In 1811, Glasgow's first ever railway was created with a short length of track running through the Gorbals area carrying horse-drawn wagons transporting coal from William Dixon's colliery at Little Govan to Port Eglinton, the terminus of the Glasgow Paisley and Ardrossan Canal. The colliery was situated at the northern edge of Govanhill near the junction of Cathcart Road and Aikenhead Road.
The railway benefited from the effects of gravity as the track carrying the loaded wagons ran downhill on a gentle gradient from the colliery to the canal terminus. Extensive horsepower was mainly needed to transport the empty wagons back uphill to the coal pit.

Map showing Glasgow's first railway from Little Govan to Port Eglinton

The extension to the M74 motorway closely follows the path of Dixon's old line, which ran downhill with conventional track across the rough terrain leading from the colliery and over the little stream known as the "Blind Burn", but became a tramway running down the middle of the road on the approaches to the terminus at Port Eglinton.
Later maps show a subsequent addition to the tramway which ran down West Street to Windmillcroft Quay on the banks of the Clyde. This quay was built by the Dumbarton Glasswork Company to transport coal downstream to their works at Dumbarton, which had no locally accessible sources of fuel.


Sketch of horse drawn coal wagons on early railway

The lading was divided among wagons carrying one-and-a-half tons of coal each, rather than one large wagon. This provided flexibility in the use of the horses and the rolling stock.

With the coming of steam locomotion in the middle of the century, horses were still used to haul the coal wagons needed to fuel the railway engines but were no longer required to pull vessels along the canal's towpath which were replaced by steamboats. As time and industrial innovation progressed, this part of the city would be totally transformed by the new transport technology.


In the 1840's new track was laid for the Polloc & Govan Railway, which was the first in the area to carry steam locomotives. It ran to the south of Dixon's original line, with railway traffic passing through a new tunnel at Eglinton Toll heading for the harbourside at the River Clyde.
After the Polloc & Govan Railway was purchased by the Caledonian Railway Company in 1847 the developing network had the capacity to travel southwards through Rutherglen and Motherwell towards the English border.

Southside Station was a Caledonian Railway passenger terminal situated at the junction of Cathcart Road and Pollokshaws Road at Gushetfaulds in the Gorbals.
The station opened on 29th September, 1848, providing a service to Arthurlie Street, Barrhead, operated by the Glasgow, Barrhead and Neilston Direct Railway, which a short time later was taken over by the Caledonian Railway.

Mid 19th century map showing Southside Station at Gushetfaulds


From 1st June 1849, the Caledonian Railway used the station as a terminal for its branch line to Lanarkshire, Dumfriesshire and Carlisle via Polmadie and Rutherglen. This length of track is now part of the West Coast Main Line.
The new locomotives could travel from Southside Station in Glasgow over the border to Carlisle at speeds unimaginable to the the old horse-drawn stage coaches which they had replaced.
During the first month of operation between Southside Station and Carlisle, Caledonian Railway's Passenger Engine 'No.15' made a number of well monitored trips to assess the speed and efficiency of the new class of compact little steam engines. The maximum average speed reached in the various trials was 41 miles per hour, when the locomotive was carrying five carriages on a non-stop stage between Lockerbie and Carlisle. The table below shows another journey calling at all the intermediate stations on the route.

Details of Engine 15 from Glasow to carlisle in 1849 Elevation drawing of Caledonian Railways Engine 15 in 1849

Southside Station continued to be used as a terminus for the Caledonian Railway’s southern routes though Lanarkshire until it closed in 1879, during the development of lines to the new Glasgow Central Station.


Southside Station was in operation in the very earliest days of photography. This poor quality image has survived to show the entrances to the station and the adjacent coal depot, as seen in the old map.

Old photograph of Southside Station at Gushetfaulds


The blueprint of Southside Station, below, shows the platforms which were entered from two stairways from the yard shown in the above photograph.
The track for the horse-drawn coal wagons can be seen in both the photograph and the blueprint. The old picture of the station vaguely shows the wagons and the horses around the same location as the rails at the bottom of the plan, below.

Blueprint showing platform layout of Southside Station at Gushetfaulds, Gorbals

The station had 5 tracks entering it, with 4 passenger platforms. The additional track between the platforms was used for the storage of rolling stock.
This pattern was also used for the tracks entering both versions of the terminals at Bridge Street, each of which had 5 tracks and 4 platforms.


The photograph below shows the site of Southside Station from Cathcart Road, alongside the ruins of Caledonia Road Church.
The Barrhead line which previously terminated at Southside was later elevated and carried by an embankment and bridge heading towards Gorbals station, the last stop before the St Enoch Terminus.
After Gorbals Station opened for Barrhead services in 1877, Southside Station continued to be used for Lanarkshire services until it closed in 1879.

Photograph of site of Southside Station beside Caledonia Road Church


Photograph from site of Southside Station looking towards entrance from Cathcart Road.

Photograph of entrance to Southside Station from Cathcart Road


Long view of the site of Southside Station with the overgrown railway embankment, built for the Barrhead line, to the left.

Long view of the site of Southside Station, Glasgow


View from the late 1960's of the viaduct carrying the Barrhead line over Cathcart Road and on behind Gorbals Street. The burnt out remains of Caledonia Road Church can be seen with the surrounding tenements still standing.
I can remember seeing the old timber framed buffers at ground level as I passed by on the 105 trolleybus, before it went under the bridge.

Viaduct carrying Barrhead line over Cathcart Road


Workshop facilities were sited at Southside Station, as a supplement to the Caledonian Railway's huge main works at St Rollox, Springburn, on the other side of the Clyde.
The Glasgow and South Western lines were all south of the river, making it easier to centralise the repair and transfer of rolling stock. Their main workshops were in Kilmarnock, with no need for facilities at their Glasgow terminals.

Photograph of entrance to Southside Station from Cathcart Road


Aerial view of the site of Southside Station, Caledonia Road Church and flats in the "New Gorbals".
The site of the station was later used as a freight terminal.

Aerial View of site of Southside Station beside Caledonia Road Church


Notice of the station's impending closure on 1st July 1879 was published in the Glasgow Herald of 27th June 1879. It informed passengers of the replacement stations which were to open on the same day.

Notice from the Glasgow Herald, 27th June 1879, regarding the closure of southside Station on 1st July 1879

The horse-drawn omnibuses used to connect Southside Station with Buchanan Street Station were withdrawn at the same time.
Buchanan Street was the terminus for the Caledonian Railway's services to the north of Scotland, with routes to Stirling, Perth and Aberdeen.


The old station is commemorated by Southside Crescent in the housing development facing its former site.

Southside Crescent


The letters column of Glasgow Herald of 22nd November 1879 published a reader's proposal for new station at the junction of Cathcart Road and Aikenhead Road as a replacement for Southside Station.

Proposal for new Cathcart Road Station 22nd November 1879


Gorbals Station opened on 1 September 1877 as a partial replacement for Southside Station. It closed on 1 June 1928.
It allowed access for trains on the Barrhead branch line to the new St Enoch Station, which had opened nearly a year earlier.
The photograph below shows the viaduct carrying the extended Barrhead line over a new bridge, crossing Cathcart Road, close to Caledonia Road Church. The familiar railway pub at the bridge, the Granite City, survives as the Brazen Head.

Brazen Head Pub, Gorbals, Glasgow


This photograph from c.1900 shows a train from St Enoch Station crossing the Clyde by the Glasgow & South Western Railway Bridge, heading towards the Gorbals stations.

Photograph of Glasgow & South Western Railway Bridge c.1900


Main Street was the first station on the line from St Enoch to Paisley. It opened on 1 January 1872 when services terminated at the temporary station at Dunlop Street, which was in use while St Enoch Station was under construction. It remained in use until 1900 when a new station in Cumberland Street replaced it.

The timetable on the station's opening day shows that services to Greenock were shared with Bridge Street Station, meeting up at Shields junction.
Trains from Dunlop Street went through the stations at Main Street and Shields Road. Trains from Bridge Street went through Pollokshields Station.

 Timetable on opening day of Main Street Station, 1872


The map below shows the lines to St Enoch approaching Gorbals Station and the nearby Main Street Station, before they connected at Gorbals Junction.

 Map showing Gorbals Station and Main Street Station


The remains of both stations at Gorbals Street can still be seen. The photograph below shows the site of the stations before the two lines merged at Gorbals Junction.
Main Street Station was on the left and Gorbals Station was on the right.

Photograph of site of Gorbals Station and Main Street Station


The stone staircase leading to the city bound platform at Gorbals Station is still in place.

View of outbound platform of Gorbals Station


On the other side of Gorbals Station, at Hospital Street, you can see the staircase leading to Waiting Rooms and outbound platform.

View of outbound platform of Gorbals Station


Close-up view of map, showing stairway entrances on both sides of Gorbals Station as seen in the above photographs.

Close-up view of Gorbals Station


Site of Main Street Station. Like the line and platforms at Gorbals Station, it is overgrown with trees and weeds.

View of outbound platform of Main Street Station, Gorbals


The present day bridge near the site of Main Street Station was a later construction, carrying an additional two tracks over Gorbals Street after Main Street Station closed in 1900.
The site of the dismantled 1870 bridge carrying the track into Main Street Station is shown by the much fresher grey brickwork, which was put in place after the bridge had been dismantled.
Colour differences below the wall show where the bridge supports would have been situated.

Site of bridges leading into Main Street Station, Gorbals


This extract from the "Glasgow and South Western Railway 1850-1923" , published by the Stephenson Locomotive Society in 1950 shows the changes which occured in 1900.

Extract regading Main Street Station, Gorbals

Main Street Station closed on 30th September 1900 to "permit of the doubling of the lines to St Enoch Stn".
The following day, 1st October, a new station, "Eglinton Street Stn (G & SW R), later Cumberland Street Stn", opened.
The Post Office Directories for this period show that this large new station had 2 separate addresses, 225 Eglinton Street and 100 Cumberland Street.


On the other side of Gorbals Street from Main Street Station, you can see the overgrown site of the 1870 bridge alongside the 1900 bridge.

Site of bridges leading into Main Street Station, Gorbals


An aerial view of the sites of both stations from the south.
The line of the original track at Main Street Station, as shown in the old maps, is marked by a broken red line.

Aerial view of site of Gorbals Station and Main Street Station


This photograph shows the very first trams to be operated by Glasgow Corporation, seen at the junction of Cathcart Road and Butterbiggins Road, Govanhill, 30 June 1894.
Horsedrawn trams were operated in Glasgow by the Glasgow Tramway and Omnibus Company from 1872. These were replaced by trams owned and operated by the Corporation at the end of June 1894.

First Glasgow Corporation trams at Cathcart Road / Butterbiggins Road 1894


Lion emblem of Caledonian Railway Company

Bridge Street Station
Before Central Station

Gorbals Stations
Southside, Main Street & Gorbals

Eglinton Street Station
Caledonian Railway Company

Cumberland Street Station
Glasgow & South Western Railway

Shields Junction
Disused Stations

Clyde Ferries and Docks
A working river

Before the Railways
Early Glasgow Travel

Railway Station Clocks
Architecture of Time

Cathcart Circle Railway
Origins and History

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