Glasgow's Forgotten Village

The Grahamston Story
- a piece of Glasgow history

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The years brought the railroad

Demolishing Grahamston 1876
Demolishing Grahamston to make way for
Central Station, around 1876

The years 1845 and 1846 are described by Robert Reid (Senex) as the daft days of the railway and joint stock mania. This railway mania saw scores of businessmen and rival syndicates conspiring to beat each other to the investment opportunities that this new mode of transport offered. Glasgow in particular was caught up in the madness, and has been described as a theatre of bitter conflict in which the rival railway companies vied with each other to bring their lines into the city centre.

This rivalry was a major factor in the siting of lines and stations in Glasgow, and was to seal the fate of Grahamston in the 1870s. The various companies failed to come together to establish joint terminal facilities and lost the opportunity of reducing the crippling effect of high land prices. The end result was poor integration of railway stations and lines. St Enoch and Central could almost certainly have been built on one site with less waste of land and resources. It has been estimated that 10,000 people were displaced in order to bring the railways into St Enoch and Central – a heavy price to pay for progress.

Central Station, built on the site of Grahamston, was the main terminus for trains run by the Caledonian Railway Company. It was built to operate in direct competition with GSWR’s St Enoch station. The two stations were situated a matter of yards away from one another.

Quite apart from the animosity stirred up by these manoeuvrings, there was widespread protest at the Caledonian’s plans to build Central Station. Out of almost 600 residential and commercial occupiers in Grahamston and the immediate area, only 42 agreed to the plan. John Carrick, then Glasgow City Architect and Master of Works, when he gave evidence to the committee of enquiry that had been appointed in London to consider objections to the station plans, remarked:

Duncan's Hotel
The Duncan’s Hotel building, a Grahamston survivor

“Why are we in 1873 inquiring into station accommodation in Glasgow? For this reason, that the companies cannot agree, it all comes to that. It is the jealousy and mutual distrust which they have of one another which has driven the Glasgow Corporation here to oppose these Bills.”

Despite these widespread protests, Central Station was completed in 1879 and formally opened on 1 August that year. It had eight platforms serving eight lines, running over the middle part of Grahamston.

The area taken up by the station covered the eastern and middle portions of the Grahamston site but the western side of the village, including St Columba’s Church, remained intact until the turn of the century, when the remainder of the village was demolished to make way for a station extension.

Remants of Grahamston can be seen to this day.


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the cover of Glasgow's Forgotten Village the Grahamston Story

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9 August 2018

Published June 2002.
(paperback ISBN 0-9542764-0-X).

Contact Norrie Gilliland the author of Glasgow's Forgotten Village at [email protected]