The station and pier are perhaps the most famous landmarks in Wemyss Bay and their history stretches back to the 19th Century. The Wemyss Bay line was opened in 1865 after a group of labourers, mainly Irish, worked to take the line through the hills to Wemyss Bay.
The inaugural service was advertised as being superior to the line which served Greenock, as all of the carriages contained seats! The journey to Glasgow took just over an hour with a First Class return costing about 3/6 (about 22p) and Third Class 2/- (10p). Five years later (1870) the first steamer service to be run in association with the railway was started.
Inverkip station was built after a petition was submitted in May 1867 by Inverkip inhabitants (and visitors to the area) requesting that the trains stop at Inverkip.
The original station was a square, rather ugly building and the pier was also fairly basic and visually unexciting. In June 1903, the new "double" line was opened followed by the new railway station and much improved pier to serve the ever increasing Clyde Steamer traffic. The new complex became one of the showpieces of Scottish railways. It was dominated by the impressive sixty-foot Clock Tower, and was built in Queen Anne style, half-timbered and roughcast with sandstone facing. The large, circular glass-roofed interior became renowned for its outstanding displays of potted plants and hanging baskets.
Contained within the station were the tickets office, station bar, and various kiosks. A number of years ago the station underwent a major refurbishment and attempts were made at that time to restore the flowering exhibits to their former glory. However, due to lack of money, staff interest and neither Railtrack, Strathclyde Transport nor the local council being willing to accept responsibility for their upkeep, it was nothing more than a temporary renaissance.
However since then, a group called 'The Friends of Wemyss Bay Station' formed in 2009 with the aim of restoring the containers of plants for which the station had been so famous. From 2011 to 2013, Inverclyde Council awarded the group prizes for their efforts in their annual GardenFest. In 2013 they won a a silver cup! The group have restored three empty rooms at the station where they run a first class second hand bookshop selling books, CDs, DVDs, postcards and new publications about local history. They also have a display of photos of the station and pier, both past and present. They welcome donations of books and are anxious to collect photos (old and new) of the station and pier for archive purposes.
The following information was posted on our old message board by 'Big Al' in response to a question from Alex who wanted to know where the first steam trains from Wemyss Bay went to in Glasgow in the 19th century because Glasgow Central had not yet been built at that time.
'Big Al' replied as follows:
"Under the station is Glasgow Central (Low Level). For journeys north one has to either walk or catch a (frequent) connecting bus to Glasgow Queen Street (High Level).
"The terminus was built for the Caledonian Railway to replace a more unsatisfactory station on the south bank of the Clyde called Bridge Street. The first version of the station was approached by two lines across the Clyde on a bridge (now demolished) which ran to four platforms. This older section of the station was to the east side of the current site where platforms 1, 2, 3, 4 are today. The original terminus had no canopy.
"The station expanded slightly until a major expansion when Bridge Street Station, which had become a through station at two of its platforms, was demolished and a new larger bridge over the Clyde built next to the older one. This bridge is the one presently in use today. Using both bridges a much larger station was built. With re-signalling the deteriorating older bridge became redundant and was removed in the 1960s. The station today is an A listed structure."