History of Glebe Street

Posted by Duncan MacRae On November 9, 2020 Comments Off

The History of Sauchtonburn, Glebe Street Goods Station and its Development

In 1796 the Minister, the Rev. William MacAulay, and Session of St. Andrew’s Parish Church, Sauchtonburn sold part of their Glebelands to Patrick Cameron, Ironmaster, for the construction of an Iron Works.   In their submission to Presbytery for approval of this sale Rev. MacAulay gave the following argument.

“St. Andrew’s Kirk is well endowed in Glebelands, more than sufficient for the support and maintenance of the incumbent, and the Kirk Session is agreed that it would be propitious to sell a portion of this endowment to Patrick Cameron for the purpose of establishing an Iron Works on this site.   This would have manifold advantages firstly in creating employment within the Parish thus discouraging idle and wanton behaviour from those otherwise predisposed to this way of life and secondly, with the pecuniary benefit obtained by the sale, the support of the poor and ailing of the Parish worthy of such support would be considerably advantaged.   Presbytery may be assured that the contract of sale agreed with Mr. Cameron ensures the Sanctity of the Sabbath by stipulating that no work, other than that of necessary maintenance will be carried out on a Sunday.”

Presbytery duly gave their agreement provided that the clause regarding the Sabbath was adhered to an in 1797 the ‘Glebe Iron Works’, or ‘Cameron’s’ as it was locally known, opened for business in Sauchtonburn.   It should be noted that Patrick Cameron was in fact an Elder at St. Andrew’s Kirk and therefore a member of the Kirk Session and was accordingly in no position to attempt to subvert the clause regarding no work on a Sunday.

The iron works benefited in particular from its location which was beside the River Sauchton, although ‘River’ was a generous term as can be seen from the name Sauchtonburn but also close by the Forth and Clyde Canal which had opened in 1790 and to which a short connection was made in 1799.   When the Union Canal opened in 1822 this was an additional benefit to the Glebe Iron Works but it was the coming of the Railways that allowed the business to greatly expand although ironically it was the urbanisation which followed this which ultimately led to its decline and closure in 1978.

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The Glebe Iron Works was a commercial success and expanded through the first half of the 19th century.   Joseph Cameron, son of the founder Patrick Cameron was now in charge and viewed with considerable interest the construction of the Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway, a short distance south of the works, completed in 1858.   Along with others in the Sauchtonburn community Joseph Cameron proposed that the Sauchtonburn and Parkhouse Railway be constructed linking with the GDHR near Parkhouse and proceeding north to Sauchtonburn and ending with a line accessing the Glebe Iron Works.   The GDHR were fully supportive of the venture as it would provide additional revenue and they would operate the line from the start.   A public meeting was held, followed by the establishment of the Sauchtonburn and Parkhouse Railway Company Ltd. in 1859 which raised the necessary capital of £20,000.   Following the act of Parliament approving the line in February 1861, construction commenced in April of that year and the line opened in August 1862 coinciding with the acquisition of the GDHR and its subsidiaries by the Glasgow and Edinburgh Railway, and subsequently by the North British Railway in 1865.   Joseph Cameron could feel justifiably satisfied with these moves as it gave the Iron Works access to the east coast ports and with the expansion of the North British to the north side of the River Clyde, access to these facilities as well.

The railway at Sauchtonburn terminated at the Glebe Iron Works after crossing the road connecting Sauchtonburn and the remaining glebe of St. Andrew’s Church.   It was at this time that the road became known as Glebe Street and the station took on the name of Sauchtonburn.   The station itself comprised a single platform and small goods yard and it could not be described as a good layout with part of the goods yard only being accessible from the station platform line.   This reflected the prime purpose of the line being to serve the Iron works with passenger services being only a secondary consideration.   Not that there were many passenger services with only two trains per day, one in the morning and one in the evening, from Parkhouse Junction to Sauchtonburn and back.

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With the expansion of the city more areas were developed for housing and, whilst it was never considered an affluent area, there was greater demand for a train service from Sauchtonburn with men from the area working in the docks, shipyards and the railway construction industry of the North British itself.   The two trains per day were increased with three trains each way in the morning and evening but with the conflicting demands of these trains and the storage of stock and the needs of the Iron Works, the North British decided to create a new line for passenger services only.   This line would branch off the existing main line further to the west between Maryhill and Lochburn stations and just to the east of the Garscube Colliery branch, cross the Forth & Clyde canal continuing to Sauchtonburn at high level.   It was at one time suggested that this line could continue on and join the line between Kilsyth and Falkirk but it never continued past Sauchtonburn.   The line was proposed to Parliament in the autumn of 1887, was approved in 1888 and the line opened in 1889.   Passenger services to the original station ceased and the new station took on the name of Sauchtonburn with the old station becoming Glebe Street Goods Station.

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The new station was constructed partly over Glebe Street and comprised an island platform with a line each side.   The station buildings were at the north end of the platform the main access being from the west, but there was also an entrance under the bridge which by way of stairs gave direct access to the platforms.   A small ticket office was built into the support structure to ensure that those wishing to travel could not avoid paying their fare when using this entrance.

In 1903 the NBR proposed that a link be built between Glebe Street Goods Station and the Falkirk to Edinburgh line just north of Bishopbriggs.   This was to relieve the pressure on the old GDHR main line which was seeing an ever increasing rise in passenger traffic.   Parliamentary assent was duly obtained although there was a delay in construction starting and this line did not open until 1911.   In practice it never saw a great deal of traffic and there were frequent rumours regarding its closure but this never came about until 1973 although it was not until 1989 that the track was lifted and the land reused for a mixture of affordable housing and small business units so that today there is little evidence that the line ever existed.

In 1912 a new form of transport arrived – the trams.   A line was constructed by the Glasgow Corporation Tramways linking Maryhill with Sauchtonburn and continuing in to Possilpark.   This ran down Glebe Street under Sauchtonburn station, it being fortunate that the NBR had built the elevated line at sufficient height to allow for this to happen.   The line then turned into Cameron Street with a stop beside the Goods Station convenient also for passengers to access Sauchtonburn station by the entrance under the bridge giving access to the platform.   However although the height was great enough to accomodate the passage of a tram the width was not great and this section remained single track throughout it’s life.

During the first half of the 20th century there were changes to the layout of the Goods Station and by 1949 the layout was as shown below.

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The only other changes were organisational as the NBR became first part of the LNER and then BR with nationalisation in 1948 producing alterations in signage and uniforms of the staff.   Regarding the Iron Works, the company went on from strength to strength becoming the internationally known ‘Cameron Steel’.   As it grew it outgrew it’s original site although the original works were kept as a small division producing specialist castings, initally largely for the various railway works in the area, but as these closed, it diversified into custom work for various industries.   However it maintained a link with it’s origins under the name of Cameron Steel – Glebe Street Iron Works – Specialist Casting Division although it was known locally a just the ‘Glebe Street Works’.   The use of the canal ended long before this and became derelict in 1913 but was never filled in until 1996 when the works finally closed and the site was redeveloped as the ‘Glebe Mall’.

Glebe Street Goods Station itself closed in 1990 and the area was cleared and a number of small commercial and business units constructed as part of Sauchtonburn Business Park.   With this development there was a continuing demand for a passenger service which continues to the present, the line having been electrifed as part of the electrification project of the suburban services in the early ‘60s.   The final non-electric service ran in September 1966 being a diesel 2 coach unit, these having superseded the final steam service in July 1964.

The model portrays the stations as they were round about 1962/3.   A mixture of steam and diesel services run to Sauchtonburn Station, as well as providing the motive power for goods arrival and departure and for shunting in the Goods Station.   The Bishopbriggs link has been closed and the Goods Station is starting to get a ‘run down’ look although it will continue in operation for another 26 years although the final years saw little traffic.   The trams still run though it will only be a matter of months before these cease for good, although they now stop at Glebe Street Goods Station and do not continue any further.   However the signs of progress are present as workmen are starting to erect the pylons that will electrify the passenger lines.

That is what could have been.   Apart from the existence of Sauchtonburn (there is no such place in Scotland), the iron works and the associated railway the above ‘history’ is accurate.

The layout is self contained the tracks from the high level and the goods yard which go under the high level being serviced by cassettes.   However if desired to extend the layout at some time in the future, or link it to another layout, this could be done on the low level with the ‘Bishopbriggs line’ and on the high level with the main lines or the storage siding at the front of this level.

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