26/06/2013
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The Glasgow trams

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Colin Black recalls the final days of the Glasgow trams.

When I was a boy, I lived right beside the Gallowgate in Glasgow and tramcars were constantly going up and down. If my pals and me had a couple of pennies in our pockets, we’d jump on a tramcar and ride the couple of miles to the end of the line. There, were old sand quarry workings, big holes with water at the bottom. We took our shoes and socks off and paddled in the water looking for newts and frogs. Mostly all we got were cuts on the soles of our feet from the glass in the water, but you felt you were miles away on a day out.
 
The end of the line
 
It’s all built on how, mostly car sales dealerships but out at the Glasgow boundary at Mount Vernon was where the line stopped. Before we went paddling we’d watch the tramcar switch from one track to the other over the points. The conductress (it was normally a woman) went along the car flipping the backs of the seats over into the position for going the other way, so that people were facing the way they were going. Some of the caurs (to use the Glasgow term) had a small cabin on the top deck, separate from the rest of the seating area at the front and my pals and me could get the same view of the road ahead as the driver directly below us.
 
But buses were slowly taking over from the trams. At first it was trolley buses, driven by the same overhead electricity that powered the trams, but a lot quieter. Some people called them the silent killers, with no engine noise to speak of, pedestrians had to have their wits about them when crossing the road.
 
The last tramcars
 
I remember watching the parade of the last tramcars down at Bridgeton Cross, the streets were crowded with people as the line of tramcars through the ages passed round the Cross and along London Road. All the tenement houses lining the streets had people hanging out the windows, and all the children were climbing on anything that would get them high enough to see over the heads of the adults.

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