Starting from 1905, the Federated Malay States Railway (FMSR) began building a complex of railway maintenance workshops at Sentul known as the Central Railway Workshops.
Sentul Depot, as it is known now, consists of numerous large brick buildings and metal sheds primarily used once as depots, engineering workshops and storage areas for steam and diesel locomotives and railway cars.
Occupying an estimated 5.2 hectares (13 acres) of land, Sentul Depot with a footprint of 200,000 square feet operated long before Malaya's independence from British rule in 1957.
It was the centre of the FMSR locomotive storage and maintenance in the Federated States of Malaya, and after 1948, the Malayan Railways (Keretapi Tanah Melayu/ KTM).
Sentul Depot was one of the biggest finest integrated engineering workshops in the world, employing about 5,000 railway people in its heyday. Activities include assembly and servicing of railway carriages.
Majority of the parts needed by the rail industry were manufactured in the foundry, sawmills & workshops located at the complex. At its height, the depot even built train parts to serve the railway network in India.
Sentul was one of the last towns in the country to be bombed by British planes during World War II.
In 1945, just weeks before the end of WW II, the depot was heavily bombed by British B-29 bombers because it was seen as a vital rail complex for the Japanese occupiers.
After the War, the workshops were partially rebuilt but never regained their former prominence and many of the former colonial railway buildings were left as hollow shells or ruins.
Some of the workshops underwent several modifications and expansions over the years to assume its current mix of century-old and newer structures.
Sentul Depot is still the largest train depot in Malaysia today, but is currently inoperative after decades of use, and the majority of connecting railway lines to the north and west dismantled.
Until the early 2000s, the workshop was still in use by KTM and also housed many decommissioned locomotives, but was eventually closed down and its operations moved to a replacement depot in Batu Gajah, Perak.
A new central workshop constructed in Batu Gajah, Perak replaced it by August 2009.