Glasgow North East Constituency
The Glasgow North East constituency was created at the 2005 general election by the amalgamation of the Glasgow Springburn and Glasgow Maryhill seats. It comprises the communities of Ruchill, Hamiltonhill, Possilpark, Port Dundas, Sighthill, Lambhill, Milton, Springburn, Royston, Balornock, Barmulloch, Blackhill, Dennistoun, Drygate, Germiston, Haghill, Carntyne, Robroyston, Provanmill, Riddrie, Hogganfield, Millerston and Ruchazie.
It currently has a population of around 86,000, of which around 60,000 are electors. The late Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons, was the MP from the seat’s creation in 2005 until his retirement in 2009, when he was succeeded by William Bain in a by-election. In June 2017 Paul Sweeney became the MP for the area.
The north east of Glasgow has a remarkable and diverse history, and that is reflected in the diversity and vibrancy of the people who live here today. From its early origins at the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, it has subsequently been vital to Glasgow’s development, even though it was formally incorporated into the city only in 1891, when Glasgow’s territory was doubled in size.
The Molendinar Burn, on the banks of which the founder of Glasgow, St. Mungo, established his cathedral and with it the surrounding town, flows from Hogganfield Loch, the fresh waters of which also nourished what is the longest established business in the city of Glasgow—Tennent’s brewery. The brewery was founded at the Drygate in the 1550s and its amber nectar has slaked the thirst of many a Glaswegian over the centuries.
What was once an area of sylvan beauty and rural charm, a landscape of farms and weavers’ cottages, was rapidly swept away as the first harbingers of the industrial age emerged—the first canals and, later, the first railways in Scotland which, traversed the district. By happy coincidence of its position on the approach to central Glasgow from Edinburgh and the Lanarkshire coalfields, Springburn found itself at the epicentre of this frenetic growth as railway manufacturing and associated industries coalesced there to form the largest centre of locomotive manufacture in the British Empire. At its peak, it employed 15,000 people and had the capacity to build 600 steam locomotives a year, most of which were for export.
Other engineering innovations were pioneered there, too, most notably the Johnston Dogcart, which, in 1895, was the first motor car to be built in Britain by railway engineer George Johnston in Balgrayhill. The first road trials took place in the dead of night, with Johnston driving the car at a rapid 12 mph on a 20-mile journey around Glasgow. For this apparently reckless behaviour, he was charged with contravening the Locomotive Acts by driving his horseless carriage during prohibited hours along Buchanan Street—then, as now, the main shopping thoroughfare in Glasgow.
Today the constituency retains this fine automotive industry pedigree in the form of Allied Vehicles, the largest manufacturer of specialist taxis and mobility vehicles in the United Kingdom, which employs more than 650 highly skilled people in Possilpark. This high-value manufacturer, located on the former site of Walter MacFarlane’s Saracen Foundry, which once made world-famous decorative cast ironwork such as the iconic red telephone box, is also ingrained in the community, supporting many excellent projects such as Possobilities, which supports disabled people in the local area, as well as the highly successful Glasgow Tigers speedway.
The area’s engineering prowess was also critical to supporting Britain’s war effort during the First World War. Springburn’s railway works gave themselves over to the production of munitions for the duration of the war. Throughout this period, they were responsible for producing war material such as the first tanks and aircraft. The works also produced the first modern artificial limbs for wounded servicemen.
The directors of the North British Locomotive Company even offered their headquarters building on Flemington Street to the Red Cross, as existing hospitals were insufficient to cope with the war wounded. It opened on Christmas eve 1914. By the end of the war, a total of 8,211 servicemen had been treated.
Nearby Stobhill Hospital was also requisitioned by the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1914. Wounded troops would be transported directly from the southern channel ports to the hospital on specially converted ambulance trains, and more than 1,000 patients were cared for there at any given time until the return of the hospital to civilian use in 1920.
All Glasgow Labour MPs have stood firmly in the tradition of John Wheatley and his famous Housing Act of 1924, which provided state subsidies for house building to build a ‘land fit for heroes’. It led directly to the creation of Glasgow’s municipal housing system, and saw large-scale building of some 57,000 new homes in new districts such as Riddrie and Carntyne in Glasgow North East between the wars.
As a result of the efforts of former MP Michael Martin and others, Glasgow pioneered the modern housing association movement that saved many of the traditional Victorian tenements in areas such as Dennistoun and Springburn, despite the planning trend for wholesale demolition and construction of high rise flats in Sighthill and Red Road during the 1960s. These areas are now undergoing regeneration.
By writing off the city’s £1 billion housing debt, the last Labour Government enabled an unprecedented renewal of its housing stock, led by organisations such as NG Homes; more than £100 million has been invested in improving housing standards in Glasgow North East. These physical improvements are about not just the sandstone, glass and slate, but reinvigorating the very soul and character of our city, and what it means and feels like to be a Glaswegian from one generation to the next.
Once rural areas like Milton and Barmulloch were developed as post-war overspill estates and more recently the area of Robroyston has grown rapidly as a new residential suburb since the 1980s.
The constituency is traversed by the M8 and M80 motorways, and currently covers five council wards on Glasgow City Council (Canal, Dennistoun, East Centre, Springburn & Robroyston and North East). It also has two Scottish Parliament constituencies (Maryhill & Springburn and Provan).
Paul Sweeney has been a local champion for the area’s history and its architecture, having founded the project to restore the iconic Springburn Winter Gardens in 2013.
My constituency office is located at 252 Saracen Street, Glasgow G22 5LF. Regular surgeries are held throughout the constituency. To arrange an appointment at your nearest local surgery or to meet at my office, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 0141 336 2349. If would like to write to me, please address all correspondence to Paul Sweeney MP, House Of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.