The character of Anderston changed from the late 1830s as a host of engineering shops and foundries became established. Much of this development was stimulated by the presence of the famous engineering firm of Robert Napier & Sons, owner of the Lancefield works, several of whose craftsmen left to set up their own workshops in the district. As these businesses prospered they moved away in search of room for expansion. W M Neilson moved his Hydepark locomotive works to Springburn in 1863 and by 1870 the Lancefield Forge, which had made the massive crankshafts for J. K. Brunel's massive ship, the Great Eastern, had departed to Tradeston. In 1878 Houldsworth's great mill in Cheapside was converted into a bonded warehouse by Thom & Cameron. The removal of J & G Thomson's engine works to Clydebank in 1884 completed this trend.
Only unskilled workers, many of them immigrants from the Highlands and Ireland, were left behind, contributing to a rapid decline in housing and sanitary standards. In 1898 St. Patrick's Roman Catholic church opened to meet their religious needs. The two sections of the community assisted with its building, but only on the understanding that they worked in separate gangs. Although a number of bakeries and grain mills were established, much employment was casual. As a result relief agencies concentrated their efforts on the area. In 1906 the Anderston and District Health Association was formed to reduce the number of preventable deaths amongst the wives and children of general labourers. It was an outstanding success and used as a model for initiatives elsewhere in the city.
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