The River Clyde has been a centre for shipbuilding for hundreds of years, with boats being built in the area possibly as early as the 15th century.
However, it was during the 19th century, in places such
as Bowling Harbour, Denny's
Shipyard in Dumbarton, John Brown's Shipyard at
Clydebank and Govan Graving Docks, that
shipbuilding became a real source of commerce for Glasgow.
The advent of the The steam engine marked massive
opportunities for Glasgow to expand its heavy
industry.Between 1844 and 1963, Denny's shipyard
alone built over 1500 ships. The Denny family was involved in
building the first steamship that crossed the Channel (1814), the
first turbine steamer (1901), and the first diesel-electric paddle
(1934), to name a few. Also well-known from Dumbarton was the fast
Sark, currently a visitor attraction in London.
For many, though, the heart of the shipping industry in
Glasgow lay in Govan and the Fairfield
Shipyards. At Fairfield, Robert Napier, known as 'the father of
shipbuilding on the Clyde', trained many of those who went on to
establish leading shipyards, including John
Brown's Shipyard in Clydebank. These
shipyards grew towards the end of the nineteenth century to become
the some of the leading suppliers of the Royal Navy, as well as
building liners and steamers, and the tradition continues today
with BAe Systems yards at Govan and Scotstoun.
A shipbuiding landmark on the Clyde is the Finnieston
Crane at Yokhill. Completed in 1931, it was primarily used to
load large steam ocomatives for exportation. In addition, it was
used to fit large ships' engines. This impressive machine is still
in working order.
After World War Two the shipping industry went into decline and
by the 1960's, Fairfield had collapsed.
Recently, however, regeneration of the Clyde
Waterfront has attracted new industry to the area, including
financial services, digital media and tourism. However, the
long tradition of Shipbuilding in the area
More on the history of the River Clyde (Back to