The Ship Yard Trust – Support For The Venture

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Public Consultation regarding The Ship Yard Trust

Plans to establish an Iconic Venue Celebrating Shipbuilding and Marine Heritage of the Clyde – 

Participate in the Consultation

banner ship yard trust

The Trust is keen to attract wide engagement and support and seeks your thoughts and suggestions.  Become a friend and share your support by completing the form.

Mission Statement (See Full Press Release)

The great industrial achievements of the River Clyde in steam propulsion, engineering and shipbuilding are widely known not just in the UK but around the world. Despite this, there is no single location on the River where this world-class story can be told. The time has come to acknowledge the vision of those who established these industries, of the innovation central to their success and to the individual contribution made by hundreds of thousands of men and women over many decades who toiled through good times and bad to manufacture remarkable products and make the name Clydebuilt synonymous with excellence. The Ship Yard Trust has been formed to focus attention on these achievements and engage with all parties to formulate a strategy that permanently acknowledges this outstanding industrial heritage.

Some of my thoughts on The Shipyard Trust Initiative

I wholeheartedly support the aims of The Shipyard Trust to establish a venue which would tell the remarkable story of the Clydeside – famed for its world renowned shipbuilding and maritime engineering.


Here are some of my thoughts and ideas relating to the initiative:

1) The immense social, cultural and economic history of the shipbuilding industry, the people and the Clydeside should be remembered and showcased.  This is a venture, which is long overdue and has significant potential.

2) I know you have yet to decide on a location but my personal experience of the Clydeside relates mainly to Clydebank, which played a particularly significant role with regard to shipbuilding and marine engineering.   John Brown Shipbuilders (founded 1851) was the yard where many world famous ships were built, including: RMS LusitaniaRMS AquitaniaHMS HoodHMS RepulseRMS Queen MaryRMS Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Elizabeth 2.



queen elizabeth cadiz

(Queen Elizabeth Cadiz Meester Proper, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

These ships and the people who built them should be a key feature of the planned venue with dedicated galleries.

Capturing the scale of the industrial past

No children living in Clydebank today wandering through the shopping centre can have any sense of the vibrant town which existed during the hey day of shipbuilding, when the town was bursting – mornings, at lunchtime and when the yards closed at night –with a sea of men in dungarees. It was every boy’s dream to gain an apprenticeship in the yards and practically every household produced a skilled plater, welder, rigger or boilermaker. The town is a very different, much duller place today, with more poverty and too much low paid employment.  The proud past of the Clydeside presented through a dedicated venue could promote a sense of pride and help raise the aspirations of young people.

Educational Opportunities

A venue such as is being proposed by The Ship Yard Trust would be able to provide information and educational opportunities to local schools and colleges. It could offer many learning and research opportunities with a focus on the Clydeside’s shipbuilding and maritime history. Dedicated study space could be made available with facilities for pupils and students undertaking research in the area and undertaking school projects , university dissertations and thesis?  Short term courses and workshops could also be offered, which would attract life long learners interested in finding out more about the history of the Clydeside.  Workshops and lectures could be organised covering related topics. Such courses could be a source of revenue.

There must be many film archives, for example, capturing the launches of famous ships, which could be incorporated into workshops and which would also be an attraction for both local people and tourists.  These could be shared digitally to showcase the venue to an international audience.

Work In Upper Clyde Shipbuilders


Apart from the fantastic history of the manufacture of famous ships, celebrated launches – international recognition was gained between June 1971 and October 1972 with the work in at the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders.  This groundbreaking industrial action should be showcased as part of the project as it captures a unique episode of industrial action.

the world is watching us

I would love to see a section within the museum/monument dedicated to this historical event making use of the footage that exists and including Jimmy Reid’s wonderful oratory in his role of spokesperson for the workers.

The Clydeside boilermaker worthy of a mention must be Billy Connolly

billy connolly
(Followsean, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Cultural Events

The venue could be used for many purposes such as book launches and the Clydeside has inspired many writers, songwriters and poets. This includes Brian Whittingham, celebrated first Tannahill Makar, who previously worked in John Brown’s Shipyard. His poetry collection ‘Bunnets and Bowlers’ draws on the community of the shipyards.

brian whittingham bunnets and bowlers
You can listen to me chatting with Brian on Jim and Pat’s West End Chat Podcast – where he talks about his time in the yards and how this inspired his writing.

Art Exhibitions Involving Local People

Pictorial Displays of the Clydeside Heritage and Shipyards would no doubt figure in any tribute to the Clydeside.  Opportunities could also be afforded to local artists and photographers with temporary exhibitions and competitions encouraging local involvement.

In Clydebank and Old Kilpatrick there are active local art clubs who regularly hold exhibitions – exhibitions with Clydeside themes would no doubt be popular.  Similar opportunities could be afforded to photographers with temporary exhibits capturing the Clydeside today.

Bowling Harbour and the Erskine Bridge are favourite subjects for local photographers.

John Brown Offshore

In the 70s I worked at John Brown Offshore – a later part of the Clyde’s history with modules made for the oil industry in Scotland.  Perhaps not so impressive or romantic but also of key importance historically and a development which demonstrated diversification.

Opportunities for job creation and economic development exist on the Clydeside and hopefully, as these are explored and developed in the future, the Ship Yard Trust would highlight progress.

Scotts of Bowling

Among other Shipyards in the area was Scotts of Bowling where it was claimed that Scott’s apprentices could find work anywhere in the world.

Yard-62 scotts of bowling

(Scotts of Bowling)

Tourism in West Dunbartonshire

Whilst acknowledging that no location has yet been decided on regarding the project, a it seems to me that Clydebank is the most deserving, appropriate and stands to gain most. The town is crying out for a shot in the arm and celebration of Clydebank’s proud history and magnificent achievements in shipbuilding and maritime engineering with the establishment of a world class attraction could have immense benefits.

dumbarton castel from erskine bridge gordon mackay:

Dumbarton Castle from Erskine Bridge – Gordon Mckay

Dumbarton has the Scottish Maritime Museum,Dumbarton Castle and the fantastic Levengrove Park.   Within West Dumbartonshire tourism has been neglected – the two towns could make much more of their historical attractions and this venture could be the very initiative needed to stimulate tourism in the area – perhaps with a joint venture between the two towns.  The impact of an attractive venue celebrating the achievements of the Clydeside could stimulate the local economy, create a demand for cafes, shops, restaurants and accommodation and stimulate employment and training opportunities.

It is a very important and attractive venture that would capture and showcase the history of the Clydeside – it has the potential to have major social, cultural and economic impact on the area.

p.s. You’ll obviously need a fabulous tea room. 🙂

Pat Byrne, March, 2021

COMPLETE THE FORM and offer your suggestions and ideas to The Ship Yard Trust.

Full details of The Ship Yard Project

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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