Remembering Glasgow’s forgotten train stations - including Botanic Gardens, Kelvinbridge, and the platform beneath Glasgow Central

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Glasgow’s criss-crossed with train tracks due to it’s industrial heritage - but did you know about these former train stations hidden right beneath your feet?

Botanic Gardens

You can still peer into Botanic Gardens train stationYou can still peer into Botanic Gardens train station
You can still peer into Botanic Gardens train station

Thousands of people visit Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens every year, but few have any idea about the secret abandoned train station concealed among the greenery.

Built during the heyday of Victorian rail travel, the Botanic Gardens station was opened in 1896. The station’s main buildings were on ground level, and the platforms underground, beneath the gardens themselves.

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James Miller (a renowned Glasgow railway architect) was responsible for the station’s eye-catching design. It was a well-known landmark in the area, and featured an ornate red brick building with two clock towers, topped with decorative domes, reminiscent of Russian architecture.

Despite its initial success, between January 1917 and March 1919 the Botanic Gardens station was forced to close due to financial struggles during the war. It wasn’t long before the station was permanently closed to passengers in 1939, just before the outbreak of World War Two.

The line remained open for a further 25 years, with trains regularly passing through the ghost station, but was closed for good in October 1964. After the station was closed, the building was converted into shops and cafes, with the platforms remaining untouched below.

During the 1960s, the space was occupied by a popular cafe called The Silver Slipper, a nightclub known as Sgt Pepper’s, and Morton’s plumbers shop.

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Disaster struck, however, in March 1970, when a fire broke out during a ‘battle of the bands’ contest in Sgt Pepper’s. It is thought that someone left a cigarette burning in the attic space, as the damage was concentrated on the roof of the building.

Luckily, no one was badly injured, but the cafe owner’s dog died from smoke inhalation. Firefighters were forced to pull down the iconic domed towers for safety reasons, and the inside of the building was destroyed by the fire. The outer walls remained intact, but the decision was made to demolish the building rather than repair it.

Despite plans being put forward in 2007 to convert the old station site into a bar, restaurant and nightclub, it has now lain derelict for almost 50 years. As with most abandoned places and buildings, caution is advised and it’s best to view the station from the outside for safety reasons, as well as to avoid trespassing.

Parts of the old Botanic Gardens station can be viewed without entering it, but it’s well hidden, in a quiet north west corner of the gardens. The underground platforms can be viewed from above, through open air vents in the Botanic Gardens.

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Although the station building was torn down, the floor and foundations can still be seen within a fenced-off area of the gardens. There’s even an original tramway kiosk, added to the station in 1903, which is still visible on the site. The old platforms have been taken over by nature and vandals (meaning they are no longer considered safe to enter) but remain standing – an eerie reminder of Glasgow’s past.

Kelvinbridge

The remains of Kelvinbridge train stationThe remains of Kelvinbridge train station
The remains of Kelvinbridge train station

The Botanic Gardens station isn’t the only abandoned railway station still visible in Glasgow. The remains of the next station up the line, Kelvinbridge, is also popular with urban explorers, and it has a spookily similar story to the Botanics station.

It, too, was designed by James Miller, and it was destroyed by fire in 1968, just a few years after it was permanently closed in 1964. The outer walls remain standing, as well as part of an entrance vestibule with fragments of black and white checked floor tiles.

Old Glasgow Central

The Victorian platform below Glasgow CentralThe Victorian platform below Glasgow Central
The Victorian platform below Glasgow Central

Beneath Glasgow Central lies the remains of the old victorian platform hidden beneath the new tracks we see today. The platforms were abandoned when the line closed in 1964. Currently only accessible by guided tour, the abandoned platform remains virtually the same as it was on the day it was closed.

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