Memories : Glasgow Central Railway Station, June 1968

There’s nothing like being able to park near the train…

Glasgow Grand Central Station 1968

It’s June 1968 and we’re at Glasgow Grand Central Railway Station, admiring the on-platform parking. It’s the terminus of the West Coast Mainline, some 397 miles away from its beginning at Euston, and architecturally a million miles away from its southern cousin.

Making the news is the Ford Sewing Machinists’ Strike, later made famous in the film Made In Dagenham, by ultimately being responsible for the introduction of Equal Pay Act 1970. The strike was led by Rose Boland, Eileen Pullen, Vera Sime, Gwen Davis, Violet Dawson and Sheila Douglass and was called as the result of their machinist roles being regraded at a non-skilled level of pay. The net effect was that these skilled machinists would be paid less than their male counterparts.

The strike stopped car production at Dagenham and eventually Halewood and proved a PR disaster for Ford as the story went national. The then Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity, Barbara Castle, ended up intervening with the strike finally being settled with a more favourable rate of pay for the machinists. Their pay was raised to 8% below that of men, rising to the full category B rate the following year.

The strike led to the formation of the National Joint Action Campaign Committee for Women’s Equal Rights (NJACCWER), and a movement that would pressure the Government into the creation of the Equal Pay Act 1970. The act finally came into force in 1975 and prohibited inequality of treatment between men and women in the workforce. It didn’t completely close the gender pay gap, which still exists to this day, but the legislation certainly improved pay and conditions for female workers.

So, tell us about the cars

This fine selection of cars is a truly representative bunch which reflects the patriotic buying habits of UK drivers back in 1968 – as far as we can tell, there are no foreign cars whatsoever in that image. Closest to the camera is a Ford 105E Anglia, which was a big-seller right up to the point it was replaced by the Ford Escort in 1968. Alongside that is a Rover P6 and BMC 1800 Mk2 – the latter of which has been reverse parked in by an owner who’s hopefully specified power assisted steering.

Beyond that is a pair of Ford Corsairs flanking an Escort, which leads us to assume this is a car park favoured by middle managers – as they were definitely at the posher end of the Ford range, until these models were subsumed into the Cortina line-up in 1971. Further down the line, the picture becomes less clear with a Morris Oxford/Austin Cambridge estate and Hillman Hunter (below) being the only other easily-identifiable cars.

If you enjoyed this, let us know in the comments and, if you have any pictures you’d like featuring, drop me a line via any of the links below.

Hillman Hunter

Keith Adams

32 Comments

  1. Different days right enough. There’s no on platform parking now obviously. In fact, there’s now an additional line and platform where the cars in this picture are parked. The line leaves the station through the stone arch in the centre of the picture. It was intended to accommodate trains to and from the airport once the planned link was in operation. The link was never built.

    • True, one of the rare “international” airport NOT deserved by a train/tram line… line stops at Paisley, not far from the airport but too far from it and bus links aren’t great…

  2. Talk about coincidence! I have just returned from the monthly meeting of my local railway club, at which a digitised slide presentation of the railways of Scotland was given. It included several photos of Glasgow Central Station, one taken from almost the same viewpoint, but a decade or more later than the one here. The wide platform was empty of cars. The elegant clear span roof enabled an obstruction-free area in which passengers could circulate, a deliberate part of the station’s original design. That a section of the platform was lost to accommodate another line shows poor planning.

    No 1960s’ photo is complete without a 105E. And 1968 was the most pivotal year of my life. – women!

  3. Always had a soft spot for the Corsair, particularly the 2000E. Also the Rootes Arrow range. Good memories of those times

    • I liked the Corsair too. Two of my uncles ran Corsairs when I was a boy. One was an apple green 1700, the other a 2000E in red with a black vinyl roof. The 2000E was stolen and when recovered, in Newcastle, the engine was found to be blown. My uncle had the motor rebuilt but he never felt the same about the car and got rid shortly thereafter.

  4. I guess it’s a different world now but it’s funny how we all accepted the styles of cars of that period – without knowing anything about the struggles to get those shapes into production! I’m just reading Roy Axe’s autobiography and am fascinated by the Herculean effort needed by a stylist to get a company to change a rear lamp, let alone a whole wing section!

  5. Car ownership was low in Glasgow at the time, mostly being confined to the middle class, so I wonder if the cars parked in the station were people going to London on business, as they are mostly cars favoured by middle managers like the Rover, Austin 1800 and the Ford Corsairs.

  6. This reminds me of Snow Hill Station in Birmingham which was closed down a d used as a car park in the early 1970s.
    The main line between platforms was filled in with rubble
    My Dad used to park his Mk2 Cortina there, I hope to find some old photos

    • A similar fate befell St. Enochs station in Glasgow, just down the road a little from Central. My dad would park there when he drove into town. In recent years, what with booming demand for rail travel, I’ve read a couple of pieces imagining how still having St. Enochs would facilitate the development of rail services in and around Glasgow. Long gone now though. The site’s a shopping mall today. Like you couldn’t have guessed!

        • It’s a nice dream. But even if the glorified greenhouse that is the St. Enoch shopping centre was to be swept away in favour a rail development, it could never approach the grandeur of the original station and its attendant hotel. The demolition of same was possibly the most egregious act of civic vandalism in (reasonably) recent times. And there was a lot of that going on in Glasgow at the time as the M8 was driven through the middle of the city.

          • I agree with that comment. Some beautiful architecture and excellent infrastructure was lost to the Beeching report, which was a typical example of British short termism. Glasgow was ruined by the brutal modernists, but thankfully there overall design was never implemented. The Westway in London is another example of mad planners, and thankfully the rest of the internal motorway system wasn’t built.

          • @ standhill, also Glasgow had some enormous, ugly council estates built on the edge of the city that had few facilities and became as bad as the slums they replaced after a few years. Easterhouse must be one of the most depressing places I’ve ever seen, 30,000 people n rows of grim looking council flats that were riddled with damp and structural faults. Luckily most of these schemes have been rebuilt, but for decades they were miserable places to live and were blighted by substance abuse and crime in later years.

          • The loss of great railway architecture is also down to local politicians, and the town planning ideas of the time, sweeping out the old, and bringing in the new. Many of these closed station buildings could still be reused, as with Manchester Central or Bath Green Park

          • Glen, what about Cumberland! I live in a new town, the infamous Basildon but it’s not a patch on that disaster. The town centre stuck on a hill away from everything and made to look like concrete scaffolding! Brutalism unfortunately is on the return and more ugly buildings are appearing, we don’t learn from our mistakes. Thankfully we lost some of them ,like the horrendous Tricorn centre in Portsmouth, but disasters like the former Norco building in Aberdeen still exist.

  7. To modern eyes it’s surprising how much access cars used to have to major railway stations. Similarly, taxi ranks existed right in the middle of major stations like Waterloo and Paddington, whereas now they’re all outside

    • It used to be possible to park on the approach to Manchester PIccadilly, but gradually access was restricted buses and the transport police.

  8. The Ford Corsair bridged the gap between the Cortina and the Zephyr and was a good cat for the era I always remember the 2000 E having the wood and leather interior like a Rover, and later models having a radio as standard. It was ditched when the Mark 3 Cortina came with a 2 litre top of the range model and was considered superfluous to the Ford range.

    • While many BMC cars had long runs, by Ford standards the Corsair was pretty dated visually by 1970 when it was replaced

      The 1962 Cortina was replaced after only 4 years in 1966, the Zephyr Mk3 also only lasted 4 years from 62-66 before being replaced by the boxy Mk 4 whereas the 1963 Corsair lasted 7 years

      In a Ford showroom alongside the Escort, Mk2 Cortina, Capri and Mk4 Zephyr, the Corsair looks like a previous generation car

      • The corsair was never a big seller and didn’t meet Ford’s own sales targets. I know it was a pig to work on from tales from those who worked at Dagenham. Maybe it wasn’t replaced because it was such a big seller? It was actually the corsairs platform, a slightly stretched cortina that formed the base for the Capri.

  9. I agree with Glenn’s comments. Most Corsair 2000E’s had Zodiac MKIV style wheel trims and came with vinyl roof. Silver was popular. I once owned a Dinky model Corsair 2000E – strangely it had a 2 door body… don’t remember the actual car in that format.

    The prime Cortina III to replace the Corsair was probably the 2000 GXL?

  10. Pretty certain you could bring your car onto the platform at the glorious old Bradford Exchange station in 1968, sadly now gone. One of my earliest memories, when I also saw one of the last remaining BR steam-hauled services.

  11. Glasgow Central would have been very different in 1968. For starters, except for services on the Cathcart Circle, it would have been completely diesel. Then there would be the ornate looking tiicket office, now restaurants, with its mechanical departure boards, and men checking tickets at platform barriers rather than the electronic variety Scot Rail use now. Typically a diesel hauled express to London would take six hours, compared with four and a half hours on a Pendolino.

  12. Cumbernauld is ugly. but the real horror of a new town had to be Killingworth near Newcastle. It was dominated by a collection of grey tower blocks that were hated by the residents and lasted about 20 years and an even uglier shopping centre that looked like a prison. All of these brutalist disasters have gone now, but Killingworth is still a soul less, charmless place.

    • New Towns were like a plaything for architects in the ’60s. They appeared to be given a completely free hand to indulge their fantasies, no doubt each imagining themselves to be the new Mies Van Der Rohe and foreseeing how they might revolutionise building design. No thought was given to poor sods who would actually have to live in these monstrosities, and the architects never lost a nights sleep in their sandstone villas on leafy avenues. A plague on all their houses. Literally!

      • Totally agree. My house is actually quite well designed, utilising space really well but the rest of the estate is so badly designed with walkways with houses facing the back of another, no parking, small green spaces dumped everywhere which can’t be used. The estate behind where I live is even worse as its all walkways with a dodgy covered walkway that is now rusting away and is known as the cat Highway as the local moggies love how they can move around without human contact!

    • Killingworth had a Woolco department store when built.

      One of the better new Towns (also in the North East) is Washington New Town (NISSAN territory!) It was originally managed by Washington Dev. Corporation but now controlled by Sunderland City Council. I worked on promo Films of it in the early 70’s.

  13. Be thankful British Rail never decided Glasgow Central should go the way of London Euston and Birmingham New St and be replaced by some brutalist monstrosity. The destruction of the old Euston with its arch, hotel and great hall was bad enough, but the replacement for Birmingham New St had to be the ugliest railway station ever built. It had no natural light, the exterior was like a concrete box with few windows, and the platform areas were dark and miserable. Also I can remember using the nasty British Rail buffet with its low roof and fluorescent lighting and the ceiling leaking.

    • Also the platforms at Birmingham New Street are too narrow for a mainline station.

      At least a fairly decent job was done with Manchester Piccadilly, though it’s been remodelled at least twice since the 1960s.

      The Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth was one of the worst brutalist buildings from what I’ve read about it.

    • To me the brutalist style works better on the smaller stations on the WCML like Coventry, it’s probably a scale thing.

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