Glasgow Works

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Inside the St. Rollox Works, 1982
St Rollox Works and Depot, 1948

Glasgow Works, formerly the St Rollox Works, is a railway rolling stock heavy maintenance and repair works established in the 1850s in the Glasgow district of Springburn by the Caledonian Railway Company, and known locally as 'the Caley'.

Ownership of the works passed to the LMS in the 1920s and then to British Rail in the 1940s, with the size of the works reduced in the 1980s under British Rail Engineering Limited management. It was sold as part of the privatisation of British Rail in 1995 and after a number of ownership changes was most recently operated by Mutares-owned subsidiary Gemini Rail under a lease from the landlord, Hansteen Holdings. It has been closed and marketed for sale since July 2019.

History[edit]

Caledonian Railway[edit]

St. Rollox House was originally the drawing office for the works, and is now used as offices by a charity

St Rollox Locomotive Works and St Rollox Carriage & Wagon Works were built in 1856 in Springburn, an area in the north-east of Glasgow, Scotland, for the Caledonian Railway, which had moved away from its works at Greenock to Springburn.[1] The new works was built by the Caledonian Railway's locomotive superintendent Robert Sinclair near to the chemical works of Charles Tennant on the north bank of the Monkland Canal and adjacent to the site of the St Rollox station on the Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway, one of the first railways in Scotland. The works and the terminus station was named after the nearby parish church of St Roche. The Caledonian Railway had previously acquired the Glasgow, Garnkirk and Coatbridge Railway in 1846, extending the line west to their new Glasgow terminus at Buchanan Street railway station in 1849, now the site of Glasgow Caledonian University. The works was extended eastwards in 1864 and 1870, before being fully reconstructed by Dugald Drummond from 1882 to designs by Robert Dundas, which forms the remaining works buildings on the site today. The works was served by 30 sidings to the east and was capable of building carriages, wagons and locomotives, rather than just maintenance. The red brick works offices facing Springburn Road was also built at this time. Among the locomotives produced for the Caledonian Railway were the Cardean and Dunalastair Classes.

London, Midland and Scottish Railway[edit]

After World War I, the Railways Act 1921 also known as the Grouping Act, merged the Caledonian Railway Company into the newly created London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). St Rollox became the main works of the Northern Division of the LMS but ceased building new locomotives by 1930. The final batches of main line locomotives built on site were lot 11-30 LMS class 4F 0-6-0 freight engines numbers 4177-4206 completed in 1925, and lot 45 comprising 10 locomotives of the same class completed in 1928. In 1929 wagon repairs were moved to the former Glasgow and South Western Railway's Barassie Works, leaving St. Rollox as the locomotive and carriage repair centre.

War work[edit]

During World War II, St Rollox joined in the war effort, producing, among other things, Airspeed Horsa gliders for the Normandy landing airborne assault. The nearby Cowlairs railway works also produced 200,000 bearing shells for Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. The Springburn-based North British Locomotive Company was also involved in wartime production.

Monument to those that built locomotives at St Rollox, by Jack Sloan in 1995.

British Rail[edit]

Steam and diesel locomotives on display at the Glasgow Works open day, 1981

After World War II, the railways were nationalised by the Transport Act 1947 into British Railways. The Scottish network was reorganised as the Scottish Region (ScR), one of six new regions of British Railways. The St. Rollox works was designated as the primary Scottish repair centre for carriages and locomotives, as well as undertaking work for the London Midland Region of British Railways. In 1968, the nearby Cowlairs railway works, that had been previously operated as the main Scottish works for the North British Railway (NBR) then the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), closed and merged into St. Rollox under consolidation measures to form British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL) in 1969, with the loss of over 1,000 jobs in the Springburn area. In 1972 the site was renamed from St Rollox Works to the Glasgow Works.[2] In 1986, a major downsizing of the works was announced by the Transport Secretary Nicholas Ridley, with the loss of 1,206 jobs out of a workforce of 2,400, and a large section of the carriage works becoming disused. The northern part of the site was occupied for a time during the 1980s and early 1990s by MC Metals, undertaking scrapping of old railway rolling stock.

Privatisation[edit]

After BREL was privatised in 1988, the site was kept in public ownership as a rail maintenance facility under British Rail Maintenance Limited (BRML) along with Eastleigh, Doncaster and Wolverton.[3] In 1995 BRML was privatised and the site was sold to a Babcock International/Siemens consortium along with the Wolverton site. During 1997 the disused part of the carriage works was demolished and surplus land was sold off to become the site of a large Tesco supermarket, which opened in 2001. A Costco, Lidl, new Springburn fire station and a Royal Mail sorting office were developed in the early 1990s to the north of the site on the former Sighthill Railfreight goods depot, which closed in 1981, forming the St. Rollox Retail Park.

In 2002 the remaining St. Rollox Works site was sold to Alstom, along with the Wolverton Works, which became the larger parent site of the operation. Alstom also sold the site to St. Modwen Properties in a sale-and-leaseback deal. In 2007, the lease to operate the site was taken over by RailCare Ltd.[4]

RailCare Ltd was placed in administration in July 2013.[5] In August 2013 the operating lease was taken over by Knorr-Bremse,[6] who in 2018 transferred it to Mutares and its new subsidiary, Gemini Rail. St Modwen's industrial property interests, including St. Rollox, were acquired by Hansteen Holdings in 2018.[7] The works latterly conducted component and rolling stock overhauls.[citation needed] Recent work included overhauls of Class 156, Class 158 and Class 320s for Abellio ScotRail.[8][9][10]

Closure[edit]

In December 2018, the planned closure of St. Rollox in July 2019 was announced by Gemini Rail and its German owner Mutares,[11][12] despite the site running at a profit, with the loss of over 200 jobs and centralisation of maintenance work at the company's larger works in Wolverton. The workforce led a campaign against the closure in concert with the Unite and RMT trade unions, lobbying both the UK and Scottish Governments to renationalise the works,[13][14] and putting forward several proposals to save the site from closure, even including a plan to commission the restoration of the Springburn-built South African Class GMA 4-8-2+2-8-4 ‘Springbok’ locomotive, in storage at Summerlee, Museum of Scottish Industrial Life in Coatbridge,[15][16] and local MP Paul Sweeney raised the matter at Theresa May’s final Prime Minister's Questions.[17] The workers held a rally as the final shift walked out after 163 years, on 26 July 2019.[18]

It was reported in January 2020 that Jeremy Hosking's Locomotive Services made an offer to the landlord Hansteen to purchase the St Rollox Works site for use as a heritage locomotive maintenance depot,[19] but it was later reported in February 2020 that agreement could not be reached with the landlord on a price for the site.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Library of Scotland Maps". Explore georeferenced maps. National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  2. ^ Vaughan, John (1981). BREL Locomotive Works. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Company. p. 67. ISBN 0860931099.
  3. ^ "BREL divided". The Railway Magazine. No. 1034. June 1987. p. 390.
  4. ^ Rail renovation businesses sold The Engineer 30 November 2006
  5. ^ Railcare enters administration Railway Gazette International 31 July 2013
  6. ^ Knorr-Bremse buys Railcare from administrators Railway Gazette International 27 August 2013
  7. ^ Knorr-Bremse to sell UK rail services businesses Railway Gazette International 6 August 2018
  8. ^ UK railway news round-up Railway Gazette International 6 July 2017
  9. ^ Refurbished ScotRail DMU rolled out Railway Gazette International 3 September 2015
  10. ^ ScotRail EMU refurbishment contract awarded Railway Gazette International 6 March 2017
  11. ^ "St Rollox: Fears over future of rail works after jobs advertised at sister site". Evening Times. 22 December 2018. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  12. ^ "The end of St Rollox railway yard?". The Herald. 23 February 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  13. ^ "MP demands nationalisation of historic St Rollox railway works to save 200 jobs". Glasgow Live. 10 February 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Calls to nationalise Glasgow rail depot in bid to save 200 jobs from axe". Daily Record. 10 February 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Historic Glasgow rail yard facing axe thrown locomotive lifeline by council". Daily Record. 7 July 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Old locomotive train at Summerlee museum could be restored to save railway yard". Daily Record. 16 July 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  17. ^ "As an MP, here's why my last question to Theresa May had nothing to do with Brexit". The Independent. 24 July 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  18. ^ "Scottish Government in firing line over failure to save jobs at historic railway yard". Daily Record. 21 July 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Steam train operator bids to re-open historic Springburn rail works". The Scotsman. 13 January 2020. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Developer rejects Hosking's bid for Springburn Works". Heritage Railway. 7 February 2020. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  • Larkin, E.J.; Larkin, J.G. (1988), The Railway Workshops of Great Britain 1823-1986, Macmillan Press

Literature[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hunt, John (26 March – 8 April 1997). "A works for the next century". Rail. No. 301. EMAP Apex Publications. pp. 22–26. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°52′19″N 4°13′55″W / 55.872°N 4.232°W / 55.872; -4.232