Words: Donald Erskine

Pictures: Gemma Powell

It's taken more than 175 years but Glasgow's Queen Street Station has arrived at its destination as a modern masterpiece. The station is the city’s gateway to the east and north of the country. Since its redevelopment, which was completed in October 2021, it’s also a major addition to the cityscape.

Constructed in 1842 by Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, Queen Street Station has evolved into the third busiest train station in Scotland: The station currently handles approximately 20 million passengers a year, and this is estimated to grow to 28 million by 2030. Throughout this evolution, the station was redeveloped between 1969 and 1973 – when Consort House was added – and again from 2017 to 2021 which included electrifying the lines as well as a redesign.

The demolition of Consort House to make way for the new Queen Street Station was welcomed and necessary. Where the eight-story office block embellishment loomed over the previous incarnation blocking any form of light and life from entering the building, this new shining form has risen from those gloomy ashes.

Announced in 2014 as part of the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP), the £120m redevelopment started in 2017 and was opened in October 2021. Edward Dymock was the lead architect assigned by BDP’s Glasgow Studio to design the project. Aiming to transform the shadowy, sombre and dejected 20th century cavern that was the station into a light, shining beacon for the greener future of Scottish travel.

Dymock was quoted promising to ‘put people at the heart of the design’ and that goal has been accomplished. When arriving at Queen Street, you are now greeted with one massive window to the sky and city, where previously the doors to exit were the only source of light.

Welcoming you from these windows is a slice of classic Glasgow architecture, with sandstone a-plenty and the magnificent City Chambers surrounding George Square.

The windows offer an external benefit also, acting as a mirror for these spectacular buildings Glasgow is so famous for – proof that modern innovation and historical grandeur can live side by side in the city. Accompanying the glass are planes of stone and ‘gold’ anodised aluminium which complement the modern, light look the new station offers. Corinthian columns with Victorian detailing which are part of the original structure were revealed during the refurbishment and left to stand in all their glory – as they should be.

Queen Street Station has finally reached its destination. Becoming a beautiful cornerstone for George Square that both fits in and stands out, and an electric greener gateway for Glasgow. It proves that the future of Scottish travel is bright.

In Association with City of Glasgow College