I wrote here recently about my first visit to Glasgow and going for a full circuit on the Subway. Every time I visited Glasgow on day trips, I invariably ended up on the Subway going to Kelvingrove or the old Transport Museum until I realised that they weren’t so far away on foot. It became a normal part of my day trips here and at one point it even became a normal part of my commute. It is just another form of transport and I don’t get massively excited about it any more. It is another option to get round the city and that’s it. Or it will be until July when it’s shut for a month for maintenance. You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone, to quote Joni Mitchell.
I have been to most of the stops at some point. My favourite is Hillhead, which has a stylised map of the area illustrated by Alasdair Gray on the wall of the ticket hall. I don’t like Gray’s work for the most part but I like that a lot. Another is Buchanan Street, where the escalator takes you up into the heart of the city. St. Enoch is cool too, with its new glass canopy in front of the old station building. SPT is spending millions poshing it all up and they are doing so very thoughtfully, with poetry on the walls of some stations and thankfully not doing away with the ornate old signs at Cessnock. Last to change will be the trains, which are cream on the walls with brown lino on the floor.
On the Subway, how ever many times I go on it, I always count the stops, always slightly paranoid about making sure I know how many until mine. Also I get slightly uncomfortable when it’s busy as the seats face each other and it means facing other people, which I find tremendously awkward so I invariably look up at the adverts or down at my feet. Looking up looks better, I think, as it means I appear less awkward. The sensory bit between stations is deafening but I know it isn’t so long until I’ll be off. I just concentrate on wherever I am going and that usually gets me through.
I have much the same experience on the London Underground though that is much more fraught since I don’t know the system as well and sometimes it is frightening and unpleasant, especially when you are much closer to other people than you really want to be, as in rush hour or the last time I was there when there were loads of folk heading to watch Arsenal in the Champions League. Thankfully rather than the maze of lines in London, Glasgow has an inner and outer circle. That’s it.
When I was in York recently, I had the great pleasure of visiting the National Railway Museum. They have an open museum store and I found some old station signs from the Subway, not quite laid out geographically but I think they can be excused that. The signs must have dated from pre-1977 when the Subway was modernised the last time since there were some different names. including Copland Road which is now called Ibrox and Merkland Street which is now Partick. I felt a very proud Glaswegian seeing my city represented in the NRM.
The Subway is also represented in the Riverside Museum here in Glasgow too. The old Museum at the Kelvin Hall had a recreated Glasgow street and the Riverside has one too, with an expanded section for the Subway complete with an old carriage and bygone marketing. I can’t help agreeing with one of the posters: ‘Coolest And Quickest Means of Travelling Is By The Subway’.