Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens are a popular attraction in the Scottish city, hosting thousands of visitors each year. But lurking deep beneath its tranquil flower beds and grassy knolls is an abandoned railway station, with two silent subterranean platforms hidden away for 70 years.
The station opened on 10 August 1896, an impressive feat of Victorian engineering bringing heavy transportation to a picturesque setting without detracting from its tranquility. Above ground, only an ornate red brick station building gave away the location of the subterranean railway.
Tough times saw the Botanic Gardens Station close down during both World Wars. The gardens reopened in March 1919, but by the time World War Two rumbled around its none-essential value to the war effort cemented its closure in February 1939. It never reopened. The silent platforms were locked away behind heavy iron gates and the site has been abandoned ever since.
The station building boasted two domed towers, giving it the look of a Russian Orthodox church and helping it hold its own alongside the grand garden pavillions. The building saw various uses after the station closed, including cafe and nightclub. It was ravaged by fire in March 1970 and despite damage mainly to the roof, authorities controversially decided on the wrecking ball. Before the fire, plans were already afoot to demolish the building and widen the Great Western Road – touted as the reason why it was not restored. Apart from the unusual domes, the station was similar to the one at Possil, also abandoned (above).
Today the only above-ground remnants of the Botanic Gardens Railway Station are two ventilation shafts (above). In September 2007 plans were put forth to redevelop the subterranean station as a bar/nightclub and exhibition space sporting a miniature railway. This would ironically involve rebuilding the station house to its original design. But the proposal was thwarted by local opposition to a nightclub at the gardens, and the site lingers on in dereliction today.
The station building’s footprint remains visible in a fenced-off corner of the gardens. The silent platforms can be seen through the ventilation shafts above and a nearby tunnel portal where trains once accessed the station. With no current plans to redevelop the site, there is every chance it will fade further into obscurity beneath the gardens of Glasgow over the next 70 years, known only to historians and urban explorers.
Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens Railway Station was also mentioned briefly in a previous article here. For more information about the old station and other great Glasgow abandonments, check out the Glasgow Urban Exploration blog, with the reassuring tagline: “Where even Neds fear to tread.”