A FATHER and son duo have ambitious plans to return an iconic Glasgow railway depot to its former glory.

The historic Caledonian Works at St Rollox in Springburn, known as ‘The Caley’ which once built locomotives to be exported around the world, was closed in 2019, despite a strong campaign to keep it alive.

The future of the site, the largest of its kind in Scotland, has been uncertain ever since and it was feared that the railway engineering works, which Springburn was famous for, would be lost forever.

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It has been revealed the facility has been taken over by Gibson’s Engineering which plans to use it as a manufacturing, maintenance and repair centre once again.

The aim is to grow ‘The Caley’ once again to be a major employer in the area once more.

The firm, run by Dougie Gibson and his son Fraser Gibson, has plans to expand the operation to employ 5,000 workers over the next ten years.

Glasgow Times:

Gibson’s Engineering said the workforce will build new trains, maintain existing fleets and carry out repairs, such as accident damage and vehicle overhaul. 

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It is planned St Rollox will have a fully electrified rail line from its facilities to the mainline, between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and will be the only active wheel-shop facility in Scotland.

Fraser Gibson, Managing Director of Gibson’s Engineering, said: “This is fantastic news for Scotland, which has a proud heritage and tradition of rail manufacturing, maintenance and repair.

“It’s full steam ahead and Dougie and I are excited to work with our team to get the facility fully operational, and to get ‘The Caley’ thriving again, as it did for over 160 years previously.” 

Glasgow Times:

The site was bought by businessman David Moulsdale who had been looking to keep railway engineering in Springburn.

Mr Moulsdale, founder of Optical Express, is non-executive chairman of Gibson’s Engineering.

He has invested more than £10 million, including the purchase price of the depot, refurbishment and ongoing maintenance of the buildings.

Glasgow Times:

He said: “I was born and raised just three miles from ‘The Caley’.

“I vividly recall the enormous impact this unique engineering powerhouse had on me, and on the Greater Glasgow and broader Scottish community. 

“I’m extremely confident that our ambition to see significantly larger-scale employment of engineers, coachbuilders, project managers and apprentices in the north of Glasgow will come to fruition.

“Together with Gibson’s Engineering and the local community, we are breathing new life into ‘The Caley’ and the Scottish economy.” 

The firm said the re-opening of ‘The Caley’ will create employment opportunities for engineers, coachbuilders, project managers and apprentices.

Around 200 workers lost their jobs when the works were shut down and the site, owned by Hansteen, was put up for sale.

Unite the union, local people and politicians staged a Rally Roon the Caley campaign but were unable to convince either the owners or the Scottish Government to save the depot.

PAul Sweeney, Glasgow Labour MSP, was involved in the campaign.

He said 

Paul Sweeney MSP said: “I am pleased that the St. Rollox ‘Caley’ Railway works in Springburn is set to be reopened after its closure five years ago, and it is welcome news that Gibson's Engineering intend to make use of the site for railway engineering again – respecting the rich 168 year heritage of The Caley. 

"The closure of the works in 2019 was a shattering blow to the community with 200 job losses. 

“At the time of the announced closure in late 2018, I was at the forefront of the campaign to save the Caley along with the Unite trade union but both the Scottish Government and the UK Government showed little desire or effort to preserve the skills and capabilities of what was undoubtedly a centre of railway engineering excellence. 

“In 2022, I successfully applied for Historic Environment Scotland to list the Caley and have been working since to get the complex back in use as a railway engineering works. I will be meeting with Gibson's Engineering in the coming weeks to see how I can assist in bringing the historic St. Rollox Works back into use.”

Gibson’s Enginering has the support of a former first minister, a university principal and a former Formula 1 world champion.

Lord Jack McConnell said: “‘The Caley’ has a proud heritage in railway engineering and is part of Scotland’s industrial DNA.

“I am excited to see Gibson’s Engineering bring their experience and expertise to this famous place in the heart of Glasgow, with the prospect of thousands of new skilled jobs in the years ahead.”


Professor Sir Jim McDonald GBE, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Glasgow and the West of Scotland at large are going through an engineering renaissance in several areas including manufacturing, energy, aerospace and many others. This enhances the opportunity for Gibson’s Engineering to influence the industrial landscape and further propel advancements in railway engineering while also helping to preserve Scotland’s rich heritage.”


Jackie Stewart, three-time Formula 1 world champion, Sir Jackie Stewart, said: “Growing up close to Glasgow, I was always proud of the city’s reputation for engineering expertise, and the Caley was at the forefront of that.

“By reopening the site, David Moulsdale and the team at Gibson’s Engineering are breathing new life into Scotland’s train manufacturing sector. I wish them all the best in this new venture, as it builds from strength to strength.”