There’s a saying that “The Clyde made Glasgow and Glasgow made the Clyde”. Making both of these statements is quite justifiable, as without the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third longest in Scotland, as well as its access to the sea, Glasgow might never have grown to become Scotland’s largest city. The Clyde, stretching 170 km (106 miles), started as a shallow salmon river which was transformed over the years by Glaswegians to its current form, allowing ships to sail right into the heart of the city.
Due to the Clyde opening to the Irish Sea and the Atlantic, trade with the Americas made the fortunes of Glasgow. Especially sugar, cotton and tobacco were imported, and by 1772 over half of all tobacco shipped to Britain came into Glasgow. With heaps of natural resources nearby, Glasgow grew into a large manufacturing city and its products were exported in massive numbers. Needless to say, shipbuilding became the city’s bread and butter (more on that tomorrow). Before that could happen, the river, which naturally very shallow, had to be made more navigable for large ships. This was achieved by the late 19th century, in time for Glasgow to become a major industrial city and the world’s largest shipbuilding centre.
With the shipyards now mostly gone, the Clyde is undergoing a massive regeneration from Glasgow Green to Dumbarton. The river has been cleaned, the docks closed, and the riverfront is being taken over by residential development, business centres and recreational facilities. A new Riverside Museum should open next sometime next year, to compliment all of the modern landmarks seen above on both banks of the Clyde.
Glasgow Trivia #10: Both banks of the Clyde at the section visible in the above photo used to look vastly different because of Glasgow’s shipbuilding heritage. On the left used to be the Prince’s Docks, built in the 1890s and closed in the 1970s. The basins were filled for the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival. A basin from the original docks still remains on the south side of the Glasgow Science Centre. The larger Queen’s Docks on the other side of the river were built in the 1870s and were filled in with rubble from the demolition of St Enoch Railway Station. These were the furthest docks from the mouth of the river. TheGlasgowStory website has an aerial photo of what the area used to look like, in relation to the university, and another of the two docks.
[Summer 2010 Poll: Where Are You From?] Click on the photo above for a larger version. Please rate the photo below! © 2010 GlasgowUniPhoto.com