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cathcart circle architecture, introduction


The establishment of the Cathcart District Railway in the late 19th century had an enormous impact on the development of the Glasgow's southern suburbs. All the buildings featured in this exploration of the architecture of the city's south side neighbourhoods can be visited from stations on the Cathcart Circle line. I have not followed any strict geographical or political boundaries which have changed so much since the inception of the local railway.

The new line opened on 1st March 1886 with a daily service of over 30 trains between Central Station and Mount Florida.

Extract from a Peoples History of Glasgow 1899

The above extract from the People's History of Glasgow, published in 1899, shows that the Cathcart District Railway's line via Queen's Park and Crosshill reached Cathcart on 25th May 1886. The circular route back to Central Station by way of Pollokshaws and Shawlands was completed on 2nd April 1894.

Extract from the Glasgow Herald, 1st March 1886, regarding the Cathcart District Railway

The Glasgow Herald of Monday 1st March 1886, (above), describes a preview of the new line arranged for local dignitaries on the previous Saturday, a few days before it was opened to the public. Leading the group was Provost George Browne of Crosshill who was also the chairman of the Cathcart District Railway Company. He was accompanied by Hugh Brown, a director of the Caledonian Railway Company who were to operate the new train service. Also on the trip were Sir William McOnie, Lord Provost of Glasgow, Provost Smith of Govanhill and Provost Hamilton of East Pollokshields.
"Leaving the Central Station at 1.40 the party were conveyed as far as the bridge over Cathcart Road, beyond Mount Florida. A short stoppage was made at each station on the line to enable the company to inspect the station buildings etc." The article went on to report that "General satisfaction was expressed at the arrangements, which are all of the most approved order, and are calculated to be of the most service on such a line. In particular those of the company having practical knowledge of such matters stated their approval of the “island” form of station which has been adopted on the line."


Old map of Cathcart Station before Cathcart Circle line was completed

The above map shows the first phase of the railway development in the mid-1880's when Cathcart was the terminus for the line. The original station was situated at Manse Brae, where the site was later used as a goods yard.
The bridge over Cathcart Road at Mount Florida was the furthest extent of the railway when it first opened for service a few months before reaching this station.


Old map of Cathcart Station before Cathcart Circle line was completed

View from Manse Brae of train passing the site of the original Cathcart Station.


Old map of Cathcart Circle Railway

This later map from around 1905 shows stations on the completed Cathcart District Railway and the later branch lines of the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway between Ardrossan and Newton. On this line Muirend Station had opened on 1st May 1903 and Burnside on 1st August 1904.
The above maps give a "before and after" view of the area at the time of the expansion of the Cathcart Circle. In the first map, Cathcart is the terminus, while the second map shows the variety of stations and new suburbs served by the steam trains. The later Cathcart Station was sited further south and west than the original terminus.

It can be seen that the paths of the tracks around Cathcart was mostly through green fields with no need for any large scale demolition to make way for the railway.
Familiar south side place names appear in the later map but not in the earlier. These districts seem to have been built up after the arrival of the new lines.


View of railway from Cathcart Road bridge

The above photograph shows the railway bridge at Cathcart Road on the bottom left, adjacent to the Clockwork pub. The line splits shortly after the bridge, before reaching the site of the initial Cathcart Station.


Cathcart Junction

The above map gives a closer view of the railway junctions at Cathcart, showing the additional track operated by the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway. The stretch of line between Burnside and Muirend originally had its own railway bridge at Cathcart, running parallel with the bridge of the Cathcart District Railway. The subsequent links between the two lines close to Cathcart Station allowed passenger trains to travel from Glasgow Central to Ardrossan via Cathcart on the line which currently terminates at Neilston.

With regard to road transport, the "New Bridge" over the River Cart at Holmlea Road, shown on the map above, was opened in 1901, replacing a narrow humpback bridge dating from 1800. The extra width of the new bridge allowed the Glasgow tramway to be extended from Langside to Cathcart in 1902, on its way to Netherlee. The tramway had operated its first electric tramcars on 13th October 1898.
Cathcart was now so accessible to the city by train and tram that its annexation in 1912 was almost inevitable.


Cathcart Junction

The above map gives a wider view of the railway connections surrounding Cathcart Station.


Site of former railway bridge at Cathcart

The site of the second railway bridge at Cathcart can still be clearly seen. These views show new dark grey brickwork in the original cream stonework, indicating where the crossing would have been situated.

Site of former railway bridge at Cathcart


Aerial view of site of former railway bridge at Cathcart


Site of former railway bridge at Cathcart

View from the site of the dismantled second railway bridge at Cathcart.


The city boundary had been steadily moving outwards throughout the nineteenth century. Glasgow's borders first crossed to the south side of the River Clyde in November 1846 when the burgh of Gorbals became part of the city.
The Police Acts of 1850 and 1852 allowed settlements with populations of over 1200, and later 700, to become independent Police Burghs with their own municipal authorities. Shortly before the arrival of the Cathcart District Railway, a number of small communities on the southern fringes of Glasgow took advantage of this legislation, creating burghs which had lifespans of less than 20 years.
Crosshill burgh lasted from 1871 to 1891, Govanhill from 1877 to 1891 and East Pollokshields from 1879 to 1891. The districts of Langside, Shawlands and part of Mount Florida were also absorbed in the "great annexation" of 1891.
The expansion of 1912 saw Govan and Pollokshaws joining Glasgow along with Cathcart.


Dusk view of Cathcart Station

A view of Cathcart Station at dusk, illustrating the "island" type stations on the line, which were one of its original features.


Clean, smooth, electric “Blue Trains” replaced the steam and diesel trains on the Cathcart Circle lines on Monday 28th May 1962.

Extract from Evening Times on first day of Blue Trains 28 May, 1962

The Evening Times published on the afternoon of the first day of the new electric services, 28th May, 1962, reported that the trains were very popular with the commuting public, with the paper reporting that 5553 passengers had used them in their first morning rush hour.
The following day the Glasgow Herald reported an even greater use of the new trains in their initial evening rush hour, with numbers up by 33%. The paper reported that "the figure indicates that passengers earlier in the day had acted as unpaid publicists of the service".
There was lots of optimism expressed by the initial passengers that the new service would provide comfort, cleanliness and punctuality for Glasgow's South Side commuters.

The first hold up, which lasted a mere 30 minutes, was reported on Wednesday 30th May 1962.

Extract from Evening Times 30 May, 1962

Interesting to note how the "city workers" had the time to use the new fast trains to return home for their lunch breaks.


Destination board at Central Station

Destination Board at Central Station, 1965

Cathcart Circle trains leaving from platforms 7 and 8 are shown in the station's destination board (above), which was maintained manually by staff placing large boards in the window for each platform.
The boards for the Cathcart Circle and associated lines were coloured blue, indicating that the routes were served by the electric "Blue Trains" which had come into service on the lines in 1962, three years before this photograph was taken.
The Outer Circle train, via Queen's Park, was leaving from Platform 7 at 10:16, while the Inner Circle train, via Maxwell Park, was leaving at 10:20.
The green destination boards for platforms 4 and 5 were for local deisel trains which had dark green coaches at the time.


Central Station, 1965

Views of Central Station at the "Heilanman's Umbrella" over Argyle Street, looking eastwards from the Oswald Steet/ Hope Street junction (left), and westwards from the Jamaica Street/ Union Street junction (right).


 

Church on the Hill, Langside

  Introduction
Origins of Cathcart Circle


 Cathcart Explored
Architectural heritage






  Via Queen's Park
Outer Circle showpieces


 Via Maxwell Park
Inner Circle landmarks




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Domestic architecture


 

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All original artwork, photography and text © Gerald Blaikie 2014
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