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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Scottish Memories

For those of us old enough to recall the later years of Glasgow's once amazing tram system with 'caurs' scarred and worn still dominating certain districts and the city's principal commercial centre - it is reassuring to see survivors now carefully tended and in display condition. This is a far cry from their final chapter in the early 1960s.

Such was the size and scale of Glasgow's tramway that it still merited several operating depots almost to the end : Maryhill, Denniston, Partick, Dalmarnock and of course the huge workshops at Coplawhill with industrial cranage over the lines of repair tracks. Coplawhill was noteworthy for its seperate 'Paint Shop' as well as the extensive Permanant Way Yard off Barrland Street. The latter was a seeming maze of trackage among which were posed sundry works trams in dull maroon all over livery and the detrius of rail, sleepers, and much else liberally spread around the site. Even Glasgow's Works Fleet needed a numbering system all of its own - with little rhyme nor reason to how it was assigned. There was even a designated driver training car retaining its own fleet number, which provided initial practical experience for later generations of GCT 'motormen'.

At the very end in 1962 a smattering of the Works Fleet found themselves purchased for preservation and the valuable trucks, controllers and other components needed in the restoration of valued projects. Sadly none made it as far as the intended Glasgow Transport Museum. Fortunately a handful of the works fleet did evade the scrapman, including the driver training car which provided a topical garden shelter in the private residence of a local enthusiast for many years. Apart from this commendable initiative, none of the surviving works cars at Crich have been given display status. The nearest one came to this was W21 the 'Welders Tool Van' which trundled around the system usually nocturnally in support of innumerable track repairs and continuing closures in later years. W21 did for quite some time provide a noteworthy display on the right angled double track junction taken from Argyle Street through initiatives of a certain Stanley Swift. It was relaid at Glory Mine and offered appropriate setting for W21 - both being seen here :

All of this went by the wayside at some point and both track and W21 disappeared into the mists of the Crich reserve collections - joining it should be added, the unique Glasgow cable laying car (and diminutive trailer) which I once saw inside Coplawhill Works. A souvenir of W21 above clad in all over blue paint wholly unrepresentative of Glasgow's works car fleet. Below : a rather poor photo taken by the Author of W21 in its later position in Barrland Street about 1961

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