George Russell established the Alpha Works at Motherwell in 1865 for the manufacture of cranes and marine water distillation and cooking apparatus. Russell cranes were sold to dock and harbour companies, iron and shipbuilding industries, and to railways. Cranes were offered in a range of standard sizes. Russell cranes earned a reputation for being "Clydebuilt - the best of their kind". About 3,000 cranes were produced.
The Alpha Works was the first engineering business in Park Street. The area was soon transformed by the arrival of other engineering businesses and especially, in 1870, by David Colville's malleable iron works. Russell's early expertise in crane building was communicated to other builders - for example two ex-employees, foreman J. Marshall and patternmaker J. Fleming became founding Partners of the competing firm Marshall, Fleming & Jack.
This may be the only remaining Russell steam railway crane. It incorporates ship's winch engine components - Russell's were famous ship's derrick makers.
See J.S.Brownlie, Railway Steam Cranes; A Survey of Progress since 1875, Glasgow 1973.
The runner wagon in this picture is British Railways 22 ton steel sided Plate Wagon No.DB931752.