Shipbuilding and the Clyde were, for decades, synonymous. Vast stretches of the river’s banks were adorned with shipbuilders and repairers working on every variety of ship imaginable; from small every-day ferries to extravagant ocean liners and foreboding warships.
The industry has been in a long slow decline for half a century now and only two yards remain open. If you travel from the centre of Glasgow down river the remains of many of the yards are still visible, with some notable landmarks being preserved such as the famous Titan Crane at Clydebank. However much of the land has either been built upon or, sadly, remains derelict.
To help remember what the river once looked like, we have created a tour starting at Govan Shipbuilders and working our way out to Ailsa at Troon stopping at several yards on the way. Each yard is accompanied by a brief history of its life to demystify the yards that changed owners and names quite regularly.
The photos which are shown only represent a fraction of the holdings we have on shipyards and by no means is it a comprehensive list of the shipping businesses that operated on the Clyde but it will hopefully prove useful to those who are otherwise unfamiliar with the yards and their locations.
The most challenging part of the tour was accurately locating where the yards were on a modern map. Some of the yards were relatively easy such as John Browns at Clydebank as the aforementioned crane is still standing, and more importantly, searchable on internet maps.
Many of the other yards however have little or no trace left of them on a satellite picture of the area, and certainly can’t be found by using the search function on an online map. A variety of ways were used to locate these yards: using open-content maps such as WikiMapia was useful for yards which are derelict as they often are marked as ‘former… yard’ however wherever possible this was cross referenced with what was recognisable from photographs or other sources including local history websites.
Another source which proved extremely useful was the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland website which has many of the yards recorded and pinned on a map as points of historical interest.
Although we have taken effort to accurately locate the yards, any corrections or comments would be welcomed to improve our content.
To begin the tour, follow the link to our Historypin site and select ‘Take the Tour’.
Hope you enjoy!
Categories: Archive Services (GUAS)