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Issue 77 - River Regeneration

Scotland Magazine Issue 77
October 2014

 

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River Regeneration

Keith Fergus celebrates the legacy of the River Clyde

The River Clyde at Glasgow’s Pacific Quay was a major focal point for visitors during the recent Commonwealth Games and, in turn, saw itself come full circle as one of the city's key economic areas.

Today, the media homes of both STV and BBC Scotland sit adjacent to the fabulous Science Centre while on the river’s north bank The Armadillo and The Hydro have become popular venues for pop concerts and business conferences.

Several bridges also span the Clyde here including the Clyde Arc known as the ‘Squinty Bridge.’

However, this section of the River Clyde and Glasgow will always be synonymous with shipbuilding. Although only a couple of working yards exist today the legacy of Glasgow’s industrial heritage is visible in the magnificent Stobcross Crane (also known as the Finnieston Crane), one of the city’s most dramatic and iconic structures.

Shipbuilding has taken place here for centuries but the industry peaked immediately prior to the First World War when it was estimated that 100,000 people in Glasgow were directly or indirectly employed by shipbuilding; yards such as Fairfield’s, Yarrow’s and John Brown built world-class ships and the likes of HMS Wild Goose, HMS Indomitable and the QE2 bear testament to this.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s around 60 per cent of shipbuilding workers were made redundant and by the 1960s shipbuilding in Glasgow was in irreversible decline. Both banks of the River Clyde lay derelict for many years until the Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988 began the city’s rebirth, which in turn led to Glasgow being designated European City of Culture in 1990.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games was the culmination of Glasgow’s regeneration and while Glaswegian’s are proud of their industrial heritage, they are now very much looking forward.