Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue training facility Cambuslang

I had all but forgotten about reading of the promised Fire and Rescue training facility to be built at Clydesmill (Clyde’s Mill if you prefer) – some four years ago, back in 2009.

The facility planned to use the site formerly occupied by the power station which sat at the north (Cambuslang) end of the weir in the River Clyde. Across the river, at the south end of the weir lies Carmyle, where a bleach works and various mills once sat, but are now long gone, leaving only the remains of the weir which once controlled the river, and provided water to run the works.

The power station was established in 1903, and is described as one of the first coal-fired ‘base load’ stations, meaning it was intended to be started and run continuously for maximum efficiency. Variation in demand were catered for by smaller stations powered by gas, oil, or water (hydroelectric schemes), which can be started and stopped without damaging the equipment, a danger where large coal-fired plants are concerned. It was a large station, and had ready clients in the form of the Clyde Iron Works and Clydebridge Steel Works. See more historic information and photographs here:

Site Record for Glasgow, Clydesmill Power Station Clyde’s Mill Power Station; Cambuslang

However, those clients closed, and so did the power station. It had been extended over the course of its life, and came to have an installed electrical output capacity of 264 MW. Most of the station was closed by the 1970s, and demolished by 1982, leaving only a single gas turbine set, finally demolished in 2002. I used like wandering down to the old turbine station for the occasional look, as the site was built in the days when just about everything, including the fences and lamp posts, was made of concrete, and it was sad to see the bare ground and rubbish that arrived when it was all gone.

I hadn’t been down that way for ages, and decided to follow the path beginning at Cambuslang Golf Club – something I had not done before, as it was easier to get to the power station entrance (always padlocked, until it was demolished of course) from the industrial estate.

It was a good job I started early, and didn’t have to be anywhere else soon!

While it was once possible to reach the river from the industrial estate (or vice versa), the planting of the training facility on the land has completely isolated the river from the estate. The facility is bound by a perimeter fence with security cameras, and encloses 30 acres of land. You can now only get to the river by joining the path at the Cambuslang end to the west, or the Westburn end, to the east, where you have to start some way east of the Clyde’s Mill 275 kV switching station. That’s the A753 and the Westburn Road in the aerial view below.

(At the time of writing, the new facility is not shown in the aerial view, whch just looks like waste ground as the imagery has yet to be updated for this area. Take my word for it, there is now no access from the south between these two ends of the river pathway).

If you do try to get to the river along Westburn Farm Road (through the industrial estate), which used to be a handy shortcut, you will find your way blocked by the following set of fences and gates, with the facilities’ training buildings behind.

Fire training building

Fire training building

30 acres provides a lot of facility, although a lot of the enclosed land remains unused.

Included is a two-storey academic base, a facilities building with an eight-bay fire appliance garage and three practical training zones, fitted out to allow Strathclyde Fire and Rescue to create real-life scenarios, and simulate different fire types within the building. The central training building includes a dummy fire command centre, set up to allow high-ranking officers to practice emergency tactics.

Up to 15 fire crews, each with their own fire engine, can train at once.

The three training  zones include:

  1. Residential – with detached and semi-detached houses, multi-storey building, a tenement building and a church.
  2. Transport – with a section of motorway and railway line complete with platform, level crossing and tunnel.
  3. Industrial – with a petro-chemical plant and laboratory.

The facility took 77 weeks to build. Interestingly, when it was first announced in 2009, it was priced at £35 million, but when it was completed in 2012, it was reported to have cost only £22 million.


March 14, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Great Item. I was born in nearby Kings Cres in 1944 and knew the area well from a scruffy boy point of view.



    Comment by Ed Boyle | April 27, 2013

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