The Steam Engine

With the development of the steam engine in the early nineteenth century, Glasgow's long association with this trademark industry was born.

In August 1812 the engineer and inventor Henry Bell made the initial voyage on his steam boat Comet. He was able to shorten the time it had taken to make the journey from Port Glasgow to Broomielaw and brought to an end the reliance upon good wind and the right tide. He began to provide reliable journeys between various parts of the greater Glasgow area. It was the first time that a steam boat business provided regular passenger travel in Europe. Though he was soon passed by his rivals in business, he had paved the way for the shipbuilding industry in Glasgow

Men such as John Napier and Duncan McArthur then established names for themselves in building steam engines. By 1832 there were over 60 steam boats making their way through the Clyde. And it was not long before Glasgow became a centre for that other great steam industry, the railway locomotive.

The Riverside Museum is now providing a suitable Clydeside location to tell more of the story of Glasgow's success in steam powered transport for both land and sea.

More on the history of the River Clyde (Back to listing)