Govan is an ancient settlement, once quite separate from and more important than Glasgow.
It is home to some of the most important early Christian
carvings in Scotland. Archaeological evidence and the
heart-shaped churchyard around Govan Old Parish Church show there was
a church and burial ground here as early as 600-800 AD. Numerous
carved tombstones dating from 900- 1100 have been found.
Govan remained a village of thatched cottages until well into
the 19th century, but with the shipbuilding came urbanisation. The
early 19th century population of about 2,000 rose to 9,000 in 1864
and nearly 60,000 by the mid 1880 and the name of Govan became
synonymous with shipbuilding.
Fairfield's Shipyard became the
biggest shipyard in the world with a labour force of 5,000.
Fairfield's offices survived and the yard is still in use, with BVT
Surface Fleet building vessels for the Royal Navy. The Pearce
Institute is named after William Pearce, the dynamic manager of the
shipyards in the late 19th century.
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A number of Scotland's most important early Christian tombstones have been discovered in Govan and can be seen in Govan Old Parish Church.
Elder Park was established in 1885 by Mrs Isabella Elder as a monument to her shipbuilder husband. She wanted to give the people of Govan ‘healthful recreation bymusic and amusement’.
Fairfield Shipyards grew to become the largest and most successful of all the Clyde yards, building warships, liners and steamers.
This building was dedicated in 1888 and is at least the fourth church to stand on this ancient site.