A view of the future at Glasgow Harbour

28 Feb 2008

by Ian Lundy, Evening Times

The multi-million pound development at Glasgow Harbour could help lead a renaissance in activity on the River Clyde. Since the bottom fell out of the shipbuilding industry traffic on the waterway, which once teemed with vessels, has all but dried up.

A passenger service, the Pride O' The Clyde, which ran between Broomielaw and Braehead, ended last year when owner Alex Gilmour sold the vessel.

But Clydeport managing director Euan Jamieson, the man behind the Glasgow Harbour development, hopes the area can become a focus for all types of vessels.

He also wants to ensure the riverbank is opened up to people by providing a walkway, restaurant, shops and coffee houses.

At the moment, the site - between the Expressway and the Clyde - looks like a flattened, muddy building site.

Within three years, Mr Jamieson says, it will be a thriving shopping centre with a high-class civic square - effectively a new city district in its own right, with links to Partick and the West End.

A masterplan for the site, formerly occupied by the giant Meadowside Granaries and Yorkhill Quay, is to go before Glasgow City Council later this year.

It reveals plans to develop berthing facilities and to encourage a variety of vessels to use the area:

The tallship Glenlee - currently near the SECC - will move to a specially-built berth at the new Transport Museum
The paddle steamer Waverley, which uses Pacific Quay, will instead use new quays at Yorkhill
It's hoped to attract destroyers and other navy vessels to the stretch between the SECC and the River Kelvin
A slipway will be built at the mouth of the Kelvin for a ferry crossing to and from Water Row in Govan and for other small craft
A pontoon will be built at the western end of the development to encourage small boat use
It's also planned to open a riverside restaurant beside the shopping centre.

Mr Jamieson said: "We want to see some smaller ships using the river.

"We are only now getting to the point where leisure use on the River Clyde is going to be sustainable.

"As well as Glasgow Harbour and the Transport Museum, there are also new developments at the Science Centre, SECC, Braehead, Renfrew and Clydebank.

"It's a question of timing. Once there are places to go along the river then people will use it."

Greg Connelly, who runs Seaforce, a powerboat service, said the reason the Clyde was so quiet was that the infrastructure for yachts and pleasure cruisers was not in place.

Mr Connelly, whose firm operates from beside the Tall Ship, said: "Since the Pride O' The Clyde left it is only ourselves and the new Seaplane.

"It would be nice to see a lot more and there are plans for a slipway at the Transport Museum, which will make a huge difference.

"Because it was an industrial river, all the quaysides are high and for people with motor cruisers and yachts there are very few places to berth.

"That is what happens in places like Paris, where they have provided facilities, and that's still on the cards here.

"When you go up the river there are now buildings on what was once derelict industrial land.

"But unless there is the proper infrastructure then no-one will come - and this new development is providing that.

"A lot of people in Glasgow have boats but they take them elsewhere. If the plans for a canal linking Loch Lomond happen then that will open up the Clyde to thousands of boats."

As revealed in the Evening Times last week, the proposed new Lomond Canal could provide the Vale of Leven with a huge economic boost.

It would be built alongside the River Leven between Balloch and Dumbarton, meaning that boaters could travel between the Firth of Clyde and Loch Lomond.

The only reminder of the industrial heritage on the land now being transformed by the new development is the B-Listed Scotway House.

Built in 1885 it didn't become a familiar landmark to passing traffic until the buildings around it were recently demolished to make way for Glasgow harbour.

Despite some fears it could share a similar fate to the old Partick Station ticket office - demolished by Tesco last year - developers have made it clear it has a future at the heart of the regeneration project.

Euan Jamieson said: "We will integrate it into the new retail and leisure development and probably turn it into a restaurant."

Scotway House used to be a drawing office for the shipbuilding firm of D&W Henderson.

Plans for the original royal yacht - predecessor of the Britannia - and a number of high-class liners were drawn up in the office.

There were plans several years ago to move the building brick-by-brick to another part of the development.

But, following discussions with Historic Scotland, it was felt the building should stay on its site.

Reproduced with the permission of The Evening Times(Glasgow) © Newsquest (Herald & Times) Ltd.