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The Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway was Incorporated on 26 May 1826; and it was ceremonially opened on 27 September 1831. It was built to the, so called, Scotch gauge of 4 ft 6 in. The engineers were Thomas Grainger and John Miller from Edinburgh.
It was extended to Coatbridge in 1843; and in 1844 it became the Glasgow, Garnkirk and Coatbridge Railway.
In addition to the original 26 May 1826 Act of Parliament, to raise £28,949 (Pound sterling) of joint stock capital, a further three Acts were obtained:
Its main function was intended to be the transportation of coal to Glasgow; however it also provided regular goods and passenger services.
It was linked the Monkland and Kirkintilloch Railway, at Gartsherrie, near the Gargill Colliery. The chief sponsors include Charles Tennant and Co, who had their St. Rollox chemical works at Townhead, Glasgow, adjacent to the Monkland Canal. They wished to use it to import coal in competition against the Monkland Canal, which was unable to transport sufficient coal for their needs.
On 24 July 1854 parts of the line were vested with the Caledonian Railway; and final amalgamation occurred on 29 June 1865.
On 3 August 1846 an Act of Parliament was obtained for the Caledonian Railway to buy it. The company was not, however dissolved until 2 August 1880.