Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting of the Old Glasgow Club

Held at Adelaides, 209 Bath Street

On Thursday 9th April 2015 at 7.30pm




Ms Petrina Cairns (President)


Ms Cairns welcomed members and visitors to the April Meeting and explained fire drill procedures, housekeeping rules and requested that all mobile phones be switched to silent or off.


Sallie Marshall, Isabel Haddow, Jane Collie, Eric Sheriff, Jim O'Kane, Alison Sannachan.


There are no Minutes tonight as the February Minutes had been printed out in error. March Minutes will be available at the AGM and the Ordinary Meeting in September.

Some terribly sad news regarding OGC member, Joe Marshall. Joe passed away last week after a very short illness.

Joe was a valued member of the Club who was always happy to help, be it at the merchandise desk or preparing the hall. Indeed, he helped the Directors prepare and set up for the last Members Night in February.

Joe was also the husband of Sallie, our Vice President, so not only have we lost a member, we have also lost a dear friend. We are all still quite shocked at the news and our thoughts and sympathy go out to Sallie and their family.

The Tappit Hen Bowling tournament is being held on May 21st at the Kelvingrove Bowling Greens. The current title holder, Anne, has kindly brought along the trophy tonight for us to see. The tournament is quite a part of the Club's history, this being its 81st year. Can I please ask Brian Henderson to tell us more about it? Thanks.

"Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Brian Henderson and I am a Past-President of the Club. I thought you would be interested to hear something of the background of our Tappit Hen Bowling Trophy.

The Tappit Hen background from the Origin and History of the Old Glasgow Club by Agnes McLaren Lockhart 1936 :

It was presented to the Club, together with silver toddy ladles by President, James Robb in 1934 and the first competition was held on 6th September of that year at Shawlands Bowling Green.

The Club's pre-war transaction publications indicate that there was a relatively poor attendance with two rinks of 16 participants in total where there had been hope for three or more rinks. The response in 1935 described the turnout as "very disappointing". On 3rd September 1936 the rinks were composed fully of 16 Club Members for the first time. Mr John Richmond, Bowling Convenor, expressed the hope that this might augur well for the tournament - and a "gallery" of spectators.

On 8th April 1937, Captain Philipe Durand, Curator of the People's Palace addressed the Club about the game of bowls and Glasgow Bowling Clubs.

Captain Durand had been a member of the OGC since at least the 1924-25 session, and was President from 1938-47. He indicated that the Tappit Hen was "an old Scots pewter vessel for wine, and greatly sought by collectors" he continued "that our bowling trophy should be such an historic and antique piece makes it suitable for a club whose activities are mainly concerned with the history and antiquity of our city".

He made the plea that "Members can best show their appreciation of the interest and kindly thought which prompted the donor to select so appropriate a symbol by supporting the annual competition for the trophy and making the event one of the most enjoyable, as well as the most popular, fixture of the Club".

At the tournament on 2nd September 1938, there were again only two rinks....however, hope was expressed for the future and that the tournament should continue.

It is unclear from the transactions when the tournament was restored after the War. The syllabus for Sessions 1947-48 to 1951-52 make no mention of it.

However, hopefully we can rise to Captain Durand's challenge from almost 80 years ago, ladies and gentlemen and keep the tradition going".

Mr Henderson thanked everyone for listening.

Secretary's Report

Mrs McNae welcomed everyone to the April meeting and informed us that there were lots of dates to put in our diaries for the Summer months.

AGM papers are out this evening, please pick them up from Sam at the end of the evening if you haven't already done so.

DVD for sale at sign in desk  to compliment tonight's talk. Gavin was executive producer of the programme "Circles Under Glasgow", made for the centenary of the Glasgow Subway.

Club Summer Outing - This years annual outing is to Kellie Castle, Fife, stopping at Callendar House near Falkirk on the way. It's the second Saturday in June, the 13th. Bus only is 14 (if you have NTS membership). Bus and Castle is 24.50 / concessions 21.50.

Mrs McNae invited Stuart Little to the stage to update us on High Tea arrangements : Stuart told us that High Tea was supposed to have been at Pitenweem Inn but that he'd found out today that it had closed and was up for Sale. He wondered if it was because they'd heard that we were coming ! If you have a spare 300,000 in your pocket and wish to buy it then please do so.

High Tea has now been moved to the Upper Largo Hotel where we will be accommodated in the restaurant. A choice of seven courses, toasted bread, cake, coffee or tea. Sounds good? This is optional but it is a nice way to end a lovely day out. If you're interested and haven't already put your name down then please come and see me at the end of the talk.

J.A.S. Memorial Walk is on Thursday, 25th June. Meeting for a cup of tea before the walk at 6.15pm in the library at Sinclair Drive. This year it is the "Langside Heritage Trail", led by Bob Marshall who co-wrote the Heritage Trail.

As usual, there is a lot going on in and around Glasgow's Museums and Libraries. Information can be found on www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums

Please also check out the People Make Glasgow website peoplemakeglasgow.com

President's Report

Last months talk by Dr Beard on Belvidere Hospital was fascinating. I hope inn the future we can invite him back to talk about some of the other lost hospitals.

In late March I attended a meeting of the Scottish Council on Archives Trust. This is a new steering group, chaired by Dr Irene O'Brien from the Mitchell Library, they are looking for new members. This was the first meeting of the group, I hope that the OGC can be involved with any future developments and projects.

Facebook page has 399 members as of today. It's a great way to communicate any interesting news, lectures or old photographs. It's also been very good for the OGC, on average we are reaching over 1,000 people from around the world.

There has been some great news regarding the expansion and restoration of Glasgow landmarks:

Glasgow School of Art - Architects Page/Park have been appointed by GSA Restoration Committee to undertake the renovations. Estimated completion time of 2018. They are the Architects responsible for Kelvingrove Bandstand, Olympia @ Bridgeton, Theatre Royal. The Head of Works is a graduate of Glasgow School of Art so the restoration work should be sympathetic.

Burrell Collection - 66 million expansion and revamp has been approved by Glasgow City Council. This means that the collections on show will expand by approximately four times in size. The museum will be closing at some point to allow the work to be carried out. The works are estimated to be completed in 2019.

The Briggait - part of the Briggait is to be turned into a dance and trapeze studio. This is part of a 4 million redevelopment involving the WASPS artists studio. The Grade "A" listed building already serves as the WASPS headquarters as well as providing studios, work and rehearsal space for artists, performers and creative companies.

Spiers Wharf - to become the permanent HQ of the National Theatre of Scotland and a base for rehearsal rooms, community drama workshops, technical, office and costume facilities. The 6 million project is scheduled to begin in July.

Jordanhill Campus - has been put on the market by Strathclyde University. It is anticipated that the three storey David Stow building, which was completed in 1922, could be converted for up to 71 residential apartments. Two further buildings, Graham House and Douglas House could house up to a further 23 apartments each. The remaining 1960s buildings on the site are recommended for demolition which would allow for hundreds of new build homes.

I'm so pleased that my last President's Report can pass on information about renovations rather than new builds. Hopefully this can be the start of a new trend for the city.

At the AGM we will elect the new Club President. Sallie Marshall as Vice President would have been taking up the Presidency, however due to circumstances, Sallie will be remaining as Vice President. It gives me great pleasure to announce that Stuart Little will now  be up for election as Club President....and....I'm sure he will do us proud.


How do I introduce the next speaker? - IT guru? technical maestro? mandolin player extraordinaire? bat enthusiast? Actually, I'm sure he needs no introduction, it's our own Gavin McNae, who along with our other speaker, Alastair Stirling, who was involved in the subway's Centenary celebrations will be taking to the OGC "inner circle" tonight on the history of the Glasgow Subway. If I could ask them to shoogle niftily to the mike....

Gavin takes to the microphone first - "Well, good evening from this side of the microphone! A 'Shoogle Down Below' is obviously a ribald and risque pun echoing Stuart's 'Shuggle Out West' which was the first talk of the session

Oor Subway - the so called Third Underground Railway in the World. I'm going to speak a wee bit about the difference between Facts and Truth.

When we proudly and fondly boast of "Oor Subway" as the third oldest underground railway in the World, beaten only by London and Budapest, the plain fact it that it isn't. In fact "Oor Subway" just scrapes in as the third underground railway in Glasgow.

Nowhere else is a city's underground railway held in greater esteem and affection by its people than here in Glasgow. It's "Oor Subway" and to us, in Truth (but not fact), it is the First Underground Railway in the world.

And possibly more important than any of that - Edinburgh hasn't got one!

I'd like to say I'm an expert on the Glasgow Subway and its history. I'd like to say that but once again facts get in the way.

The truth of it is that I was amused by Stuart's title for his talk on the Trams - "A Shoogle out West" and thought of the Underground and "A Shoogle Down Below". Joyce thought that would be funny - so here we are!

Twenty years ago I was the executive producer of the programme, "Circles Under Glasgow", which was made to mark the centenary of the Glasgow Subway. I got to select the information - or facts that were used and I got to decide how they were presented.

And so the Truth is that I got to create a very personal truth about the Glasgow Underground.

The Fact that there hasn't been another programme made since, means that until someone makes one, my Truth is the Truth. And a least I'm and expert in that! And more to the point I still had the Master Tape.

For those of you who don't have a copy of this very important work, don't worry I'm going to show it later.

Gavin tells us that when he first came to Glasgow as a student that he thought the Underground was a magical thing and just standing outside Buchanan St station was wonderful. He loved the warmth and the smell of the air as the train pulled into the station.

"The perfume "eau de Subway" transported you to exotic locations like Kelvinbridge, Hillhead, Partick - far away placed with strange sounding names and the promise of much to excite the teenage student's imagination and physical being. The subway was all human life just waiting to be lived."

Gavin now shows the members a short film of "Janette, on of the more senior members of the club - I like to call her our 'Living Fossil' and I think she likes it too." Janette tells us about the things she remembers from travelling on the Subway when she was a wee girl.

The next film that is shown is "in light of all that happened to Jonathon Burrows, the city slicker fare dodger who scammed 43,000 from the Southeastern Railways, I've had to protect the person's identity."

The short film is voiced over by an actor and is about how a well respected businessman (IT director of a major Scottish Whisky company with it's offices not far from here) routinely rode the Subway fraudulently as a schoolboy.

"Instead of going round in circles with these memories, how about we get right back to where we started and think about the Glasgow Subway.

As I said before I'm not an expert on the Subway. I just had to find experts; find experts and give them, pardon the pun, a platform.

So, after looking at the video preparing for this talk I contacted one of the historians we'd had working on the content. A couple of phone calls and a meeting and I had an expert for this talk - Alastair Stirling.

So now I'd like to welcome Alastair to the 'platform'. Now Alastair has a vast knowledge of all things railway. Indeed if you watched the news last week you'll have seen him commenting on the takeover of the Scottish Franchise".

Gavin and Alastair show us a map of 1892 where Glasgow is almost swamped by a network or railways and tell us why the Subway was really the third Underground Railway in Glasgow.

"in 1882 a Group of Glasgow Industrialist and Investors had managed to get a Bill through Parliament which allowed them to connect up some existing railways which ran to the East of the City, the North of the City and the West of the City. You can see at the top of this section that it's labelled "Circle Railway".

This enabled them to link the industries around the city - the Iron and Steel works, the locomotive and engineering works, the Coal mines, the Iron Ore mines and the docks.

One of the great movers of this scheme was William Laird of Baird's Gartsherrie works - the big problem that he and his co-investors had, was the southern connection - there was a city in the way. The solution was to go under the city and the section from College Station (High Street Station from 1914) through to Finnieston was put underground.

The Circle opened in 1886, a full ten years ahead of the Subway. If you were to take this line from College station and head in a westerly direction you go in a tunnel along the line of George Street before taking a slight right hand curve to bring you under Queen Street station to the low level platforms. From here, still in a tunnel you head west underneath West Regent Street to Charing Cross Station then under Elmbank Crescent following the line of Kent Road to Finnieston Station where you emerge into the light.

The second underground railway was part of the Caledonian Railway Company's City and Suburban line. This opened in 1894/95. Again, it provided a great link to Stobcoss Quay and the Queen's Dock. The underground section of this scheme ran from way out east through Finnieston/Stobcross then under Kelvingrove Park, Great Western Road and the Botanic Gardens.

This is an interesting line in more than one way. SPT really missed a trick, when it failed to open up the old tunnel that runs from Bridgeton through Parkhead. The Commonwealth Games infrastructure would really have benefitted from that.

Finally, we get to what you've called the Third Oldest Underground Railway in Glasgow - the Subway.

On this 1892 map the planned route is marked as a black dotted line and labelled "Cable Subway". This is the third attempt made to get a Subway Bill through Parliment. The first proposal in 1887 was for a single tube running from Partick to Buchanan Street (passed by House of Lords but rejected by the Commons). The second proposal, basically the route we have now, put forward in 1888 but objected to by Clyde Trust on the basis that a tunnel under the river would restrict dredging managed to scupper that one.

This is where lateral thinking came into play. The Harbour Tunnel Company, basically the same group of people as the

Glasgow and District Subway Company, proposed, and had approved, The Glasgow Harbour Tunnel between North and South Rotundas. The thinking was, "if we get one tunnel approved, they can't deny us another". And, so they presented the scheme again.

Despite an objection by the Caledonian Railway Company who were in the process of building their own underground line, the Bill was passed. The Subway got Royal Assent on 4th August 1890.

The whole route is underground. Two parallel tunnels, about six and a half miles long, trains running in opposite directions. Connecting the places people lived with the places they worked and the places they enjoyed themselves. That's what really makes the difference here. While the other two "undergrounds" were also good lines, the Subway was purpose built for passengers only.

It was quick, round the City in half an hour. It was two and a half minutes from station to station and it makes a point of being the only underground cable railway in the world. No Smoke, No Steam. Passengers really hated the other two undergrounds. Just imagine; steam locomotives running in long tunnels with the smoke almost suffocating you, it was an absolute ordeal. And, it was absolutely filthy. Not only was the Subway fast and frequent, it was clean.

Picking up on Janette's point earlier about the motion of the Subway...It was shoogly because of the rails and also the gripper had to pass over all the cable guides. It gives a considerable dunt each time. That and the fact that the seat pads were bolted to the floor so that they moved in different directions.

Alastair now show us some of the photographs from his extensive collection that he has built up. The car sheds, an old subway car on the back of a lorry on it's way to a museum in England, contrasting station designs, immaculately dressed staff, tickets and their cost, Botanic Garden Station, engineer Alexander Simpson, door that he bought for 2 in 1977, Govan Cross, Alastair with passengers.

Gavin tells us that Alastair and his friend, Stanley Leech had a book published in 1977 which contained many of the pictures seen tonight. It was called "Glasgow Subway Scenes" and cost 80p.

Gavin now flips back to a picture which has the engineer, Alexander Simpson in it. Alastair tells us that he should probably rank alongside Telford or Brunel but that very few people know of him. Many of the railways he built were in the Caribbean before he returned to Glasgow so maybe that's why he's so little know here. But it was Simpson who built the very first of our underground railways - the one from College through to Finnieston and it was Simpson who built the Subway.

Gavin says "Yes, that's what struck me 20 years ago when we were making the centenary programme. Simpson was an astonishing engineer, a real visionary - but who knows about him ? When making the film, I thought he should have been knighted".

Gavin thanked Alastair very much for his time on the presentation and for dodging tickets with him.

Q  Gaynor tells us that she used to dodge school an awfully lot. She used to get on at Shields Road and go round and      round for most of the day. After weeks and weeks of doing this she would get off at each station in turn and wander      about each area in turn. Or, as a special treat, go to the Transport Museum.

Q  Would they every be able to expand the Underground ?

A  It has certainly been thought about. It was talked about for the Commonwealth Games. It's regrettable that they didn't     open that stretch from Bridgeton Cross to Emirates Building.

Q Brian, just talking about Glasgow Underground songs - "there's Partick Cross and Cessnock, Hillhead and Merkland     Street, St George's Cross and Govan Cross where all the people meet ; West Street, Sheilds Road, the train goes     round and round; you've never lived unless you've been on the Glasgow Underground". Brian tells us that it's a song     that was often performed by Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy.

A  Gavin challenges Brian to remember the rest of the song for the next OGC Ordinary Meeting in September.

Q  A curious observation. When you look above ground there's lots of graffiti but I've never noticed any underneath ?

A  I think people may have been so shaken from their journey.

Q  Am I right in thinking that they are doing away with drivers completely ?

A  They are already automatic to a certain degree, with a driver just sitting in. I think it will probably come as it already      has in other places.

Q  I was in the Underground in Berlin last Summer, it's odd having nobody to direct questions to. The doors close     so quickly and it takes off at 60 or so miles per hour.

Vote of Thanks

Sam Gordon told us that he, like Janette, had a nostalgic journey. "You think of kids that don't even walk to school today. From the age of 5-9 years old I travelled from Copeland Road, Govan to Yoker as part of my daily journey to school. So, thank you very much for tonight Gavin and Alastair, for that trip down memory lane".


Fairfields talk on the 22nd April entitled "A Shipyard at War". Festival of Museums 15th-17th May, Fairfield Heritage walks and talks. Free but advisable to book on 0141 445 5866. Also an exhibition on the Lusitania on Sat 16th May in the Hunterian.

Next month is the club's AGM in the City Chambers. Please bring along your membership card as it might be required for entry into the Government building.

Finally, thank you all again for coming along tonight. This is my last Ordinary Meeting as President so for those who can't make it along to the AGM, I'd just like to say thank you for making the last two years so interesting and enjoyable. It's certainly been a busy and eventful couple of years but it has been an honour, a pleasure and an experience that I won't forget. Safe home and if I don't see you at the AGM, here's to a long hot Summer.

Next Directors Meeting - Thursday 7th May 2015                 Next Ordinary Meeting  - Thursday 10th September 2015