The Glasgow and District Subway was the most stylish and up to date way to travel.
It was only the third underground in the world after London – which was built in 1863 – and Budapest which opened only a couple of months before the Glasgow system.
It was a warm, clean and quiet way to travel compared to draughty horse-drawn trams.
John Messner, 34, from Stewarton, is curator of Transport and Tech- nology at the city's new Riverside Museum.
He said: "It was definitely a form of transport that most Glaswegians and most Scots hadn't been on unless they had been to London.
"The first day was incredibly popular. There were large queues at St Enoch, they had trouble with the crowds. You could get on for one penny and then stay on all day if you wanted, just like today."
Built to transport workers to the shipyards of Govan and Partick and to provide a convenient link between the city centre and the West End, the Subway attracted more than 9.6million passengers in its first year.
The Victorians could hop on the crimson and cream carriages, decorated in the colours of the Subway's private owners, Glasgow District Subway, in the West End and get off at the gothic style station at St Enoch, now a coffee shop, before climbing the ramp to St Enoch train station to travel directly to London.
Originally the Subway operated only one carriage, which could carry 42 people, in each direction on the circuit. To stop people staying on the Subway cars, staggered fares were introduced and there were staff on hand to check and collect tickets.
In 1922 the Glasgow Corporation bought the Subway and the carriages became dark red until 1977 when the Clockwork Orange trains, named after the book by Anthony Burgess due to their colour, were introduced.
At the Riverside, you can visit a recreation of an old Subway station on the museum's 'Main Street'.
From Victorian times, up until 1935 when the system was electrified, the trains were operated by a cable which pulled the carriages from station to station. John said: "The drivers weren't called drivers, they were called gripmen, because with the cable running underneath the carriages, basically to make them go there was a metal device – a grip –underneath the carriage which had to be operated."
To make the Subway cars move the gripman had to stand at the front of the carriage and operate two wheels.
One wheel grabbed hold of the moving cable below the carriage and carried it forward, the other wheel was a brake to stop the car at a station.
John added: "It sounds like you needed brute force, but you had to be very skilled, the gripman had to know exactly when the station was coming and know exactly when to release the grip and engage the break.
you could miss the station, you could stop short, if you turned the wheel too quickly the train would judder forward and the passengers would get a jolt.
"It was a pretty skilled job."
And even since the system was electrified, the station platforms are still built at the top of a sight rise, with an incline in the way in and decline on the way out to help the gripman slow down and gather speed.
The busiest time for the Subway was the late 1940s, shortly after the Second World War.
In the year 1948-49, 37 million people used the underground, despite the fact it only had two-carriage trains, unlike the modern three-carriage units in operation today.
And it was during the Second World War that one of the biggest events in the Subway's history took place.
In September 1940 a German bomb landed on Beith Street bowling green, south of the old Merkland Street Subway station in Partick.
It exploded in the soft ground just above the outer circle tunnel and the subway was forced to close for 131 days to make repairs.
John said: "This was one of the most dramatic events in the Subway's history because, other than the refurbishment in the 1970s, that was the longest spell when the Subway wasn't running, it was very dramatic and thankfully nobody was killed."
In 1977 the Subway was closed for three years for a complete makeover and upgrade.
Although the route of the twin tunnels remained unchanged, the carriages were replaced and the stations were refurbished to the standard that is familiar today.
John said: "Before modification, from reports, it was time for it to be updated. It was seen as a bit of a Victorian/ Edwardian throwback.
"If you looked at other subway systems in the 1970s – London and places like that – there was a lot more modern feel, so I think it was due a major upgrade."
ONE of the oldest
underground railways in
the world is celebrating
its 115th birthday.
And it is
the tunnels that the
Victorians travelled through.
In the first of three articles, MATTY
SUTTON looks at
why the 'Clockwork Orange' continues
to be a firm favourite
TOMORROW: WE MEET SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES HAVE BEEN CHANGED BY THE SUBWAY