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Second City of The Empire: 1830s to 1914

Industry and Technology

Vehicles and Locomotives

By John R Hume

Neilson, Reid & Co Vehicle and locomotive building were in their infancy in Glasgow in 1830, the first locomotives being built in 1831. Between then and the late-1840s several firms made small numbers of locomotives, as did the city's two railway workshops. During the 1850s the Glasgow & South Western Railway moved its workshops to Kilmarnock and the Caledonian Railway moved its works from Greenock to St Rollox. The Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway's works at Cowlairs became the main works of the North British Railway after 1865. The surviving "private" locomotive-building company, Neilson & Co, moved its works to Springburn in 1861, so that by the late-1860s there were three large locomotive works in the Springburn area.

NB Locomotive catalogue Neilson's works manager, Henry Dubs, left to set up his rival Glasgow Locomotive Works in Polmadie in 1864 and a third "private", Walter Montgomerie Neilson, founded another "private" works in 1884, bought by Sharp, Stewart & Co in 1888. The "private" builders came together in 1903 to form the North British Locomotive Co, the largest European locomotive builder.

Argyll Motors The period also saw a marked expansion in vehicle building. Railway carriages and wagons were made in the same works as the companies' locomotives. There were several companies making horse-drawn vehicles and, when motor vehicles became practical, four sizeable concerns made them before 1914: Albion, Halley, Argyll and Arrol-Johnston. The two last-named had moved out of Glasgow before 1914. The other major vehicle builder was Glasgow Corporation Tramways Department, which constructed large numbers of horse and electric trams in their Coplawhill works, in Pollokshields, after 1894.

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