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Title: Polmadie  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Joe Yule, Glasgow East End Regeneration Route, MV Chauncy Maples, Govan, Dübs and Company
Collection: Districts of Glasgow, History of Scotland, Incinerators
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Scottish Gaelic: Poll Mac Dè
Polmadie is located in Glasgow council area
 Polmadie shown within Glasgow
OS grid reference
Council area Glasgow City Council
Lieutenancy area Glasgow
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town GLASGOW
Postcode district G42
Dialling code 0141
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Glasgow Central
Scottish Parliament Glasgow Southside
List of places

Polmadie is a district of Glasgow, the most populous city in Scotland. Polmadie is situated south of the River Clyde, and adjacent to the Gorbals.

The most prominent landmark within Polmadie is the twin chimneys of a now disused waste incinerator plant operated by Glasgow City Council.

Also located in the area is a large railway maintenance depot for Virgin Trains, which is the most northerly train stabling and maintenance area on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), since the line runs through Polmadie on its final approach into Glasgow Central railway station.

The area was also home to BOC's industrial gases filling plant and main Scottish base, until this moved to a more modern facility in early 2007 to Cambuslang just outside Glasgow, in anticipation of the completion of the M74 Southern link and associated redevelopment of the surrounding area.

The area is served directly by the M74 motorway, following its extension into the city centre which opened in June 2011.


  • Transport 1
    • Shipbuilding 1.1
  • Polmadie waste facility 2
  • History 3
    • Origin and meaning of the name Polmadie 3.1
    • Hospital of St John 3.2
  • Sources on-line 4
  • References 5


Polmadie train depot. The West Coast Main Line tracks are on the right, with a Class 318 train running on the fast line to the right. A Virgin "Voyager" train is entering the stabling area to the left, the slow line. This photograph predates the construction of the M74 Extension, which runs to the immediate north of the facility

Polmadie is home to Alstom's Polmadie Depot on the West Coast Main Line.


The SS Chauncy Maples at anchor on Lake Nyasa, four years after her launch

The Glasgow firm of Alley & McLellan was a significant producer of smaller commercial vessels as well as the world's leading manufacturer of steam lorries (later Sentinel Waggon Works of Shrewsbury).[1]

The location of the Alley & McLellan construction yard in Polmadie might appear perverse, as the yard had been built a considerable distance to the south of the river,[2] with the expansive final approach into Glasgow Central Station imposing just one of many unbreachable barriers between it and the Clyde. However, the company specialised in supporting the far reaches of the British Empire[3] by constructing vessels that were dismantled into kit form once they had been completed. The resulting set of parts was frequently enormous and a logistical nightmare to transport; re-assembly also depended heavily upon the availability of skilled hands at the customer’s premises. However, as in the case of the SS Chauncy Maples, this was frequently the only viable option when the ultimate destination was very far inland, away from any semblance of modern communications.

Polmadie waste facility

Polmadie is the home of Glasgow's only materials recovery facility (MRF).[4] The MRF is based in the building of an old incinerator.


Origin and meaning of the name Polmadie

Polmadie is derived from the Scottish Gaelic Poll Mac Dè. The bulk of the place-names of the neighbourhoods of Glasgow were either coined by Gaelic-speakers or adapted to Gaelic from Cumbric. Polmadie is an early Gaelic name, containing the Gaelic "poll" (pool), but which usually means burn or stream in areas where Gaelic replaced Cumbric. From a late 12th century form, Polmacde, it is clear that the middle element is Gaelic mac (of (the) sons). The third element could be either the personal name Daigh, or the Gaelic Dè (of God), referring to an early religious establishment beside the burn. A remarkable feature of this place-name is how the original stress-pattern has survived, even centuries after its meaning ceased to be understood by those using it locally. It is still pronounced "pawmaDEE" (with a half stress on "paw" and full stress on "dee"), exactly as it would have been stressed in Gaelic.[5]

Hospital of St John

According to the minister of Govan, writing in New Statistical Account of Scotland in 1835, the ruins of the Hospital of Polmadie were still to be seen at the end of the 18th century. This famous "hospital" - actually a combination of asylum, orphanage, old folks home and hospital - was dedicated to Saint John, which suggests that it might have had some connection with the Knights Hospitaller. It was in existence before 1249 during the reign of King Alexander III, for a charter still exists in which he confirms the Hospital’s privileges. On 24 May 1371 King Robert the Bruce issued a confirmation of these privileges at nearby Rutherglen. The first Master of the Hospital of St John at Polmadie we know of was Patrick Floker, confirmed by Bishop Robert Wishart on 30 March 1316.

The hospital was financed mostly by income from the lands of the Parish of Strathblane but also by the pious grants of lands and revenues by local landowners and merchants. For example, in 1329, Bishop John of Glasgow gave half the lands of Little Govan to the hospital. There was a catch, though, for at least some of the revenues were dedicated to supporting one of the canons of the Chapter of the Cathedral - who was a Mr John de Berwick. Another act of piety, by the feudal superior of the lands was to free it of its obligations to them - taxes, and such like. This was done by Malcolm, Earl of Lennox in a charter dated 1 July 1333. By this time, the finances of the hospital were becoming important enough to be engaged in trade or commerce. There is a document by Adam, son of Alan a burgess of Dumbarton relating to the appointment of attorneys to deal with Polmadie Hospital.

Another sign of its growing importance is that the next Master of Polmadie Hospital we know of - Walter de Kirkintilloch - was confirmed by a royal, and not just an Episcopal, charter, issued by Queen Margaret, wife of King David II - on 18 May 1367 at Edinburgh.

The Hospital accepted people of both sexes, and they needed therefore to have nuns as well as monks at the hospital. On 10 May 1391, Bishop Matthew of Glasgow presented Gillian de Vaux as a sister to the hospital. (James Cleland in his Annals, 1829, seems to think this was a pauper, but Vaux was in France.) This bishop also issued a decree to restore William Cunningham, Vicar of Dundonald to the administration of the Hospital. This suggests that the Master was now not wholly involved in running it. In fact, the Master tended to be a canon of Glasgow Cathedral, using some of the revenue of the Hospital endowments to fund his work as a priest of the Cathedral. On 12 January 1427, Bishop John Cameron formalised this by a charter which established the lands of Polmadie and the Parish of Strathblane as a prend of Glasgow Cathedral. The Prebendary got the revenues of these lands on condition that he provided a Vicar for Strathblane (as well as maintaining and educating four boys in singing for the choir of the Cathedral). He also had to find someone to look after the Hospital. These arrangements were confirmed by Pope Martin V on 5 December 1429. The Hospital continued at least until 1540 (well before the Reformation) when it was said to have been "abolished". A little further west, and nearer the River Clyde was a Lepers' Hospital dedicated to St Ninian which lasted into modern times.

Sources on-line

  • New Statistical Account of Scotland. 
  • "List of Charters referring to Polmadie Hospital" (PDF). 


  1. ^ Hughes, William Jesse & Thomas, Joseph Llewelyn (1973) A History of Alley & Maclellan And The Sentinel Waggon Works: 1875-1930. Newton Abbot: David & Charles
  2. ^ Millar, W. J. (1888) The Clyde, From Its Source to The Sea, Blackie & Son [2]
  3. ^ Marshall, P. J. (2001)The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, Cambridge University Press
  4. ^ Polmadie MRF
  5. ^
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