THE CASH RAILWAY WEBSITE
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The first cash railway in Scotland was at Arnotts in Glasgow in July 1885. By November "a number" of systems had been installed in Glasgow "warehouses", three in Edinburgh, and the first north of the Forth was put in at James Spencer & Co., Dundee. This was closely followed by Watt & Grant in Aberdeen. The first pneumatic system apears to be at Blakeney & Sons of Dundee in 1887, the invention of Mr W.H. Blakeney.
ABERDEEN. Isaac Benzie, George Street. Pneumatic
tube system. Closed around 1960s. (M.Anderson-Smith). "I loved the .. little
cylinders they put your money and receipt in and sent them shooting up to the
office in little tracks then back it came with your change." ('RosemountK'
in posting to This
is North Scotland Bulletin Board, 2 Jul. 2005)
• Video at Scottish Film archive shows the counter terminal and cash office well, ca. 1931.
ABERDEEN. Co-op, Loch
Street . "The new central premises of the Northern Co-operative Company erected in Gallowgate and Loch Street are now all but completed... The pneumatic tube system of transmission from cashier to counter has been installed throughout the salerooms." Aberdeen Journal, 3 Apr. 1903, p.4
• "Cash whizzed around the ceilings in Lampson [sic] tubes, like rattling steam trains." Aberdeen Eevening Express, 28 Jun 2000, p.17
• "The one on the right side was Pneumatic and the returning cylinder would be ejected from the brass tube into a square wire basket. And the other system on the left side of the Arcade was in the Co-opey Shoe department. And that one was different - it consisted of your money being whisked away on a cable that stretched up to the cashiers in a separate room up in the top corner in a mezanine... I think it rolled on two wheels suspended from a 'clothes-line' setup... I seem to recall that they pulled down a lever and it shot away up there like an arrow." Jim Rae in posting to This is North Scotland Bulletin Board, 2 Jul. 2005. The shop was bulldozed in the late 1980s.
ABERDEEN. John Falconer, 65 Union Street. "Result of competition, 230,148 feet, or 43 miles 1036 yards, being the number of feet travelled on Friday, 23rd December, by our Lamson Cash Carriers. The day being a wet one, the number of feet travelled was much less than either the day previous or the day following. Intimation has been sent to the six successful competitors to call and select their prizes." Aberdeen Daily Journal, 31 Dec. 1904, p. 10
• Pneumatic tube system. Closed around 1960s. M.Anderson-Smith
ABERDEEN. Duncan Fraser, drapers, Schoolhill. Pneumatic tube system. Closed around 1960s. M.Anderson-Smith. "I remember being fascinated by the pulley system." Cath Russell posting to Aberdeen-L list, 2 Dec. 03. Duncan Fraser was 152nd Lord Provost of Aberdeen ca. 1949.
ABERDEEN. James Hardy (jewellers), 53 Union Street. "Lamson cash system for sale. Messrs James Hardy & Co., Ltd., Jewellers, 53 Union Street, have for disposal complete Lamson cash compressed air tube system, with two despatch stations and double reception station in office. Cost £80." Aberdeen Press and Journal, 24 Jan. 1929, p.12
ABERDEEN. "Raggie" Morrison, St Nicholas Street. Pneumatic tube system. Closed around 1950s. M.Anderson-Smith
ABERDEEN. Reid & Pearson, George Street. Pneumatic tube system. Closed around 1960s. M.Anderson-Smith
ABERDEEN. Watt & Grant, 225 Union Street. "Three of these [cash] railways have been fitted up in Edinburgh, two in Dundee, a number in Glasgow, but until just now there has been none so far north as Aberdeen. The firm of Messrs Watt and Grant .. have been the first to introduce the railway to Aberdeen. The special railway consists of two lines of polished wood, the guage being 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 inches broad. Being very light it is suspended from the roof by wires at such a height as to cause no obstruction, and is rather an ornament than otherwise... There are four stations, or five if the cashier's desk is included. Two of them are placed at each counter... The railway is now in full working order, and is well worthy of inspection. Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 21 Nov. 1885
AIRDRIE. Cowans, 1-3 Louden Street. "For sale, or to let, those large and commodious premises situated at 1 and 3 Lousen Street, Airdie, and presently occupied by Messrs. Cowans. The warehouse comprises three large flats... fitted with hydraulic hoist, Lamson's Cash Railway, &c." Glasgow Herald, 5 Jun. 1897
ARBROATH. Arbroath High Street Co-operative Society, High Street. "The new premises .. occupy the corner of High Street and Church Street... The contractors were as follows: .. cash carriers, The Gipe Carrier Co. Ltd., Holborn, London, E.C." Arbroath Herald, 25 Mar. 1910, p. 6
AYR. Hourstons (dept. store), Alloway Street. "Until at least the 1970s, Hourstons .. had a pneumatic system which I remember as having quite discreet terminals with a simple lift-up flap." Robbie Murray. Shop was built in 1896. Acquired by House of Fraser group, 1949.
AYR. Kilmarnock Equitable Cooperative Society, Main Street. "The store .. had, certainly in the 1950s, a cash railway running to a raised central cashier's station in the centre of the store. I have clear memories of this as a child, and from your illustrations believe it was probably a Rapid Wire System. My strongest recollection is that it employed some sort of catapult triggered by pulling a hanging rod with a handle, not unlike an old fashioned toilet pull!" Robbie Murray
B'ONESS, W.Loth. "We got asked about old-time shopping where the customer's money was put into overhead tin cans... The one I remember from my early boyhood was in Bo'ness, West Lothian... The shop I knew had a U-shaped counter with the entrance door in the open end of the U. Most of the U was counter display, with assistants behind it, but one top end of the U terminated inside a caged office." Dudley Mall website
BONNYBRIDGE, Stir. Scottish Wholesale Co-op. Sturtevant pneumatic tube system with 11 stations. Sturtevant letter of 13/8/29
BUCKIE, Banff. McKays. "I can remember back when I was a wee girl probably not even started school yet. We regularly visited my Gran who stayed in Buckie Banffshire in Scotland. On my regular visits to Buckie I would go down town shopping with my Gran, she would allow me to call into 'McKays' a fantastic shop it had everything. I was always fascinated by the overhead cables that carried money in devices that whizzed above my head back and forth from the tills to the security protected cash desk, I would watch them for ages hypnotised by the sounds and the ambiance of a busy store." Annette Loban website. Also Glynis Flood.
BURNBANK, Lan. Burnbank Co-op. Sturtevant pneumatic tube system with 13 stations. Sturtevant letter of 13/8/29
CLYDEBANK, Dunbar. Co-op, Alexander Street. "They took yer money and put it in some sort of tube and fired it away somewhere then it came back with yer change and stamps." "The Croc" in posting to Welcome to Clydebank Discussion Forum, 11/4/03
COATBRIDGE, Lan. Co-op (drapery), Bank Street. "Here the transport medium was a semi-circular track formed from wooden rods and a vertical hoist at the sales counter. The cash was placed inside a hollow ball, which unscrewed into two halves. The ball was hoisted up onto the track and off it went. The track had points just like railway tracks. These allowed the cash desk to divert the ball to the appropriate sales counter without the need for separate tracks over the full distance. " Monklands Online
COATBRIDGE, Lan. Hendersons, Sunnyside. "The frontage was made up of five large plate-glass display windows and two doors... From an elevated cash desk there ran a taught wire, at just below ceiling level, to each sales counter. Along this wire ran a little trolley onto which a "cup" screwed. This cup was used to send cash and receipts back and forward over the heads of the customers. It was propelled by means of a spring loaded catapult arrangement at each end. The assistant placed the cash and the sales slip into the cup, screwed it into place on the trolley then pulled the release handle and whoosh, off went the cash to Morag (Mollison, if I remember correctly) in the cash desk." Monklands Online
COATBRIDGE, Lan. Morris (drapers), Main Street. "I believe a similar system [to the Co-op] was in use at Morris the Drapers .Monklands Online
DUNDEE. T.S. Blakeney & Sons, Nethergate and Whitehall Street. "Four floors .. are to be used for business purposes. Adjoining the boiler, and in the corner next the street, is a powerful water engine, with air pumps and capacious air tanks, necessary for the working of the electro-pneumatic cash-carrying apparatus, fitted up throughout the whole premises, the invention of Mr W.H.Blakeney. This is the only house in Scotland in which such a skilful contrivance, vastly superior to the cash railway, has been introduced." Dundee Courier & Argus, 3 Oct. 1887
• "Blakeney's automatic electro-pneumatic cash-carrier. The Messrs Blakeney have completed the erection of electro-pneumatic tubes through the whole of their extensive premises in Whitehall Street, Dundee. The system adopted for sending and receiving is pressure and vacuum respectively - that is, a cash carrier is placed in the tube at the counter and drawn to the desk by vacuum and returned by pressure. From each department of the warehouse - and there are about ten - there are two tubes, all of which converge in the central desk, placed at an elevation of about seven feet from the ground floor. At the end of each tube is an electric apparatus, consisting of a concave spring placed in such a position that the bend protrudes into the tube. On the carrier being inserted the spring completes the electric current of tht particular tube with the bell and number at the desk. The girl in charge, operating the 'three-way transformer' causes a vacuum, which allows the atmospheric pressure to force the carrier towards the desk. On the carrier arriving there it closes the apreture through which the the air has been passing. A slight hissing noise, caused by the in-rushing air, then ceases, and the attendant is made aware that the carrier has arrived. To return the carrier to the counter, it is simply pushed into the tube at the desk end, the aperture closed, and again, through the medium of the 'transformer', pressure is put on, and the carrier is almost instantaneously in the hands of the salesman... The power is generated by a 2-horse gas engine, which actuates pressure and vacuum pumps. These fill and empty two steel 'containers' to the extent of 10 lb. on the pressure and about 7 lb. on the vacuum... The Messrs Blakeney consider that they will effect a saving of about £30 a year, as they will now be able to dispense with the whole of the cash boys... The Messrs Blakeney have also fitted up a clever system of speaking tubes... Both systems have been devised by Mr William Blakeney... Mr Blakeney has patented both systems." Dundee People's Journal, 3 Dec. 1887, p.4
DUNDEE. James Dawson (drapers), 30,31,32 and 34 Reform Street. "I advertised a fortnight ago my intention of having the automatic cash railway in full working order. This has now been accomplished and I cordially invite inspection." Dundee Advertiser, 24 Nov. 1885, p.2
DUNDEE. Draffens, corner of Nethergate and Whitehall Street. Pneumatic tube system at time of WW2. Rev. Robert Bell
DUNDEE. Menzies, Albion House, 40 Nethergate. "Every one wishes Mr. Menzies good luck today when he launches out in his new venture at Albion House... The cash railway is by a single wire along which the money runs noiselessly to the cash-box." Evening Telegraph (Angus), 13 Nov. 1903
DUNDEE. Peebles Bros., 25 West Port. "The unprecedented and rapidly-increasing success which has attended the Whitehall Street establishment of Messrs Peebles Brothers, grocers and teamen, induced the firm .. to open a branch in the west end of the city... The feature of the establishment is the cash railway, which is Lamson's rapid wire system, being the only instance in which this has yet been adopted in the city. According to this system there is a single wire sloping upwards towards the cashier.. the box in returning descending of course bi its own weight." Dundee Courier & Argus, 13 Mar. 1891
DUNDEE. Smith Bros., Murraygate. "Young lady (pref. exper.) for Lamson cash tubes... Apply personally, or in writing, to Secretary, Smith Bros. (Dundee), Ltd., Murraygate, Dundee." Dundee Evening Telegraph, 19 Sep. 1949, p.6
DUNDEE. James Spence, Reform Street. "The invention is called the Lamson Cash Railway... A number of these railways have been introduced into Glasgow warehouses, and three large establishments in Edinburgh, and to our enterprising local firm of Messrs James Spence & Co. is due the credit of being the first north of the Forth to introduce the invention. Workmen from the Company's factory in America have been engaged for several days in putting up the lines, and this morning the system, which pervades every department on the ground floor, as well as on the floor above, will be in operation... At the stations, fifteen in number, elevators are attached to the down track. " Dundee Courier & Argus, 11 Nov. 1885.
EDINBURGH. C & A, Princes Street. Pneumatic tube system. (Catherine in posting to Forth 2 Message Board, 30/9/04)
EDINBURGH. "The big Co-op", Gorgie Road. Cash carrier. (Ned in posting to uk.people.silversurfers newsgroup, 10/11/03)
EDINBURGH. Jenners, Princes Street . Pneumatic tube system.
Posting to soc.history.what-if newsgroup, 10/12/02.
"Jenner's and Patrick Thomson's and other stores had the common Lamson Paragon in which cash & chitty went in a cartridge from counter to counting-house and back via vacuum tubes. All this exposed plumbing did nothing for the shop's decor. The noise of cartridges hurtling along and bursting out into receival baskets was part of the department store atmosphere then. Edinburgh History website
EDINBURGH. Leith Provident Co-operative Society, "In 1968, Leith Provident's 1911 department store on Great Junction Street was still operating a then unusual overhead wire system that transported a customer's payment and dividend number from the sales assistant to the cashier, returning change and receipt." Wikipedia article for Scotmid
EDINBURGH. Leith Provident Co-operative Society, Granton Road. Cash ball system in 1940s. Douglas Beath
EDINBURGH. Renton & Co., 12-14 Princes Street. "The rebuilding of the premises occupied by Renton & Company, Princes' Street, is now completed... The most notable features are .. introduction of the Lamson cash railway." Fife Herald, 10 Jun. 1885, p.1
EDINBRUGH. Patrick Thomsons, the Bridges. Pneumatic tube system in early 1970s. Posting to soc.history.what-if newsgroup, 10/12/02. See also Jenners above.
EDINBURGH. Turnbull & Wilson (drapers), 60-61 South Bridge. "Plan & elevation showing layout of pneumatic tubes. Titled: By the Lamson Pneumatic Tube Co. Ltd. Insc: 'Turnbull & Wilson. Drapers. S. Bridge, Edinburgh. 2 1/4 Cash Tube System. 11 Stns. Drg. No. 27677". Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland database
FALKIRK, Stirl. Bishops (dept. store). Cash carrier in 1950s. Pat Egerton
FALKIRK, Stirl. Co-op, Kirk Wynd (now Clydesdale Bank). Pneumatic tube system. Posting to soc.history.what-if newsgroup, 10/12/02
FRASERBURGH, Aber. Benzie & Miller, 15-32 Mid Street. Lamson pneumatic tube system installed in 1934. Satiche website.
FRASERBURGH, Aber. Maitland, 23 Cross Street. "Maitland's department store in Fraserburgh had money tubes like that!" Facebook: Fiona-Jane Brown
GLASGOW. Allans (shoes), Gordon Street. Pneumatic tube system. Davie posting to Talking Scot forum, 28/10/05
GLASGOW. Arnotts, Jamaica Street. First cash carrier in Scotland, installed in 1885. Described in great detail by the Glasgow Herald. Shop closed in March 1994. Glasgow Herald 3 Mar. 1994
GLASGOW. Buist, Cunningham & Co., 10-16 Jamaica Street. "Reopening of the Grand Central warehouse... Messrs Buist, Cunningham & Co... have opened their remodelled warehouse... A new installation of the cash railway has been erected." Falkirk Herald and Linlithgow Journal, 21 Sep. 1895, p.8
GLASGOW. A butcher, Jamaica Street. Gipe system. A correspondent
GLASGOW. Co-op, Bothwellhaugh. Wire system. Iwitness website
GLASGOW. Co-op, Govan. "They sent your money upstairs to the cash office in a kind of vacuum thing." Annette M. posting to Talking Scot forum, 28/10/05
GLASGOW. Co-op, Snowden Street/Rutherglen Road, Gorbals. "I clearly remember going to that Co-op shop with my ma and standing in amazement as the money my ma gave for her messages was put into a wee kind of cup and it was attached to overhead wires and the person who had served us then gave it a nudge and it would whizz on these overhead wires up to the cashier who was sitting at a till above everyone... I always thought in my youthful eyes that this wee cup whizzing about wasslike something out of a space book comic and it reminded me of the space ships in 'Flash Gordon'. Danny Gill. Emah Roo: Sooside memories (Lulu, 2016), p. 40
GLASGOW. Co-op, Thornliebank. Wire system. WEA Salt of the Earth website
GLASGOW. Copeland & Lye (dept. store), Sauchiehall Street. "It was one of several large stores in the city to use a pneumatic cash transfer system which was fascinating to watch in operation. The sales person would write up your purchase and then enclose the details together with your payment in a cylindrical canister which was then loaded into a tube and conveyed at high speed on a cushion of air to the cashier’s office. After a brief delay, the canister would be returned to the sales counter in another tube, complete with the receipt and any change." Photograph of exterior at Glasgow History website
GLASGOW. Dallas, 166-170 Cowcaddens Street. "I remember well using the Vacuum Tubes when I worked in a store called Dallas's at the Coocaddens hunners eh years ago. You would put your sales slip and the money inside the tube, turn it so that it closed and then WOOOSSHHHH - up the pipe it went. It was terrible on a Saturday cos you had to wait ages for it to come back down." Annette R. posting to Talking Scot forum, 28/10/05
GLASGOW. Lyons (toy shop), Sauchiehall street. "The ground floor, where the tiny overhead railway bearing cash from the counter to the cashier was a diversion in itself." R. Trollope. Starting from Glasgow. Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998, p.46
GLASGOW. A. Massey & Sons, 430 Springburn Road. "Massey's was right across the road from the Co-op department store..I can still see these cash tubes whizzing overhead and whizzing all the way back with the change." Reminiscences of Springburn
GLASGOW. Pettigrew & Stephens (dept. store), 181-193 Sauchiehall Street. Opened 1901. Seven floors. Pneumatic tube system. Moss and Turton
GLASGOW. Watt Brothers, 119 Sauchiehall
Street. Lamson pneumatic tube system "removed during a refit a few years
ago". Photo of removed terminals Andrew
"I used to work with the vacuum tubes to the 'counting house' as Watt Brothers grandly termed it... and that was only in the 1980's." Wilma M. posting to Talking Scot forum, 28/10/05
GLASGOW. Walter Wilson (Colosseum), Jamaica Street. Second cash carrier
in Scotland, also installed in 1885. Moss and Turton. "Following Walter's death, the Jamaica Street emporium was bought over, first by Dallas's, then by Fraser's, before eventually becoming part of their neighbouring Paisley's department store." Evening Times
• "It need hardly be said that every known device for expediting barter is introduced into the business, and the latest of all, the Lamson Cash Railway, can be seen in full." Wilson, Arthur. Walter Wilson, merchant, justice of the peace and magistrate of the City of Glasgow, 1849-1917, p.34
HAWICK, Roxb . Hawick Co-operative Store Co., 63-67 High Street. Lamsons claimed that the Co-op's system "fitted by their own joiner" infringed Lamson's patent - see Court Cases.
• "Shoppers collected stamps which could be exchanged for goods, and the various departments communicated with each other via pneumatic tubes." British Listed Buildings website." A striking, late-19th-century, French Renaissance-style former department store." Closed in 1987 and sold to developers.
HUNTLY, Aberdeenshire. Reid & Gordon. Pneumatic tube system. M. Anderson-Smith
INVERNESS. John Young, Union Street. At the opening on 11 April 1935, "Mrs Mackenzie [wife of the Provost] ceremonially despatched the first cash carrier by the pneumatic tube - the first such installation in the Highlands - to the cashier's desk." Inverness Courier, 4 Jan. 2003 - Old Inverness.
KILMARNOCK, Ayrshire. Mason Murphy (furnishers), 79-80 Portland Street. Pneumatic tube system. At least 15 tubes are visible at one point. (Lindsay Lennie)
KINROSS. John & J.H.Sands (hardware), 58 High Street. A rare surviving example of a cash lift in the UK, in use from about 1920 to 1988 and still in working order. Stuart Skinner
KIRKCALDY, Fife. Cameron, 230 Links. "Articles for sale... Cash carrier, running on single wire, 2-station, 24ft., in perfect order, with all fittings." Fife Free Press & Kirkcaldy Guardian, 13 May 1922, p.1
KIRKCALDY, Fife. Co-op. "Kirkcaldy Co-op was an imposing emporium, the nearest thing to a department store... Its most impressive feature, to me, was its pneumatic cash system... This system always reminded me of a mouth organ with its alternative sucking and blowing, and the whole operation was the height of technical sophistication." Anne Ewing. Leaving the land (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2011), p.160
KIRKCALDY, Fife. Graftons (ladies' outfitters). "The money went in a tube system and upstairs to the cash office." "Lindalou40" posting to to Daily Mail chat, 11 Aug. 2005
KIRKCALDY, Fife. William Low, 42 High Street. "The new electric cash railway... Wm. Low & Co., the national grocers, have pleasure in announcing that they have completed the above arrangements.. at their Kirkcaldy establishment." Fife Free Press, 12 Dec. 1891, p.5 (If this was really an electric system is a very rare example in Britain.)
KIRKINTILLOCH, E. Dunb. Alexanders. "The management of Alexandres Stores .. have just installed at their Kirkintilloch premises a cash carrier system... The carriers travel on a single wire, and are propelled to and from the cash desk by a catapultic process." Kirkintilloch Herald, 19 Aug. 1908
KIRKINTILLOCH, E. Dunb . Kirkintilloch Equitable Co-op. Sturtevant pneumatic tube system with 11 stations. Sturtevant letter of 13/8/29
LAURIESTON, Kirkud.. Co-op. Pneumatic tube (?) system in 1950s. "The cashier sat in an elevated glass cubicle." Pat Egerton
LEVENMOUTH, Fife. Co-op. "For those to young to know about the automatic change system in the Coop In the grocery dept. there was an overhead wire system where the clerk put your bill and money in a small container this was sent to the cashier cage and any change that was due was returned the same way." Big Rab in posting to East Fife Football Club forum
LOCHGELLY, Fife. Co-op, Bank Street. "Cash transfer pulley system". Lochgelly Memories
• "Smoke was now issuing from the drapery shop as well, carried through it is presumed by the openings in the wall for the cash railway which acted as an air course for the fire." Cowdenbeath & Lochgelly Times & Advertiser, 16 March 1910
MARKINCH, Fife. Markinch Co-operative Society. "War-time vacancies... Cashier (Lamson cash system) ... Applications .. to be sent to Managing Secretary, 56 High Street, Markinch. Dundee Courier, 6 Apr. 1942, p.1
PAISLEY, Renf. Co-op, Springbank Road. "When the order was completed the total was added up and the cash placed inside a small Cylinder which then whizzed overhead on a Pulley across to the Cashier Kiosk in the corner." Lad O' Pairts website
• "We didn't have a machine that catapulted money up to the cash desk [in the dairy], though, it was only in the bigger grocers next door." Nancy posting to Talking Scot forum, 31/10/05
PERTH. St John's Drapery House. "Mr W.Menzies.. yesterday opened St John's Drapery House at No.4 St John's Place. The premises.. have been thoroughly remodelled .. a complete system of cash railway being introduced. Dundee Courier & Argus, 27 Mar. 1890
PORT GLASGOW, Renf. Co-op. Rapid Wire system about 1961. Posting to soc.genealogy.uk+ireland newsgroup, 25 Nov. 1996
SALTCOATS, Ayr. Co-op, Vernon Street. "Little cups, into which your payment was put, were screwed into a 'carrier' on a pulley rope. This little contraption was sent on its way to a centrally placed cashier by the pull of a rope. Your change came back in a short while along with your receipt documenting your co-op number." Betty Woodland in post to Threetowners website, 19/11/2000.
STIRLING. McAree Bros, 53/59 King Street. A lease was signed in 1934 for a Rapid Wire system at 35 shillings p.a. for each station. In 1937 this was replaced by a new system with chromium-ebony finish. A "Junior" pneumatic tube system was also installed powered by two 3/4 HP motors at £6.16.6 per station rental. In 1955, due to increasing business, Lamsons quoted for the two Junior units to be replaced by a Lamson 1001 X 3 stage turbine. The cost was £197, or a new leasing agreement at 15 guineas for each of the two stations. Mrs Young
indicates systems which are still there (as far as I know) though they may not be working.