation ownership....

By 1923 the company was having serious financial difficulties and accepted an offer from Glasgow Corporation Tramways (GCT) to purchase the system. The Corporation had already taken over the day-to-day operational running during the previous year.  
After some experimentation the Subway was fully electrified by 1935, and the gripper cars fitted with 600 volt motors & control gear to collect power via a third rail, the power coming from the Corporation owned Pinkston Power Station, which also supplied the trams. A colour light signaling system was also added.  Two years later GCT officially changed the 'Subway' title to 'Underground'.
Over the years St Georges Cross, Govan Cross & Copland Road, were rebuilt and all stations received some minor modernisation work, but apart from these changes the entire system ran largely unaltered until 1977.

After their purchase of the Subway GCT issued standard bus & tram crew uniforms to the Subway staff. 
Station Masters also wore a  'Station Master' worded embroidered badge on their jacket collars.

The first GCT Subway livery was red & cream, this was later changed to all over red.

Signal Indicator Board.
Each Station Master's platform 'box' (office) had one of these boards installed.

Made & supplied by the Westinghouse Brake & Saxby Signal Co Ltd in 1934, and used until the 1977-1980 modernisation.

(Many thanks to Brian Lennox of Ayr, for his kind donation of this rare historical item.)

Indicator board at Merkland St Station, 1977.
 (now in the Glasgow Museum of Transport).

Conductor's whistle.
As with mainline railways the conductor would whistle the train away at stations.
(See GCT page 4 for more whistles.)

Rule book issued to staff.

Selection of tickets.
The large number denotes the issuing station.

Station platform signs.

   1973 - 2006, era of the PTEs....

Local government reorganisation in 1973 brought the end of GCT.  The Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Authority and it's operational wing the Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Executive (GGPTE) took over the bus fleet and the Underground.  In 1975 the whole organisation was then absorbed into the new Strathclyde Regional Council, but the GGPTE title was retained until late 1980 when it was renamed Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive (SPTE).

The Underground ran virtually unchanged from it's GCT days until 1977 when a comprehensive modernisation plan was implemented.  Stations were rebuilt, or extensively refurbished, (four stations were also renamed), and a whole new fleet of 33 cars was ordered from Metro Cammell Ltd. These new cars were formed into two car trains but unlike the old rolling stock each car was powered.  Broomloan Road Depot was also extended & rebuilt with points & running lines to the surface. The old crane was no longer required.
Light orange with a white stripe was chosen as the new livery, with the latest SPTE public branding, "Trans-Clyde", applied in addition to the stylised "GG" logo.

The Queen reopened the Underground at a ceremony in November 1979, however it was to be mid 1980 before the last problems were ironed out and a regular service started to run.  The Underground again became a popular way of travelling around the city.
In 1981 a darker orange (known originally as 'Govan Orange', and later as 'Strathclyde Red') was introduced as the standard colour, the "GG" logo was dropped.  In 1983 the "Trans-Clyde" was also dropped for the new "Strathclyde Transport" title with the Strathclyde Regional Council map logo alongside.
As passenger numbers were increasing there was a need for more capacity. It was decided to order eight unpowered cars from Hunslet TP Ltd, each was to be placed between two power cars thus forming a three car train.

In 1996 yet more Government reorganisation led to the end of Strathclyde Regional Council. A reformed Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority, comprised of 12 Strathclyde area councils, was given control of SPTE and it remained the operator of the Underground, although a shortened title Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT), was now used.
Another change in 2003 saw the Underground officially regain it's old name, the 'Subway'.

On the 1st of April 2006, a new body the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, took over all current roles and functions of the SPTA & SPTE. The new body will still use the abbreviation, SPT.

Current station names.

GGPTE Underground 1977.
Staff now wearing GGPTE uniforms.

1980 Underground.

The extensive modernisation covered virtually every aspect of the old system.


Small selection of tickets spanning GGPTE, & SPTE, Underground operation.

Also shown above are three illustrated souvenir tickets intended to mark travel during the last days of the old system in 1977.  However, due to cracks appearing at Govan Cross station, the Underground was closed earlier than planned.  As a result, the souvenir tickets were never issued.

SPTE Underground male staff uniform cap.
GCT uniforms were still in use long after the start of the GGPTE era, however by the closure of the old system in 1977 most Underground staff were using standard GGPTE bus crew uniforms.
After the 1977-1980 refurbishment, new brown coloured uniforms were introduced for all Underground staff.
Brown was chosen as it blended well with the new train & station colour schemes which used various shades of orange, brown & cream. And there was a historical connection as brown had been the colour of the old Glasgow District Subway Co uniforms.
SPT has now introduced blue uniforms and no longer issues caps.


Cap badges.

Reinforced safety hat.

Jacket badge.

SPT female staff uniform cravat.

  Further reading....
Publications, videos & links, detailing the history of the Glasgow Underground.


Circles Under The Clyde, a history of the Glasgow Underground, by John Wright and Ian Maclean.
The Glasgow Subway, by David L Thomson and David E Sinclair.
Glasgow Subway Album, by George Watson.
Glasgow Underground The End Of An Era, by David H. Barzilay.
Glasgow Subway 1896-1977, by the LRTL.
The Human History of the Glasgow Underground, by Gordon Casely and Bill Hamilton.
The Glasgow Underground, by Brian Kettle.
Glasgow Subway Scenes.
Underground Centenary 1896 - 1996, souvenir booklet by Strathclyde Passenger Transport.

Video & DVD

Glasgow Underground, (produced by Online Video).
Glasgow Subway, (Produced by Stable Recordings).
Circles Under Glasgow - Glasgow Underground Centenary, (produced by Strathclyde Passenger Transport).

Website Links

Glasgow Underground History
A short history of the Glasgow Underground/Subway.

Glasgow Subway
A selection of Subway photos from the mid 1970's.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport
Official SPT Subway website.

Photo Credits