Glasgow and South Western Railway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Glasgow and South Western Railway
GSWR logo.png
Locale Scotland
Dates of operation 1850–1923
Predecessor Glasgow, Paisley Kilmarnock and Ayr and Glasgow, Dumfries and Carlisle Railways
Successor London, Midland and Scottish Railway
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length 1,128 miles (1,815 km)
Headquarters Glasgow

The Glasgow and South Western Railway (G&SWR) was a railway company in Scotland. It served a triangular area of south-west Scotland between Glasgow, Stranraer and Carlisle. It took its name after a merger in 1850.[1] In the 1923 grouping of Britain's railways the G&SWR became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.


The main line ran from Glasgow along the west coast and to Gretna. The G&SWR also served Paisley, Greenock, Ardrossan, Troon and the ports on the west coast, between which it ran scheduled steamship services. It also owned the harbours at Troon and Ayr. Its headquarters were at Glasgow St Enoch station and its main locomotive works was at Kilmarnock. In 1921 the G&SWR had 1,128 miles (1,815 km) of line and the company’s capital was about £19 million.[1]

The G&SWR, in association with the Midland Railway, provided a third Anglo-Scottish rail route, the first two being the West Coast and East Coast main lines. It was as a result of involvement with the Midland that the design of Glasgow St Enoch station was heavily influenced by London St Pancras.


In 1850 the GPK&AR merged with the Glasgow, Dumfries and Carlisle Railway (GD&CR) to form what became the Glasgow and South Western Railway. Services could now run between Glasgow Bridge Street and Carlisle.

Other lines[edit]

The Prince's Pier, Greenock, in use today as a shipping terminus

Passenger ships[edit]

The G&SWR ran a fleet of passenger steamships on scheduled and excursion services from its various piers and harbours. In 1872 the Greenock and Ayrshire Railway Co bought the second-hand paddle steamer PS Marquis of Bute, dating from 1868.[6] In 1891 the G&SWR took her over and bought five more second-hand steamers. Three of them came from the fleet of Captain Alexander Williamson: PS Sultan (launched in 1861);[7] PS Sultana (launched in 1868)[8] and PS Viceroy (launched in 1875).[9] The others were PS Chancellor and PS Scotia (both launched in 1880).[10][11]

Thereafter the G&SWR had various Clyde shipyards build new steamers to order. PS Glen Sannox was launched in 1892.[12] PS Neptune and PS Mercury, who were sisters, were also launched that year.[13][14] PS Minerva (1893) and her near-sister PS Glen Rosa were launched in 1893.[15][16] With the delivery of the new ships the company sold Sultan in 1892[7] and Scotia in 1893.[11] PS Jupiter was launched in 1896,[17] the company sold Sultana in 1897[8] and PS Juno was launched in 1898[18] The company sold Chancellor in 1901[10] and PS Mars was launched in 1902[19] In 1904 the company bought a second-hand paddle-steamer, PS Vulcan (launched in 1897)[20] and sold Marquis of Bute.[6]

In 1901 the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company, shipbuilder William Denny and Brothers and passenger steamer operator Captain John Williamson formed the Turbine Steamer Syndicate. The G&SWR supported Williamson by guaranteeing his overdraft. The syndicate introduced the World's first turbine steamer, TS King Edward, which was launched that year. Denny built her, Parsons supplied her machinery and Williamson operated her on the River Clyde and Firth of Clyde. Despite this early involvement, it was not until 1906 that the G&SWR got a turbine steamer of its own, TS Atalanta, launched that year by John Brown and Company.[21] After that the G&SWR sold Viceroy in 1907[22] and sold Vulcan back to her previous owner in 1908.[20]

In the First World War, paddle steamers were found suitable for service as auxiliary minesweepers so the Admiralty requisitioned most of the G&SWR's fleet for war service. The steamers' names were changed because the Royal Navy already had warships bearing many of their original names. In 1917 two were lost on active service. In April Neptune, serving as HMS Nepaulin, was sunk by a mine[13] and in November Mars, serving as HMS Marsa, sank as a result of a collision off Harwich.[19] Minerva survived the war but did not return to the G&SWR. She remained with the Admiralty until April 1920 and was sold to new owners in Turkey in 1924.[15]


St Enoch station no longer exists. British Railways (BR) closed it in 1966 and it was turned into a car park. The roof was demolished in 1975. The site was redeveloped as the St Enoch Centre, which was opened in May 1989.

A stub of the G&SWR route relaid at Kilmarnock for coal traffic in 2010

BR closed the Bridge of Weir Railway and the Greenock and Ayrshire Railway to Greenock Princes Pier between Princes Pier and Kilmacolm in 1966. However, in 1971 the Princes Pier stub was connected to the Inverclyde Line at Cartsburn Junction in order to serve the Clyde Port Authority container terminal.

BR closed the Paisley Canal Line completely in January 1983, and the original Paisley Canal station, on the east side of Causeyside Street, was converted into a steak house. In the 1980s and 1990s the course of the line beyond Paisley was made into a footpath and cycle path. This links Lady Octavia Park in Greenock, through upper Port Glasgow, Kilmacolm and past Quarrier's Village to Paisley. It is part of the Sustrans National Cycle Route linking Edinburgh and Gourock.[23]

In June 1965 BR closed the G&SWR Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway and the joint G&SWR and CR line between Castle Douglas and Challoch Junction (between Dunragit and Glenluce). BR withdrew the local passenger service from the Dalry Junction — Kilmarnock part of the Carlisle main line in 1966 and closed it completely in October 1973 after completion of the West Coast Main Line electrification. Thereafter all services to Glasgow ran over the Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Joint Railway via Stewarton.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 24 December 1902, a freight train was derailed at Carlisle, Cumberland after the driver misread signals.[24]

The G&SWR today[edit]

Various lines of the G&SWR still operate today out of the former Caledonian Railway's Glasgow Central station. They are the Paisley Canal Line (now truncated at Paisley Canal) and SPT's Ayrshire Coast Lines; the Glasgow South Western Line to Dumfries and Carlisle; and to Stranraer.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Hammerton, 1921
  2. ^ a b c d Thomas, 1971
  3. ^ "Proposed Railway". NAS. 
  4. ^ Robertson, 1983
  5. ^ "Greenock". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911. 
  6. ^ a b "PS Marquis of Bute". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "PS Sultan". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "PS Sultana". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "Viceroy (1875)". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "PS Chancellor". Clyde Built Database. Clydesite. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "SS Scotia". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "PS Glen Sannox". Clyde Built Database. Clydesite. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "PS Neptune". Clyde Built Database. Clydesite. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "PS Mercury". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "SS Minerva". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "PS Glen Rosa". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "PS Jupiter". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  18. ^ "PS Juno". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "PS Mars". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "P.S. Kylemore (ex - Vulcan, ex - Britannia, ex - Kylemore)". Tramscape. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  21. ^ "TS Atalanta". Clyde Built Database. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  22. ^ "PS Rhos Colwyn ( ex - Viceroy)". Tramscape. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  23. ^ "Leisure - Sports". Inverclyde Council. 
  24. ^ Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 21. ISBN 0-906899-03-6. 


  • The Railway Year Book: 1912. London: Railway Publishing Company. OCLC 12305143. 

External links[edit]