St Rollox Works

Location type

Loco shed

Name and dates

St Rollox Works (1856-2019)

Opened on the Buchanan Street Extension (Caledonian Railway).


This is a railway works located in Springburn, north of Glasgow. It can 'carry out service, maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrades on all train types'. Traditionally it has been called 'The Caley' after the company who built it. 3,000 to 3,500 people worked there at its height.

The works is currently mothballed with its future very much in doubt.

It continues the tradition of railway works in Springburn, the former Locomotive Builder to the World. Other works in the Springburn area were Hyde Park Works [2nd], Atlas Works [2nd] and the Cowlairs Works. Today, a running depot exists at Eastfield TMD.

St Rollox was an established industrial area. On the north bank of the Monkland Canal was Tennant's 1799 St Rollox Chemical Works. The 1831 Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway terminated in this area, connecting the works to Monklands coal. The Buchanan Street Extension (Caledonian Railway) opened in 1849. Between the two lines was a parcel of level unused land.

The Caledonian Railway had, by purchasing a number of railways, inherited a collection of railway works. But these were insufficient for the needs of the expanding company. Greenock Works and Shed was one such works (it was the main works for years and remained in use until 1885). Under locomotive superintendent Robert Sinclair a new repair works and stores were built at St Rollox in 1854-56 alongside an existing older works of the Garnkirk company. The repair works was approached from the east by a branch from the Buchanan Street line (this connecting line predates the works, designed to reduce the distance between Buchanan Street and the older line's shed and works Inchbelly Works which was just north of the line, on the east side of Springburn Road/Castle Street). The stores were on Springburn Road.

In 1860 the Ordnance Survey Name Book described the works thus

A number of very large workshops. The property of the Caledonian Railway Company.

The buildings were extended east over the approach lines in 1864 and 1870 but by the 1880s, during Dugald Drummond's tenure, a new larger works was required. Most buildings date from the 1880s reconstruction.

The permanent way depot, on the south side of the original line, was moved to Motherwell which allowed the stores to move to Charles Street. A 7 road paint workshop (St Rollox Works Paint Shop) was opened on the south side of the original line alongside the new stores. This was approached from the east. Some of the roof of the original works was reused.

The main site was almost entirely rebuilt and older Inchbelly Works demolished. A series of shed were built in a joined block, all accessed by rail from the east. These were from north to south:
- Saw mill
- Carriage shop
- Wagon shop
- Machine shop, wheel shop
- Erecting shop
(all fronted to the west on Springburn Road by the forge and smith's shop)
- Boiler Shop
- Pattern makers, brass foundry
- Pattern store
- Iron Foundry

The main block (saw mill to erecting shop) were served by 30 sidings to the east. The erecting shop was built on some of the original building, but greatly increased in height.

Just to the east, in the northern part of the works yard, was the timber drying store, (just to the north of which was St Rollox Goods East, which could be useful for stock awaiting work).

Offices ('B' listed) were added in the north west corner of the site, alongside the entry into St Rollox station from Springburn Road.

The new works was capable of building carriages, wagons and locomotives, not just their maintenance.

After formation of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway wagon repairs were concentrated at the former Glasgow and South Western Railway Barassie Carriage and Wagon Works. Locomotive manufacture ceased. A traverser was installed at the entrance to the carriage shop.

On creation of British Railways the works became the principal maintenance depot in Scotland. In 1969 the site came under British Rail Engineering Limited. A new shed was erected east of the traverser. A famous open day was held in 1981. In the 1980s MC Metals used the northern part of the site as a railway scrapyard and many locomotives were scrapped here.

BREL became British Rail Maintenance Limited in 1988 and in 2002 Alstom took over, then Railcare from 2007 to 2013 and now Knorr Bremse.

The northern portion of the carriage works was demolished and almost all of the yard lifted in 1997/8. After remaining derelict for a while the site was cleared in late 2001 and a supermarket built. The building roughly equates to the north portion of the works building (a great pity it was not reused) and the car park was the works yard.

The works remains open. From north to south it now consists of
- Carriage works
- Wheel shop
- Erecting shop
- Electrical shop
- Air conditioning
- Body shop
- Live test area

Access is a little inconvenient. From Sighthill East Junction a single line runs down the west side of the route to Gartcosh to a reversing spur. The line was not included in the electrification of the Cumbernauld route.

To the north the former office building survives as 'St Rollox House'. There are two monuments to the men of the works, one a column with the names of apprentices (recovered from the demolished portion of the works this can be found in the supermarket car park) and the other a striking sculpture commemorating the staff of the works (at the east end of a footpath which follows part of the course of the Buchanan Street extension.


Works locomotive works carriage works wagon works

External links

Canmore site record
NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67

Chronology Dates

  /  /1848Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway
Caledonian Railway buys land at St Rollox. This will later be the site of the St Rollox Works.
  /  /1854Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway
The Caledonian Railway opens the St Rollox Works between the original line's alignment and the new Buchanan Street Extension (Caledonian Railway). The works built and maintained locomotives and rolling stock. (Alternative date 1856.) Greenock Works and Shed on the Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock Railway - workshops abandoned.
29/10/1863Peebles Railway
Leadburn, Linton and Dolphinton Railway
Three runaway ballast wagons from Leadburn, Linton and Dolphinton Railway construction work run downhill through into Leadburn station and into the path of an approach southbound train for Peebles resulting in considerable damage. There was only one death, the young son of Charles Tennant of the St Rollox Works, a director of the Peebles Railway who lived at The Glen.
  /  /1882Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway
St Rollox Works extension opened.
  /  /1886Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway
St Rollox Works remodelled and enlarged.
24/07/1968Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway
Townhead (St Rollox Goods West) to St Rollox Works closed to goods.
  /  /1987Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway
British Rail Engineering Limited stop using St Rollox Works. MC Metals continue to use the sidings for asbestos removal from stock and locomotives.
  /  /1987Portpatrick Railway
SEALINK liveried stock withdrawn and broken up at the Springburn works (St Rollox Works), replaced with other stock.
12/04/2011St Rollox Works
The first of 16 Class 314 re-enters traffic after refurbishment at St Rollox Works by Railcare Springburn. Total work to cost £800,000.

News items

18/05/2022St Rollox Locomotive Works in Springburn, Glasgow granted listed building status [Glasgow Times]
18/05/2022St Rollox Locomotive Works in Glasgow recognised with listed status [HES]
14/03/2022Historic Glasgow railway works could be saved from 'industrial vandalism' by heritage listing [Daily Record]
08/03/2022Historic Glasgow rail works could become listed building [Glasgow Times]
04/05/2021The Caley: Deal sealed for defunct Scottish depot that once built the worlds trains [The Sunday Post]
13/02/2021Unions express 'concern' over Government inaction at closed Caley Railworks site [Glasgow Live]
27/01/2021Glasgow campaigners in call to bring jobs back to axed Caley rail works [Evening Times]
17/04/2020Millionaire's locomotive firm in talks to take over St Rollox [Evening Times]
13/01/2020Historic Springburn Caley railworks could be re-opened by Brexit-backing tycoon [Evening Times]
26/07/2019Protest held outside Gemini Rail depot as it faces closure [BBC News]