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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day



By Gilbert T Bell

Springburn Park By 1950 the Springburn area was home to around 35,000 people. High population density in a close-knit community and a workforce over-reliant on one industry (locomotive manufacture) might have been virtues of an old order, but they had become outdated concepts.

NBL Locomotive at Stobcross By the 1960s Springburn had problems. The Directors of the North British Locomotive Company (NBL) had been paternalistic employers who liked to maintain a large workforce, but they were unwilling or unable to accept the structural changes in their industry and in the global marketplace. Railways everywhere were increasingly being electrified and NBL, whose great expertise had been in steam locomotive manufacture, were slow to change. They failed to be competitive and, having long faced financial difficulties, NBL went into liquidation in 1962 with something in the order of 4,500 workers being made redundant.

Springburn College The nationalisation, and later privatisation, of the railways reduced the need for extensive workshop capacity at Springburn - these were either closed (Cowlairs) or drastically reduced in scale (St Rollox). At a few strokes Springburn lost all its once great industry and it never recovered.

Balgrayhill Redevelopment The housing stock too had largely come to the end of its useful life. Overcrowded single-end and room and kitchen houses no longer met tolerable standards. Tenements were also in poor structural condition. Thus the area was comprehensively redeveloped from 1973 onwards with much new housing being built. Old familiar streets vanished and a new Springburn Expressway bisected what had once been a thriving cohesive community. Some factory units replaced the old railway works, a college occupied the former headquarters of NBL and a new shopping centre provided shops under one roof, but it is not the Old Springburn. Somewhere along the way its vitality has ebbed.

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