Glasgow began to develop as a port and industrial centre from the late eighteenth century. Opened in 1790, the Forth and Clyde Canal was built from the River Forth near Edinburgh through to Glasgow and brought some coal to the growing industries in the area - but not enough. From 1794, the Monkland Canal gave direct access to the coalfields around Coatbridge but businesses in Glasgow soon became dissatisfied with the monopoly they held over the supply of coal. In 1826, the Monklands and Kirkintilloch Railway was built to transport coal from the Monklands coalfields to the Forth and Clyde Canal and thence to Glasgow. From 1831, the Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway brought the coal directly into Glasgow. These lines would introduce the earliest steam locomotives in Scotland.
Charles Tennant, the inventor of bleaching powder, opened a chemical factory beside the Monkland Canal in 1799. By the 1830s this was the largest chemical factory in the world consuming vast quantities of coal. Concerned with the monopoly the Monkland Canal had over the supply of his coal, Tennant became one of the sponsors of the Garnkirk and Glasgow Railway. Several railway lines into Glasgow converged in this area of Glasgow known as St Rollox, and it would become one of the most important manufacturing centres for steam locomotives and carriages. The famous St Rollox Works, Cowlairs Works, Hyde Park Works and Atlas Works were all concentrated in an area no more than 2 miles across. That story is told here too.
Finally, as a bonus, I tell the story of the Ballachulish Railway in the Highlands of Scotland. Open in 1903, this line served the famous Ballachulish slate quarry, but it soon became a popular tourist line too. It is a very scenic railway with an interesting history.
I hope you enjoy the history!