Pollokshaws West Railway Station was completely refurbished in 2013, transforming the disused station buildings into new facilities for South West Community Cycles. The project has been supported by First Scotrail through its “Adopt-a-Station” initiative and by Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, and has resulted in the creation of a state of the art new centre.
The station is a short walk from Pollok House and the Burrell collection, set amongst extensive city parklands. South West Community Cycles core business started as the repair, sale and letting of bicycles with broader community aims to “get local people cycling through the provision of affordable bike-related services and activities”. The centre provides free bike repairs to children, low-cost bike hire and sales, training, events and the newly refurbished station premises include a coffee shop. The Pollok Country Park nearby is an ideal place for cyclists of all abilities and ages. It has miles of track way including three mountain bike circuits. Pollokshaws West station can be reached from Glasgow City centre via the Glasgow Central to Barr head and East Kilbride lines.
POLLOKSHAWS WEST STATION is situated on Glasgow’s South Side. The station was built circa 1847 and is the oldest surviving railway station in Glasgow. Before renovation work began in 2010, the station buildings had been “sterilized” – with the interiors stripped out with only walls and floors left – and left empty. Following three years of extensive work the Grade B Listed buildings have been beautifully refurbished using traditional timber paneling and high levels of modern insulation with a modern, wood chip heating system throughout.
Annual footfall at the station is approximately 140,000.
Positioning is important. Whilst only a short journey out of Glasgow City Centre, the station is very close to a vast area of parkland with cycle trails.
COMMUNITY CYCLES SOUTH WEST
The station buildings re-opened in August 2013, becoming home to a local community business – Community Cycles South West. Their structure is Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation and the core business began as the repair, sale and letting of bicycles.
Cycle hire costs from £5 and concessions are available. Cycles are available to suit a range of different needs and include cycles for adults, young people, children and children with disabilities.
Low cost cycle repair and cycle repair training is available and especial focus is on providing activities and courses for youth groups.
Cycle training courses in nearby Glasgow Pollok Country Park are run by Cycling Scotland and Glasgow City Council in association with the centre. The courses are run courses by accredited trainers that can deliver a range of training from basic control skills through to on-road journey planning or introductory mountain biking.
After the training participants can enjoy the various cycle routes offered by the Country park, set amongst lovely woodland and open countryside. Set up for different abilities, the cycle circuits are divided up into:
Gentle circuits for all abilities
The green circuit – providing an ideal introduction to mountain biking
The blue circuit – that includes steep terrain and varied surfaces.
The red circuit which is more demanding and testing and offers the opportunity for keen cyclists to challenge their ability and nerve.
The organisation has also set up a café and offers room hire with conferencing equipment starting from £13. This includes 5 different spaces including Boardroom for formal meetings; Shared office space for collaborative working; Theatre for presentations; Classroom and “U-shape room” which was designed to enable and encourage open discussion.
ADVANTAGES TO RAIL INDUSTRY
The station at Pollokshaws has been transformed by the renovation and re-purposing of the old buildings. The “Tour de Coffee” coffee shop on Platform 1 is open to the public at busy times and provides very good quality food and drinks.
Anne Mc Chlery of Glasgow Building Preservation Trust said of the station buildings “we had to fit out the whole interior – from being a shell to becoming a multi-use centre with cycling being the main purpose. Interiors had to be insulated and lined with wood panels, bespoke shutters installed to provide security when the building is closed, a new lighting system and new services.”
“The bicycle business brings people through the station and makes everyone feel safer and more likely to use the station.”
ADVANTAGES TO COMMUNITY
South West Community Cycles work in partnership with the Glasgow Health Authority to relieve poverty, improve the health and education of local people and protect the local environment through the provision of affordable bike-related services and activities.
The station initiative also helps to promote and support The Burrell Collection, which is kept at a museum amidst the Parkland. The Burrell Collection is one of the greatest art collections in the world, consisting of more than 9,000 antiquities, objects, tapestries and paintings. The collection was created by Sir William Burrell. It includes stain-glass panels, arms and armour, architectural features from buildings around the world, gothic art, Chinese ceramics, sculpture, furniture, tapestries, medieval art and over 300 paintings from some of the worlds most well known painters; Degas, Monet, Rembrandt. In 1944 Sir William and his wife, Constance gifted the collection to the city of Glasgow to be enjoyed and admired by all.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
One great strength of this project has been to include all kinds of organisations in the structure – from Health Authority to cycling clubs and from rail industry to local community groups.
John Yellowlees of Scotrail said that in all the projects which he is involved in that the main recipe for success was having the right people at the right time to drive these developments. The particular driving force behind this project is Alyson Tannahill, who has recently been unable to work due to illness. Alyson was able to bring in excellent people and organizational partnerships to share the vision and help drive the project forward. Fortunately, this strong network has been able to carry on the project in Alyson’s absence.
Scotland’s supply of empty station buildings, coupled with financial support from both Scotrail and Railway Heritage, plus local authorities means the door is open for new business ventures.
OTHER IDEAS FOR SHARING
South West Community Cycles is an example of how local people with vision and local knowledge can be very good at spotting a new opportunity. In this case a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between Glasgow communities, station facilities, rail connectivity and the wide expanse of city parkland. This was a brilliant and timely idea, and it has been carried out to a high standard, attracting an impressive array of partners. Pollokshaws West was without a doubt the perfect place to set up a cycle-based business, connecting quickly and easily to a wide area of Glasgow via the rail system. One of the principle drivers for this project has been the collective will to address climate change through promotion of sustainable mobility and this is reflected in everything from the luxurious zero carbon heating system to the desire to share cycling with the masses.