I remember reading the biography of an English actor called Donald Sinden, known for his deep voice and aristocratic English gentleman roles. He famously observed that people very rarely look above the ground floor when walking around towns and Cities. He was a lover of good architecture and buildings, and I have to say that he is actually quite right. So, when I first arrived at the magnificent Victorian Grand Central station, my first job was to look up and observe the cathedral like splendour of its glass roof.
The hotel that I was staying at is actually part of the station complex, and the Grand Central Hotel is without doubt one of the finest hotels of its type in Europe. The walls drip with class and history spanning this remarkable complex. However, little did I realise that what you actually see on the surface is literally the tip of this huge ice burg of a building. Luckily for me I was able to take part in a truly remarkable tour given by a remarkable man called Paul Lyons, he has an incredible knowledge and an infectious enthusiasm combining really funny anecdotes and comic delivery and timing. With sobering and tragic recollections that achieve his stated goal of keeping those who have gone before still alive and very real.
In the 75 minutes that you are in his Company you will explore the warren of tunnels, levels, histories, and architecture that reflect the changing worlds of the Victorians but even more importantly the history and culture of Scotland. And how that shaped both the railway itself and the City, with its various influxes of immigrants, who both enriched Glasgow as well as getting blamed as immigrants sadly always do with all the ills, that befell the residents (mostly cholera outbreaks). A good tour guide leaves you buzzing and the online testimonials are all the same, this one guy is a tour de force and his honesty and passion are reflected in the different moods that he successfully imbues in those lucky enough to enjoy the experience.
I will make a point of going back as this is work in progress this man has only just started, so do yourself a favour, and if in Glasgow sign up for this tour, it will make a real impression on not just your perspective on Glasgow and the Grand Central station, but also on the people who made the railway and the City both then and now. The price for the tour is exceptionally modest and it is a crying shame that this one man has not been given the funding to realise his dream of bringing the Victorian platform back to life, shop, newspapers, products, fags, all the day to day paraphanalia of an age gone before. Just goes to show you that while history changes and modernises everything, Paul and history show that people and their emotions are the same generation after generation.