Helensburgh Central: All platforms occupied at Helensburgh Central on 20th April 2008.
Colin Miller 20/04/2008

Helensburgh Central

Location type


Names and dates

Helensburgh (1858-1953)
Helensburgh Central (1953-)

Station code: HLC National Rail ScotRail
Where: Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Opened on the Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway.
Open on the Glasgow to Helensburgh.


This is a three platform terminus with a glazed roof. (It was four, but one platform's track is lifted.) There is a circulating area, covered by a glazed barrel ceiling with a small shop. The ticket office is by the main entrance off East Princes Street. At this entry is a two storey building facing the street, with a private lane on its west side. There is also a passageway entrance from the carpark to the north. The station is located in the centre of the town, close to the sea but one block inland from it.

The original station was somewhat smaller, rebuilding being around 1890. The original station was described in the Ordnance Survey Name Book thus

A large brick building situated Princes St, it is the Terminus of the Glasgow - Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway.

On the north side of the station site were carriage sidings, a small goods yard and a locomotive shed. All now gone, replaced with a two storey carpark. The goods and passenger stations were originally confined to the area which is now the passenger station, but progressively expanded north.

After electrification there were five electrified sidings on the north side of the station, outside the trainshed, beyond which were the goods sidings (five with goods shed).

A siding served the Helensburgh Gas Works, across Princes Street from the station.

East of the station was the ticket platform, on the westbound line between Charlotte Street and George Street.

Steamers called at Helensburgh Pier, a third of a mile away, which was new in 1860. These ceased with the opening of the combined station and pier at Craigendoran Pier in 1882.

The signal box was replaced several times. The original, just east of Charlotte Street, was replaced in 1898 with another just to the east. This was during the major reconstruction. This box was replaced in 1960, during electrification, with a modern structure just to the east of the Grant Street footbridge. That box closed in 1984 when the line was singled from Helensburgh Central to Craigendoran, the box there taking over. All the boxes at Helensburgh were on the north side of the line.


The station is not far from Helensburgh Pier, a block away to the south and a little west, and the West Bay beach and its Esplanade, a promenade which stretches west for half a mile. To the east the flywheel of the PS Comet [I] can be found displayed in a small area of park overlooking the sea

About a mile uphill, and past Helensburgh Upper station, which is much closer but with far fewer trains, can be found the Helensburgh Hill House designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. (Much closer is another one of his works, the Mackintosh Club .)

The route of the Three Lochs Way passes the entrance to the station as it climbs from the shoreline.


Terminus station

External links

Canmore site record
NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67


Gaelic name: Baile Eilidh Meadhain

Chronology Dates

  /  /1812PS Comet [I] Henry Bell
The first commercially successful steamboat, Henry Bell's steam-powered PS Comet [I] sails from Helensburgh to Greenock. Hull built by John Wood & Co of Port Glasgow, Steam engine by John Robertson and the boilers by David Napier. This pattern of hulls being built in Greenock and engines in Glasgow continues for some time.
28/05/1858Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway
Opened as single track from Cowlairs Junction to Bowling and Dalreoch Junction to Helensburgh. Due to a disagreement over station access charges between the company and the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway the first trains ran to Buchanan Street using the Sighthill Branch (Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway) and a connection at St Rollox (Sighthill West Junction) with the Buchanan Street Extension (Caledonian Railway) line. The disagreement was resolved a month later. (Alternative date 31st.) Stations opened at (eastern portion) Maryhill, Dalmuir [1st] and Kilpatrick, and (western portion) Cardross and Helensburgh.
  /  /1879Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway
Combined Craigendoran Pier and Craigendoran authorised on a new loop, Craigendoran Pier Deviation, on the south side of the line, east of Helensburgh station. Original alignment abandoned.
04/09/1894West Highland Railway
Helensburgh to Garelochhead train de-railed at Woodend Level Crossing by a stone placed on the line.
08/06/1953Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway
Helensburgh renamed Helensburgh Central.
04/11/1960Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway
Last steam trains from Glasgow Queen Street Low Level to Helensburgh Central as the line is electrified.
05/11/1960Glasgow North Bank Electrification
Service begins with electric services to termini at; Helensburgh Central, Balloch Pier, Singer Workers Platforms station, Milngavie, Bridgeton Central, Springburn, Airdrie. The new trains (Class 303s) built at Pressed Steel Co Ltd, Linwood, became known as the Blue Trains, these were used in all the Glasgow electrification schemes.
  /  /1985Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway
Glass removed from the deteriorating canopies at Helensburgh Central for safety.
  /07/1989Yoker Re-signaling Scheme
Re-signaling complete. Boxes at Helensburgh Central, Craigendoran, Dumbarton Central, Dalmuir Park, Singer, Milngavie, Westerton, Hyndland, Clydebank Dock, High Street East Junction, Bellgrove, Parkhead, Shettleston, Heatheryknowe Junction, Sunnyside Junction, Airdrie replaced by the new Yoker Signalling Centre.
  /06/2000Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway
Completion of a £1.4M refurbishment of Helensburgh Central with the trainshed and canopies repaired and re-glazed.
17/08/2002Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway
Low speed collision between stalled car and Drumgelloch-Helensburgh Central train at Ardmore Level Crossing.
30/12/2002Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway
The final public service for a 'Blue Train' Class 303 leaves Belgrove to run via Glasgow Queen Street Low Level to Helensburgh Central, following which it returns to the Yoker Depot. Shortly afterwards it headed to Immingham to be scrapped.

News items

15/11/2023ScotRail telecoms fault disrupts Helensburgh services [Helensburgh Advertiser]
06/10/2023Trains suspended in 'do not travel' weather warning for Scotland [BBC News]
27/09/2023Helensburgh train disruptions planned for this weekend [Helensburgh Advertiser]
22/03/2023Helensburgh Central trains cancelled due to moss on power lines [Helensburgh Advertiser]
14/12/2022Helensburgh Central services disrupted by train fault [Helensburgh Advertiser]
22/04/2022Helensburgh Central railway station ticket office opening hours: council leader concern at cuts [Helensburgh Advertiser]
12/04/2022Community projects benefit from £4m investment [ScotRail]
10/03/2022Slower journeys for Helensburgh commuters from Monday [The Lochside Press]
28/02/2022ScotRail push ahead with cuts to ticket office opening times in West Dunbartonshire [Daily Record]
25/02/2022Helensburgh Central station: Jackie Baillie MSP blasts ScotRail as station ticket office cuts confirmed [Helensburgh Advertiser]


A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Scotland - The Lowlands and the Borders v. 6 (Regional railway history series)

An Illustrated History of Glasgow's Railways

Around Helensburgh (Archive Photographs: Images of Scotland)

Battrum's Guide to Helensburgh and Neighbourhood

Craigendoran and Helensburgh (East) 1897: Dumbartonshire Sheet 17.06 (Old Ordnance Survey Maps of Dumbartonshire)

Glasgow Railway Memories

Glasgow Stations

Glasgow's Last Days of Steam

Helensburgh & Rhu Through Time

Helensburgh & the Rosneath Peninsula: The Guide Book: (Including Cardross, Garelochhead & Loch Long)

Helensburgh in Old Picture Postcards

Old Helensburgh, Rhu and Shandon

Rails Around Glasgow

The Railways of Glasgow: Post-Beeching

The Vanished Railways of Old Western Dunbartonshire (Britains Railways/Old Photos)