The History of Springburn Railway Works

Hi, I’m Ross Maynard. And this is the history of the railway works in Springburn in Glasgow. The parishes Springburn was incorporated into the city of Glasgow in 1872. At that time, Springburn was the location of the world’s largest concentration of railway carriage and locomotive works. And this is a story I will tell in this video. I hope you enjoy it. This is the Google map for Springburn today. It’s a typical city suburb with a population of around 12,000. And it’s a mainly residential area with a large retail Park and many small businesses. Why did it become a major hub for roadway manufacture? Because it was in on the railway revolution pretty much from the start. Let’s have a quick look at the timeline of events. The forth and Clyde canal arrived just to the northwest of Springburn in 1775. It brought goods and minerals in from the east of the country. But the real price for spring burn was the monklands Canal completed in 1794. It brought coal into Glasgow from the rich land extra coal fields. The availability of cheap coal brought industry to the area and specifically Charles tenants chemical works soon to be the largest in the world. In 1799. The conquer can Glasgow railway terminated in Springburn in 1831. Bringing the price of coal down further. its arrival in the area was no coincidence as we shall see. In 1842, the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway was opened. Countless locomotive works was built to provide engines and carriages for this line and was opened in 1841. It was the first of the locomotive and carriage works in the area. The conquer can Glasgow railway was leased to the Caledonian railway in 1846. Opening Springbrook Up to the whole rail network of the Caledonian the Caledonian railway was built the famous and Rolex locomotive works and carriage and wagon works. In 1856. Springburn became a center of excellence for locomotive and carriage construction, and the Hyde Park works opened in 1861. With the Atlas works opening in 1888. But Springburn was never a wealthy part of town. And I will tell you, the Barony pourhouse later in this video to hear then is a map of Springburn in 1795. It’s reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland, as all the maps in this video are. And this site is a great resource for old maps have a look at it. We can see there an area called rollex, which I’ve underlined in red, and it lies on the monklands Canal, which I’ve marked in blue. Notice also some sort of manor house called cow layers. In 50 years there’ll be a massive railway works. But in 1795, there is no industry at all in Springburn. It’s not even a place in its own right. Just a few farms and settlements scattered about. things begin to change for the spring bone area with the arrival of the forth and Clyde canal. constructions this privately funded canal was approved by Parliament in 1768. The original idea was to build a ship canal, but that proved too expensive. The canal runs from the Firth of Forth at a place now called Grange mouth, which is 24 miles from Edinburgh. And the canal arrived to the northwest of Springburn in 1775. The canal brought merchants and goods to the area and that means jobs and business opportunities. government funds allowed the forth and Clyde canal to be completed to bowling in 1790. And the canal was bought by the Caledonian railway in 1867 and nationalized in 1948. And sadly closed in 1963. Thankfully, 84 million pounds of Millennium funding allowed the canal to reopen as a leisure resource in 2001. Even more important to the growth of Springburn was the monklands Canal, since it comes right into the heart of the area and brought cheap coal. Demand for coal in Glasgow was rising as the Industrial Revolution took hold forth and clay canal could only provide limited supplies, since it does not pass through good coal producing areas. transport of coal from the rich land extra coal fields by horse and cart was expensive. The answer was to build a canal and work started on the monklands Canal in 1770. managed by James Watt, the famous steam engine builder. He experienced many difficulties in construction, and left the project in 1773 to pursue more profitable ambitions. The canal finally rich coat bridge in 1794 and the price of coal in Glasgow dropped dramatically. Sadly, the monkland Canal was closed in 1954 and the motorway now runs over much of its route. There were section of the canal does remain in Coatbridge. The availability of cheap coal and Springburn attracted one of Scotland’s most industrious entrepreneurs. Charles Tennant was born in Asia in 1768. His family were farmers, and they knew Robert Burns. In fact, Charles has mentioned in one of his letters, Charles Tennant was apprentice to a master Weaver, became interested in the bleaching of textiles. He left his apprenticeship to pursue his dream and painted bleaching powder in 1799. With Investment Partners, he immediately bought land on the monkland Canal at Springburn and built a factory. He became rich, and by the 1830s his chemical works was the largest in the world. covering over 100 acres and employing 1000 staff. Charles tenant was also a driving force behind the great Reform Act of 1832, which extended voting rights and radically reformed parliamentary seats. And tenant was also one of the early promoters of steam railways as we shall see shortly. tenant died in 1838. And the chemical works closed in 1964. It was then part of ici high rise flats were built on the site in the 1960s. But these have now been demolished, and modern housing has been built on the site. Charles tenant was the force behind the creation of the gong Kirk and Glasgow Railway, one of the first railways in Scotland to use steam engines. By 1832. Tenants chemical works was consuming 30,000 tons of coal a year, keen to reduce the cost of supply. He became the chief sponsor of the conquer contract. corral way, which would bring coal from coke bridge and the coal fields around it directly to Glasgow and coincidentally passing his factory. Construction started in 1827 and the line opened in 1831 introduced a Robert Stevenson built locomotive in June 1831, only one months behind the monkland and kirkintilloch Railway, which had the first steam locomotive in Scotland, and actually joins with the ganker can Glasgow railway close to Coatbridge. The Ganga and Glasgow railway originally terminated at a Depo next to Charles tenants chemical works, but it was extended to Buchanan Street Station in 1849. services were not moved to Glasgow Queen Street Station until 1966 when the chemistry station was closed and demolished. The Concord in Glasgow railway was leased to the Caledonian railway 1846 giving them access to Glasgow that they so desperately designed. The line was acquired by the Caledonian railway in 1868. passenger services still use the root of the line to cope bridge fire steps 190 years of continuous service. Time for another map I think, and this is Thomas Kyle’s map of Glasgow from 1842. We see the monkland canal and blue at the bottom, and Charles Tennant’s chemical works right next to the track of the gang Kirk and Glasgow railway in red. At the time, that line terminated in Springburn. The red line in the center of the map is the extension of the Ganga Glasgow line, which was not completed at the time of this map, and which would take the line to a Terminus called Buchanan Street Station in 1849. The lines Terminus was moved to Queen Street Station in May In 66, alongside the Edinburgh and Glasgow line, the site of Buchanan Street Station is now owned by Glasgow Caledonian University. But the building on the site has the headquarters of scotrail until 1994. Last time I visited a few years ago, there was still a Network Rail office on one floor of the building. The red line on the left of the map is the Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line, which enters a tunnel in Springburn through to its Terminus at Glasgow Queen Street Station. More on that shortly. The Edinburgh to Glasgow railway was authorized by Act of Parliament in 1838 and opened in 1842. It is 46 miles long, running from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Edinburgh Haymarket it was extended to Waverly station in Edinburgh in 1846. The original journey took two and a half hours with 10 intermediate station stops. The journey now takes around 15 Two minutes, with up to five stops depending on the time of the train. There are trains every 15 minutes in each direction. Passenger demand for the line was three times that expected. And by 1850, the company needed 58 locomotives and 216 carriages. The incline from cow layers in Springburn to Queen Street Station was so steep that cable haulage had to be used until 1909. When steam engines were finally powerful enough to manage the slope. The Edinburgh and Glasgow railway company built countless works in Springburn to produce locomotives, carriages and wagons for the line. That works was opened in 1841. It was taken over along with the Edinburgh to Glasgow line by the North British Railway Company in 1865. And the works was nationalized in 1948. During the Second World War, countless works produce gliders for the D day landings. The site closed In 1994, and is now an industrial park, including a large whiskey bond. The former sidings for the works are the site of a Network Rail signaling Center. This map of Glasgow of 1859 by Joseph Swan shows the monkland Canal marked in blue. And Charles tenants chemical works circled in red sun Rolex locomotives works would be newly built at this time, and it’s circled in green, with a ganker Glasgow railway running beside it. By this time the line was leased by the Caledonian railway. Countless works is off the map to the north along the line of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway. This first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1859 gives a nice overview of the area at the time. We see countless works at the top of the map on the red and Britta Glasgow railway line. We see the monkland Canal which I’ve marked in blue, and Charles Tennant’s chemical works at the nexus between the canal and the red Kanka to Glasgow railway. So Rolex railway works is also marked. Notice also the Barony pourhouse circled in red. Let’s take a quick sidestep into its history. barony pourhouse called Barnhill. poolhouse in some documents, opened in 1853 and had 160 beds. able bodied men living there were obliged to make up to 350 bundles of firewood per day, or break 500 weights of stones per day to earn their bed and grow and I’m sure it was grew, female inmates worked in the laundry or on Sewing work. The workhouse was reconstructed in 1904 and became the largest in Scotland. The site was operated as a care home for vagrants until 1978 and was demolished in 1988. The barony was also connected with the Woodley lunatic and pauper asylum, which lies next To the Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line at lenzi. It opened in 1875 and by 1915 held 1300 patients. The hospital closed in 1992. We saw some roll ups locomotive works marked on the 1859 maps. There’s some Rolex locomotive works and some Rolex carriage and wagon works were built in 1856 by the Caledonian Railway, the works lay on the root of the ganker can Glasgow railway which at that time, was operated by the Caledonian railway. symbolics became the main northern loco and carriage works of the London Midland and Scottish railway in 1923 and employs 4000 people at that time. It became part of British Rail in 1948, and has been owned by several private operators since the 1990s. The site was largely demolished in the 1990s and now houses a Costco warehouse. A huge test Go supermarket and other retailers. The small remainder of the sentronics works a maintenance Depo closed in 2019. It was the last remaining railway works in Springburn. By 1900 Springburn was the world’s largest concentration of railway locomotive and carriage works. This Ordnance Survey map of 1900 shows some relics marked with the red circle. Cow allez works is marked with a light blue circle and tenant’s chemical works is marked with a green circle. I’ve also marked the Barony poolhouse with the black circle. But this map also shows the two other great railway works of the area. The Hyde Park works is marked in orange and the Atlas works in purple. Let’s talk about their history now. Walter Nielsen and James Mitchell opened the factory in Hyde Park Street next to the river Clyde in Glasgow in 1837. they manufacture to marine and stationary engines spotting opportunities in the rail industry. They began to manufacture steam locomotives in 1843 and move their factory to Springburn in 1861. The Hyde Park works was amalgamated into the North British locomotive company in 1903 and was nationalized in 1948. The site closed in 1964 and Glasgow Calvin College now stands on the site. The Clyde locomotive works it was formed in 1884 by a former partner in the Hyde Park works. The works was virtually next door to their competitor. The site was acquired by sharp stewarton company in 1888. And they renamed it the Atlas works. Sharp Stewart and company had been building locomotives in Manchester since the 1830s. But move to Springburn to be at the center. locomotive building in the UK. The company had built 5000 locomotives by the time it was amalgamated with the Hyde Park works into the North British locomotive company in 1903. The Atlas site closed in 1923 and is now an industrial estate. Now we jump forward to 1937. And the Ordnance Survey map here shows Springburn booming. Some relics works circled in red is vast, as is colares works in blue. Hyde Park works is circled in orange. Atlas works is still marked on the map and I’ve circled it in purple. Although the locomotive works would have shot by this time, another company must have taken over the site. I’ve also marked the tenants chemical works in green, and we see that the Barony pourhouse, now called Barnhill hospital has greatly expanded by this time. Time for today. Last maps, and I’m not going to circle the locations on this Ordnance Survey map from 1957. You should know their whereabouts by now. But we can see that countless works and some rocks are still very much operational. Hyde Park works was nearing closure By this time, as was Charles tenants chemical works and bonhill Hospital is still clearly operational to the interesting thing about this map for me is Buchanan Street Station, marked as the terminus for the roadway to Coatbridge. Buchanan Street Station operated until 1966, serving not only Coatbridge along the former GM cook and Glasgow line, but also trains to Sterling and Aberdeen. services were moved into Glasgow Queen Street Station in 1966 when Buchanan Street Station was demolished. This final slide shows the modern aerial mapper Springburn. It’s from Bing Maps and it’s copyright Microsoft The site of Charles tenants chemical works circled in red, is currently derelict awaiting a new housing development. symbolics works in orange is now a vast retail site. Hyde Park locomotive works has been replaced by Glasgow Calvin College, circled in light blue, and the Atlas works in yellow is an industrial park bonhill Hospital is also gone, replaced by a housing settlement marked in dark blue colares is also an industrial park, dominated by a larger whiskey bond. However, there is a Network Rail signaling Center at the edge of the green circle and the monkland Canal lies under the main motorway. The industrial heritage of Springburn is long gone, replaced by housing and light industries more relevant to the 21st century. It’s sad in a way but all things must change. I’m sure that the work conditions in these railway works were very difficult, and the noise levels horrendous. The men who worked there probably didn’t live into their 70s and beyond as retirees do now. Perhaps it’s for the best that they’re gone. And to close, I just want to mention the sites that I’ve used to create this video and there are copyright restrictions. The main site I’ve used for all the mapping is the National Library of Scotland. This is a brilliant resource for old maps, and the mapping can be used for non commercial purposes. under Creative Commons By Attribution rules. Rail map online is useful to identify the roots of old railways, and rail scott.co.uk offers a wealth of information about our railway and industrial heritage. The other sites listed may be of use to you too. I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. Thank you very much for watching. Goodbye.