Shining a light on our history
On 26 April 2021, following a multi-million refurbishment, Grand Central reopened to become a voco branded hotel, part of IHG Hotels & Resorts.
To celebrate we commissioned a stunning projection light show with memories and pictures contributed by former staff and guests alongside the words of local playwright Laurie Motherwell in audio poetry which celebrates Grand Central’s cherished place at the beating heart of Glasgow for almost 140 years.
Written and recited by Glaswegian playwright, Laurie Motherwell
We’re no royalty or aristocrats – nothin’ fancy like that.
There’s nae castle sitting high above us here.
We’re a city of labourers, textile weavers, and traders,
ship-builders and engineers.
A great hame for great thinkers.
Glesga builds grand with a flourish.
Over the top of Grahamston,
A new Victorian station connects us with the rest of the world.
A temple to the industrial revolution.
State of the art stables for iron horses.
The beating heart of innovation.
Each track an artery pumping blood throughout this country.
What eager explorers need is a place to call hame away frae hame.
It’s times like these when the grand auld dame of Gordon Street really comes into her ain.
Entire floors made of marble mosaic
And running up all five levels, an ornate staircase.
Now she’s been given some TLC.
voco’s done her up no expense spared.
A hotel for the future brought back to former glories.
For here she stands, longer than she’d like to let on.
140 years strong, and housing grateful travellers back to her beauty of day one.
She’s no just a bed to rest a weary head,
No an end point, or impasse, but a meeting place where different tracks can cross hands.
A destination in her own right.
Picture perfect for postcards and the like.
And always somewhere decent to coorie in from a dreich Glesga storm on a cold winters night.
Caledonian Rail would take you from busy city life,
to a jaunt up the Clyde to Loch Lomond Shores.
And for those with time on their hands, onto the highlands for vistas mair dramatic.
Awe-struck passengers would look from windows onto views pure magic.
Never shying away from a challenge.
Gallus Glasgow continued to forge paths anew.
At the turn of an era with the passing of the crown,
Instead of industry, technology came to the fore
A seismic shift into modernity.
A new connection not only by the tracks we can see
But by images we could share.
In a wee room on the fourth floor instantaneous transmission of living and moving scenes
From down in London, John Logie Baird transmitted onto screens.
Nothing is as hard for a city as the call to war.
Whilst Glasgow prepares, staff of the Central depart to play their role.
From her spot she could see the vital deliveries of munitions, steel and coal.
But the hardest part must’ve been to watch people say goodbye,
Soldiers leaving for battle as families line the platforms and concourses below.
And here she was to celebrate with those who made it hame.
And console others for a return that never came.
And in 1939 the sad news of Athenia’s fall,
brought a future president commiserating with the city into her halls.
Here she wis when times became fair,
with debutant balls and fashion shows,
glamour and fun once again could take place.
No matter whit, when there’s a little sun, you know we’ll find a way.
Thousands excited queuing round the block for the festivity of the Glasgow Fair.
For when the furthest you’d get to go would be ‘doon the watter’ on sic fair a day.
Next stop Wemyss bay, before catching the ferry onto Rothesay.
And if you’re lucky, it’ll just be like the south of France.
Just, make sure to bring your brolly, and an extra jaiket too.
It‘ll end up Baltic down there, you’ll catch a cold when that coastal wind batters you.
Doesnae take much in this place to follow the footsteps of the stars.
Oh, if these walls could natter.
There’s been all sorts, Mae West, Gene Kelly, Cary Grant, even that Sinatra.
On one such occasion crowds would stand by their thousands to catch a glimpse of Danny Kaye standing up high giein’ it laldy frae up in the balcony.
And mind cowboy Roy Rogers, when he stayed with his horse?
Trigger took it up upon himself to sign in, before trotting up the steps to his room.
She’s no stranger to legendary music makers.
With screaming fans desperate to catch a glimpse of their paramour.
From Led Zeppelin, to the Rolling Stones to the Fab Four.
And for any autograph hunters who managed make their way past the baying crowd,
they’d get treasured signatures put upon a famous coupon.
And behind all the fuss.
The maist memorable characters are those who kept her running sound of course.
Who throughout their time attending to every guest.
Helped with so many unusual requests.
Whether that’s catching an errant parrot on the parapets.
Or standing in on a movie set.
Two real funny guys. share a joke with a bellboy whose pencil’s too small.
Whose reply was ‘Same size as the tip you’ve given me n’aw.’
And when you need that taxi hame, have no fear,
There Jimmy would be, out where a fireman stands, tae hail wan for ye.
Now she’s moving into times more modern.
Forever a place to come together. Part of the voco family.
So whether you’re wan year the wiser,
Or making merry on your way oot of University.
The Grand Central has held a cities causes for celebrating.
Always waiting for those words, Here, are you dancin’?
The station out there’s always been a hame for heartbreaks and heartmakes.
Watch from the windaes of the champagne bar when folk are meeting that special wan.
Who was it you winched under the clock we all know so well?
Or maybe it was the spot famed for the large howitzer shell?
Before too long that’s bells you can hear.
Confetti covered couples passing through the doors
The day they took their wedding vows.
The hall filled to the brim, sipping something sparkling in good cheer.
Take this handkerchief to dab your eyes.
Throw away those tears and fears for past and future,
For this is a time for joy.
Being able to travel and visit special places will be with us soon.
Time for us to spend with our families and friends.
And when we can, here she will stand.
Waiting for when we can come together and build new memories again.
When all you want is somewhere to depend on,
but still a break from the norm.
Reliably different in her aen ways.
A hotel that cares for its guests as well as this dear green place
We are voco – lets come together
Come on in, and join us at the Grand Central Hotel.