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Visit to Perth Station hosted by John Yellowlees amd Tracey Hutton of ScotRail: Tuesday 19 May 2015

The Scottish Region visited Perth Station and were given a tour by John Yellowlees amd Tracey Hutton, the Station Co-Ordinator of ScotRail.

The modern entrance to Perth Station.d

The modern entrance to Perth Station.

© John G. Fender 2015

John Yellowlees gave a brief presentation on the development of railways in the Perth area which began with the Dundee and Perth Railway building a local line from Barnhill that opened in May 1847.

Between May and September 1848 the Scottish Central, Edinburgh & Northern and the Scottish Midland Junction Railways all arrived in Perth.

Initially there was a row over the Scottish central Railway's toll on Edinburgh and Northern Railway passengers journeying through the Moncreiff Tunnel, but this dispute ended with the North British Railway securing a safeguarded toll and becoming a joint owner of Perth Station contributing 26% (Caledonian 64%, Highland 10%) of maintenance costs under the Caledonian Railway/Scottish Central Railway Amalgamation Act of 1865.

In 1848 the Scottish Central Railway opened the line between Stirling and Perth and in March 1849 the river Tay was bridged by a wooden bridge with the completion of the line to Dundee. However, this was not universally welcomed due to impact on Perth's the tidal harbour. The wooden bridge was replaced by an iron swing bridge to allow ships to pass in 1863. In 1890 this became a fixed structure.

In 1847, the Scottish Central Railway purchased 19 acres of land from Thomas Moncreiff and the Glover Corporation for £16,000 on the north side of South Inch and it was on this site that Perth General Station opened in May 1848. Prior to this there had been proposals for a railway station on the south side of North Inch and also on North Inch itself, but there were objections from the citizens of Perth.

A view of Perth Station showing the platforms and track layout. The line to Dundee is on the right.d

A view of Perth Station showing the platforms and track layout. The line to Dundee is on the right.

© John G. Fender 2015

Catering for about 1 million passengers per annum, Perth Railway Station was originally opened in March 1848 as Perth General Station. It was designed as a joint station by Sir William Tite who also designed the stations at Southampton, Carlisle and Liverpool Street.

Although much expanded beyond the original structure, this handsome building is still readily identifiable, although it now sits on an extremely wide island platform. It has seven platforms, five of which are "through" platforms.

For its design, Tite copied many features from Carlisle, particularly the generally Tudor styling and the turret. The main footbridge added later, is virtually a replica of the Carlisle station footbridge. The fine two-storey buildings have had several extensions and at one time housed three separate booking offices. The old refreshment room still retains its Corinthian columns, deep panelled ceiling and marble fireplace, relics of more prosperous times.

The main north-south platform is a broad island with bays, and was converted from the original single platform in 1885 when Tite's original frontage became partly hidden by the present overall roof which originally extended right across the station to stone screen walls but now covers only parts of platforms 3 and 4. These screen walls are also similar to Carlisle's and the westernmost one contains the filled-in windows and doors of the Scottish Central Railway offices which stood on the other side.

An interior view of Perth Station with the original footbridge.d

An interior view of Perth Station with the original footbridge.

© John G. Fender 2015

The main concourse was on the west side, where the overall roof has been replaced by light Caledonian-style awnings and here is a memorial to members of station staff who fell in the First World War.

In the east side screen wall an opening leads out to the carriage sheds beyond, and above it at one time there was an elevated signal box, the "Up Centre" which was notoriously dirty as engines tended to stand beneath it.

The "Down Centre" box was in part of the main block with a bay window looking out onto the platform. On the east side two external platforms curve sharply away, covered by separate ridge-and-furrow awnings. These are used by Dundee trains and today see more traffic than the main station. In the angle between them, and the older part is the main entrance and the Station Hotel. The Station Hotel was opened in 1890 and was designed by Andrew Heaton and this mildly Scottish baronial building was at one time linked to the platforms by a private covered way.

The goods station built by the Caledonian Railway north of the passenger station, was the best surviving example of a large goods station in Scotland rivalled only by Dundee West with a two-storey red and white brick building housing the offices and transit shed. The openings are all segmental-arched, with chamfered edges. The little two by five weigh house was in the same style.

In the late Victorian era traffic was intense during the summer as trains from all over England arrived to be marshalled for the long journey northward on the Highland Railway. An observer in 1888 noted a train of 37 carriages from eight different railway companies heading for the north. In the 1880s the station greatly enlarged and the Dundee lines made through, as today and the main entrance turned into vee, as today, with extra platform 3.

CILT Members taking part in the tour of Perth Station.d

CILT Members taking part in the tour of Perth Station.

© John G. Fender 2015

The original building was converted to island platform and the original entrance reduced, being remote and over a bridge. Overall roofs were added to original building on both sides, particularly at north end and a carriage shed built on the Highland side. The Glenfarg route to Edinburgh came with the Forth Bridge in 1890.

In 1911 canopies were added on Platforms 5 - 7 to the south of the overall roof. However following closure of the Strathmore line, the overall roof was removed from west side and north end in 1968 and a modern booking office built. The Glenfarg route closed in 1970 but the Ladybank route, closed in 1955, returned to passenger use in 1975 and became the main route to Edinburgh in 1990 with a service that since 2008 is hourly.

In 1977 the station, including carriage shed and gatepiers was listed grade C(S) and in 1993 the listing upgraded to Grade B. Although by day the station may seem overlarge for current requirements, at night it comes into its own as major location for stabling trains. The upper floor of the Tite building currently abandoned and in poor state, and the Railway Heritage Trust is seeking, through Network Rail, the adoption of a Conservation Management Plan which would enable all parties with an interest in the station to state their objectives and generally reconcile them away from any specific development scheme or pressures with a signed-off document to refer to for future developments.

Meanwhile the station's latest additions are the Access for All footbridge completed in 2013 and ticket gatelines introduced last year, and Network Rail has applied for, and now received listed building consent to repaint the station and replace glazing at Platforms 5-7 with polycarbonate in 2016. The new ScotRail franchise agreement envisages innovations including Tickets Plus and Bike and Go, and proposes refurbishment of the entrance and of buildings on Platform 7 to create starter units.

After the presentation the party were given a tour of the station and were able to appreciate many of the finer architectural features as well as the overall size of the station.

The Scottish Region would like to thank John Yellowlees and Tracy Hutton for their tour and detail explanation of the history and function of this interesting railway station.

Report by John Yellowlees and John Fender. Photographs by John Fender.


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