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The St Rollox works in Springburn (top left image—in 1955) was the last surviving locomotive works in Scotland. At the height of production during the first world war the St Rollox complex covered over 190 acres and provided work for about 5000 men. In 1965 the works underwent major renovations at a cost of £1.5 million (top right). By the early 1980s however the works had failed to make the transition from steam technology to modern diesel and electric engines. As a result thousands of jobs were lost when the works closed. In 1987 the site was described as a scene of “urban desolation” with poor quality high rise housing (middle left) and the area suffered from severe decline (middle right). Policymakers have suggested that the development of food superstores in deprived communities can improve the diet and health of residents, and stimulate the local economy.1 As part of a public-private initiative the site of the St Rollox works was re-developed by the Tesco St Rollox Partnership at a cost of about £25 million (bottom left)—sacrificing some green space for a tarmac car park and associated transport infrastructure. The hypermarket, which opened in November 2001, promised jobs and training to the local unemployed.2 A recent evaluation of this initiative suggested only limited impacts on health and little impact on fruit and vegetable consumption.3 Opening supermarkets in deprived communities may not be the single most effective approach to improve local diets. Commercial reality is such that all supermarkets provide opportunities to consume both healthy and unhealthy products. The image (bottom right) illustrates this point: the large tins of confectionary and the Sunny Delight fruit drinks in this prominent display both contain high levels of sugar and are particularly attractive to children.
Digital images (photos 1–4) used in this article are from the Springburn Virtual Museum, part of the Glasgow Digital Library. For more information please go to http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/springburn/ and http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/. The authors prepared this paper while funded by a grant from the Department of Health Reducing Health Inequalities Initiative (ref 121/7492). The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Department of Health.