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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Remembering Glasgow - 1962

John Woodman

It is nigh on sixty years since Glasgow bade farewell to its 'caurs' amid large crowds lining the route of a final procession. I was fortunate to have been able to visit that city in the final years of tram operation when the centre was dominated still by streams of passing 'caurs' on the remaining services. Accompanied by Derek Redmond from Lancaster we jointly shared enthusiasm for 'poking around' remaining depots at Maryhill, Partick and Dalmarnock, as well as the cavernous main workshops complex at Coplawhill together with its permanent way yard at Barrland Street.

Glasgow still offered chance to ride on contrasting types of trams starting with the venerable 'Standards' in their 'Hex Dash' and 'Round Dash' modes, followed by equally venerable 'Kilmarnock Bogies' with their angular 'gothic' styled features. Glasgow's 1930s 'Coronations' made up the principal operating fleet joined by their 1950s postwar cousins - 'Cunarders'. A handful of well worn works cars of varying vintages could be seen parked at the Barrland Street yard but rarely on the streets in daylight hours. Coplawhill Works was still a busy scene but with dismantling of withdrawn and damaged trams being the principal duty along with retro preservation work on some fortunate survivors destined for museums.

One bright sunny morning I was fortunate enough to witness a lineup of the 'caurs' destined for Glasgow's own transport museum in gleaming paintwork. The final tram procession in early September being a few weeks ahead. This was sixty years ago - hard to believe from this distance. My preferred method of travel in those days was by Western SMT coach from the Coliseum Coach Station overnight to Glasgow - catching the sight of early morning trams as we arrived in the centre. Our accommodation was at the YMCA on Bothwell Street with a room overlooking the tramlines below. Some twenty years later I would revisit the same location, which by that time had been transformed into the headquarters of the Scottish Development Agency for which I worked as a marketing consultant in New York.

The early 1960s still provided a remarkable vestige of the once great Glasgow system, with routes 9, 10, 15, 18, 18A, 23, 26, 26A and 29 pursuing their traditional journeys through the city centre and along the shipbuilding yards on the River Clyde. The final remaining route was the 9 between Auchenshuggle in the east of the city due westward until the terminus at Dalmuir West. I managed to gain access on to a packed literally Last Tram from Dalmuir West that September - always to be remembered, It would be closely followed by a further Last Tram this time to Royal Oak on Standard Car 48 a month or so later. 1962 certainly would become a Memorable year.

An impressive line up outside Coplawhill Works of some (not all) of the 'caurs' destined for Glasgow Transport Museum. Below : Wee Baldie 1089 and the immaculate Coronation Mark I 1173 Signage in the windows inset for the Last Tram Procession through the streets of Glasgow

Below : One that didnt make it. Lower deck of a Kilmarnock Bogie car heading for an anonymous firepit on the city outskirts via a Corporation Thames Trader lorry just exiting Coplawhill Works. - All images : John Woodman


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