Jamaica Bridge Scenes filmed in 1901

by Chris Jones on March 2, 2010

There is so much of interest in the short film below, made in 1901, and now in the archives of the British Film Institute. Most of the scenes are recorded at the north end of Jamaica Bridge, also known as Glasgow Bridge, with the camera looking towards the corner of Jamaica Street and the Broomielaw. In the middle of the film, part of the granite balustrade on the bridge can be seen.
It is interesting to note how indispensable the horse was to commerce and transportation, even into the 20th century, as we see from all the carts and horse-drawn Glasgow Corporation trams going by. Jamaica Bridge was a heavily trafficked route to and from the City Centre and the Broomielaw and wharves. In order to improve traffic flow, the bridge was extensively rebuilt and widened between 1895 and 1899. A temporary accommodation bridge was built just east of the main bridge so that traffic would continue to cross the river at this location during the reconstruction period. This film was made on the new bridge after the reconstruction was complete and the vertical posts in the centre of the roadway were erected to carry electric lighting and support the wires for the soon-to-be-electrified tramway. There was a rush to get as much of the electrification completed as possible in time for the 1901 International Exhibition.

The presence of the tenement buildings and two-storey terraced villas in the scene of the parade at the end of the film are not in Jamaica Street but probably in a more suburban location. Does anyone know where?

    From the British Film Institute Archives

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

MickM November 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Incredible piece of film. Great website and some amazing pics of this great city.

Chris Jones November 27, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Thanks Mick. Glasgow is a great city. I would like to add more film clips if I can find some good examples.

trudi danks April 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Watching your film of Jamaica Street Bridge, my Grandchildren were incredulous…..where were all the cars they wanted to know.
Looking forward to more of the same.
Regards, Trudi Danks

Chris Jones April 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Thanks for your message Trudi. In those days, the cars, or caurs as they were pronounced, were the trams. This film was made shortly before the tram services across the bridge were electrified.

Irina Alba Grubb January 30, 2012 at 7:32 am

I loved this film, it is so evocative. I grew up in Glasgow and the atmosphere of this film just grabs any Glaswegian by the DNA! In the bacground of the film is the wonderful department store Paisley’s, which survived well into the 1980’s if not longer. My mother bought my school uniform for Laurel Bank School there all through the 70’s. Rowan’s was another wonderful department store I remember ( yes, more school uniforms… Dean House Prep this time! ). Sadly both the stores and my schools no longer exist.

Chris Jones February 4, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Thank you Irina. The film is certainly a very evocative look back in time, when everything on land was hauled either by people or horses. As you probably know, Laurel Bank School merged with Park School and the resulting Laurel Park School later amalgamated with Hutcheson’s Grammar School which itself had previously existed as separate Boys’ and Girls’ Grammar Schools. So many changes, but at least no one can take away history.

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