20 striking snapshots of bustling Glasgow life 80 years ago

Join us for a trip across the bridges, railways and waterways of Scotland’s effortlessly photogenic city.

Paul O’Callaghan
Updated:

Courtesy of Moving Image Archive, National Library of Scotland

By 1935, Glasgow had established a public transport network to rival that of any modern metropolis, as this silent educational film elegantly demonstrates. Glasgow Gets to Work is an early production by SEFA, the Scottish Educational Film Association.

1. The city streets begin to stir to life.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

2. A mounted police officer keeps an eye out for signs of rush hour road rage.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

3. The film offers tantalising glimpses of the city’s glorious turn-of-the-century architecture. Squint and we could be in New York or Chicago.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

4. Although out in the suburbs, the views aren’t quite as alluring.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

5. For many of those travelling a significant distance into town each day, commuting by train is the most efficient option.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

6. We’re squarely in the golden age of steam railways here, years away from an electrified overground network.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

7. Meanwhile new suburbs and satellite towns had to make do with transit by bus.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

8. Within the city itself, the Glasgow subway makes hopping around a breeze. Opened in 1896, it’s the world’s third-oldest underground train system, after the London underground and the Budapest metro.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

9. Kelvinbridge, depicted here, is one of 15 stations served by the system’s 6.5-mile-long loop.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

10. The subway tunnels have a diameter of just 11 feet, even smaller than the London underground’s deep-level lines.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

11. Traffic crosses the River Clyde towards Jamaica Street via the Glasgow Bridge.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

12. Glasgow’s thriving shipping industry at this time makes bridging the river unfeasible in some locations.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

13. Many commuters, young and old alike, are therefore reliant on passenger ferries.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

14. More substantial vessels are on hand to transport vehicles across the Clyde.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

15. A pair of equine passengers seem eager to disembark.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

16. A car emerges from the Glasgow Harbour Tunnel, which was constructed in the 1890s and closed in 1986.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

17. On days when extremely high traffic is anticipated, police and transport officials join forces to make special arrangements.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

18. Football fans queue outside Hampden Park. It was at one time the biggest stadium in the world, reaching a peak capacity of 150,000 in the 1930s.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

19. That’s a lot of people in need of a ride home once the final whistle blows.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

20. A well-dressed gent looks back at those he’s left behind, before throwing himself onto the nearest bus.

Glasgow Gets to Work (1935)

The film and stills on this page are taken from Britain on Film, a digital archive of UK places that mean the world to you. 10,000 film and TV titles from 1895 to now will be digitised and can be watched for free on BFI Player.

Britain on Film is funded by the National Lottery funding and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

 

Glasgow Gets to Work is courtesy of Moving Image Archive, National Library of Scotland

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  • Britain on Film

    Britain on Film

    Hidden histories and forgotten stories of people and places from the UK’s key film and TV archives.

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