This tranquil scene of the Broomielaw quayside viewed across the river from the Bridge Hotel was captured by Thomas Annan in 1865 and, judging from the absence of people, it was probably taken early on a Sunday morning. Glasgow Bridge is on the right and the steamers Vesta (left) and Eagle are moored beside the deserted Broomielaw wharf. Behind is the Lord Byron Hotel and, in the latter half of the next decade, the buildings to the left of it would be cleared to make way for the Caledonian Railway Bridge and Glasgow Central Station. ( Courtesy of the Graham Lappin Collection )
Glasgow Bridge, also known as Jamaica (Street) Bridge and previously as the Broomielaw Bridge, was designed by the Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford and opened on 1st January, 1836. This albumen photograph, taken by James Valentine, probably dates from the early 1870’s and, on close examination, tramlines are visible in the road surface. These form part of the route opened on August 19, 1872 between St. George’s Cross and Eglinton Toll, operated by the Glasgow Tramway and Omnibus Company. Notably absent from the scene are Central Station, the Caledonian Railway Bridge and the St. Enoch Hotel which were not completed until 1879. The spire in the photo is that of St. Enoch Church in St. Enoch Square. The Lord Byron Hotel is now renamed the Lord Byron Temperance Hotel and it makes for an interesting contrast with the Custom House Wine Vaults across the way on Great Clyde Street. The Custom House itself is next door and in front of it on Custom House Wharf a steam crane is operating. It was to this wharf that sand, gravel and granite would be brought into the city centre from distant quarries by small coastal vessels. In the second half of the 19th Century, photography was becoming increasingly popular and in this scene there are two rooftop photographic studios, Bowman’s and Urie’s.
In this photograph, taken around 1900/1901, the bridge has been rebuilt and the road widened. Gone are the gas lights on the parapets and they have been replaced by electric lights running along the centre of the roadway. Horse-drawn trams now operated by Glasgow Corporation Tramways are crossing the bridge and the one in the foreground is headed for Paisley Road Toll. On the other side of the river, passengers are waiting at the Glasgow Bridge (Jamaica Street) landing stage for the river ferries known as Cluthas, named after the Gaelic word for Clyde. The service was introduced on 12th April, 1884 and by the time this photo was taken, twelve of these small steam vessels were calling at nine intermediate landing stages between Victoria Bridge and Whiteinch. The Caledonian Railway Bridge is now in place on the far left, leading into Central Station, and the large St. Enoch Hotel is just visible on the right of the photograph.
A Clutha ferry is approaching the Glasgow Bridge landing stage from the west in this 1901/1902 scene and, in the distance, visible through the first arch of the road bridge, a coaster is moored at the Custom House Quay. Perhaps it has brought in a cargo of granite setts to surface the city’s streets. A train has just left Central Station and the locomotive is hauling a rake of Caledonian railway carriages liveried in plum with white upper panelling across the steel bridge. Two open top tramcars are visible on Glasgow Bridge and the system has recently been electrified. ( Courtesy of the Graham Lappin Collection )
Between 1901 and 1905, major reconstruction was taking place at Glasgow Central Station. The number of platforms increased from eight to thirteen and the station was extended over the top of Argyle Street. An additional eight-track bridge was built over the river, immediately west of the original railway bridge. In this photograph, the scaffolding for the new bridge construction can be seen through the gap underneath the existing railway bridge. There is a subtle difference between the two different electric tramcars on the road bridge. The tram nearest the camera with five windows each side is a purpose-built electric car while the other tram which has six windows each side is a converted horse car. There were simply not enough new purpose-built electric trams produced to meet the needs of the newly electrified system, so up to 120 horse tram bodies were converted for electrical use. ( Boots Cash Chemists, “Real Photographic Series” )
Across the river, the Clutha pier at Glasgow Bridge is now closed and abandoned. The river ferry service ended on 30th November, 1903, having fallen victim to competition from the electric tramcars. Judging from the open top tramcars and the abandoned Clutha stage, this photograph was probably taken sometime between 1904 and 1909. The large St. Enoch Hotel is now clearly visible on the right of the photograph and the domed building is located on the corner of Buchanan Street and Argyle Street. ( Postcard by E. A. Schwerdtfeger & Co., London E.C. )
This photograph, taken between 1910 and 1914, shows busy pedestrian, horse-drawn and tramcar traffic crossing Glasgow Bridge, probably on a Saturday. The horses in the foreground are taking a well-earned rest and feeding from nosebags before they haul their next loads of what appears to be sand. The canopy of St. Enoch Station, the Glasgow & Southwestern Railway terminus, can be seen to the right of the St. Enoch Hotel. A group of men in the foreground are sharing a joke at someone’s expense. There are advertisements in the photograph advocating the use of B.D.V. tobacco, Melrose Teas and Oxo flavouring. Oxo at that time was sold in bottles as a liquid extract. ( Postcard by E. A. Schwerdtfeger & Co. London E.C. )
A coastal steamer is just about to pass underneath Glasgow Bridge. The vessel is light in the water, having delivered its cargo at Custom House Quay before canting and returning downstream to pass under the bridge at low water. The mast has been lowered and the hinged funnel tilted back so that it can clear the central arch. It would take skill to steer it through. ( Postcard published by Judges Ltd. of Hastings. Courtesy of the Graham Lappin Collection )
In this early 1920’s scene, photographed from Carlton Place, the internal combustion engine is becoming more evident on Glasgow’s streets, in this case in the form of a motorised lorry. The angle of the photograph gives a pedestrian’s eye view of the scene and the complex criss-cross girders of the Caledonian Railway Bridge are clearly visible as are the elegant and ornate street lamps on Glasgow Bridge.
This photograph of the eastern side of the bridge clearly shows the elegance of Telford’s original seven arches and the granite balustrade which were retained by public insistence when the bridge was widened in the late 1890’s. Buses are now in evidence on Glasgow’s streets when this photograph was taken, probably in 1923/24. There are two 14-seater Beardmore vehicles heading south on the bridge and parked in the foreground on Carlton Place is a Lancia on the left and a Reo on the right. The Lancia is in the service of William J. Wright and working the Glasgow – Kilmarnock service via Barrhead, Neilston, Caldwell Estate, Dunlop and Stewarton while the Reo, labelled a Comfort Coach, operated Whatmough’s Pullman service to Gourock, via Renfrew, Bishopton, Langbank, Port Glasgow and Greenock. The building on the skyline is the Central Hotel, adjacent to Central Station.
Legends © Christopher J. Jones