A Sail Cargo Hub for Govan?

Govan graving dry docks, Glasgow, Scotland, sail cargo, maritime park
Govan Graving Docks – what can you imagine?

There are several projects around the world that offer inspiration for what’s possible at Govan Graving Docks as a sail cargo hub.

Modern sail cargo is not just about nostalgia for the past. Most importantly it is a proven means of tackling climate change by reducing CO2 emissions from shipping. It is tried and tested the world over so why not on the Clyde – the river that once built a fifth of the world’s ships?

Sail cargo is about the FUTURE!

Sail cargo presents a business and economic case for dry dock restoration.

It’s about creating sustainable, long-term skilled jobs for the people of Govan and Glasgow for decades to come. Some examples:

  • Traditional skills preservation, shipbuilding techniques, carpentry, etc – with modern adaptations
  • Modern sailing ship construction – e.g. using composite materials – as well as building wooden ships
  • Shipbuilding, repair/restoration and other technical skills
  • Sail makers
  • Experience for shipbuilding apprentices
  • Sailing skills training

These are just a fraction of the jobs that a maritime park could create. Most importantly they would last much longer than the time it takes to build some flats.

In Govan we have the ideal site to both operate a sail cargo facility and showcase it as an integral part of a major maritime park attraction. Govan offers a central location to create this – close to the heart of Glasgow. It would enable the wider emerging sail cargo industry to be exhibited in an accessible way not just as a concept idea but a practical, working commercial operation. It would also be a way to create a connection between the past and the future by having this in what was once the most important shipbuilding location in the world. It is a much more suitable location to raise the profile than other sites further down the Clyde that could be suitable but are less accessible to visitors.

If one of the dry docks was restored to working order it could be used to build and repair sail cargo ships – returning civilian shipbuilding to Govan for the first time in decades. It could also be used for restoration projects on historic vessels, bringing part of the site back to it’s original use.

Part of the site could also be used to load/offload goods from small sailing ships – creating even more activity and interest.

It would create a living museum – with activity that still serves a practical business and economic purpose – not just preserving the history in aspic.

You can see some examples of the sail cargo concept at http://sailingdog.org/sail-freight-projects-around-the-world/

Planning Objections #SaveGovanDocks

Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative will be issuing detailed guidance on objecting to New City Vision’s planning applications for Govan Graving Docks if and when they are submitted.

We suggest our supporters familiarise themselves with the basic essentials of Scotland’s planning system – outlined in this document produced by F0E Scotland – http://www.planningdemocracy.org.uk/resources/PlanningCommunityGuide_FoES.pdf

Once an application is lodged and validated you will normally have 21 days to make representations to Glasgow City Council.

Govan Graving Docks Survey Feedback: What People Said #SaveGovanDocks

As part of our consultation surveys early in 2016 we asked respondents if they had any radical or innovative ideas they think would be appropriate for Govan Graving Docks. Here is a list of the responses we received:

I am ashamed and deeply disappointed at the land that has been sold off for second rate housing on the river’s edge.. There is little that talks of the city’s great past – and that might influence its future..This is one project that will do both those things!

Acquisition of an HMS Belfast type historic (Clude built?) vessel moored near the site. This could act as a further draw to a potential maritime heritage park and serve as a spectacular tourist attraction. Apart from the Tall Ship, no such vessel exists on the Clyde.

This should be developed as a working dockyard for the training of apprentices and the restoration of the skills badly needed in this country.

See above. Local communities throughout Glasgow, particularly within socially challenged areas which have become deprived due to rapid de-industrialisation of the Thatcher era, are crying out for a community education hub – somewhere where community courses can be run, offering a different route into education than mainstream FE colleges. Somewhere which promotes sustainability by using self grown produce within a community garden then to be used in a community kitchen facility where local people can come and socialise, cook, take in seminars etc Glasgow needs to promote Solidarity, community and collectivism again.

If there were suitable Govan built ships which were no longer sea-worthy then they could be displayed in the dry docks (similar to Cutty Sark in Greenwich).

Restore the graving docks as a maritime museum and using the wet dock as a marina for pleasure craft

1) Training apprenticeships for young people should feature in the proposals – good for attracting funding from various sources. 2) An exhibition of the shipbuilding heritage of the Clyde might be considered 3) While politics will unfortunately be a necessity in getting this off the ground suitably managed and committed individuals will best drive this ahead. 4) Pushing the venue as another tourist asset for Glasgow is important.

An outdoor heated swimming pool as lack of such facilities in the area. It could be part of an outdoor beach area and or park for local people to use combined with maritime museum and heritage space.

Don’t think we need another museum as we have Transport Museum across Clyde. Perhaps a statue commemorating Docks area built around something more appropriate for 21st century living in Glasgow.

I think there is room on the site for a full mix of residential & commercial alongside an open-air museum that preserves and seals one dock as permanently empty of water and refurbishes the other two as something useful (be it working dry-dock or some other use)

I no longer live in Scotland but the industries of Govan played a huge part in making who and what I am, my and many families were formed around shipbuilding. The preservation and resurrection of the docks as a working entity would help remind the future generations of the importance of their history

Perhaps we could use it to host our version of the Floriade ? Encouraging local businesses and groups to promote their unique Scottish produce, crafts and skills. The Scottish Government’s international marketing team could probably formulate a decent plan.

The area around Govan is beautiful, with stunning architecture, lovely wide streets, and access to the river. I work there every day and I love it, but it needs to be rejuvenated and cared for. My only innovative idea is that it is used for all purposes set out in this survey – because the area does need everything listed in it. 1. Historical preservation will ensure a great part of Glasgow history is remembered and honoured, and will give the area a unique aesthetic and realistic character – you can’t buy that sort of authenticity and currently it is sitting eroding into nothingness 2. Businesses need to be drawn in, to keep money flowing through the area e.g. cafes. My innovative suggestion is to only use local artisans and food producers, keep it Glaswegian. Innovative idea no.2 is have an insight into the products being sold – I am tired of seeing new developments pricing out locals by selling and providing things no local can afford 3. People need to LIVE there, or the graving docks will be silent as a grave at night, and an abandoned site much like a huge swathe of the Glasgow waterfront has become by thinking of it as only a good place to put in apartments and nothing else. This idea kills communities, creates highrise ghost towns, and will do nothing for the Govan area – there needs to be a mix of working and living spaces. 4. A working dock brings in people, and this can be done on a small scale that also takes a nod towards its history – e.g. reserving a small area for teaching modern and historical techniques of shipwrighting and building. This could also lead to amazing apprenticehsip opportunities, moreso amazing if these apprenticeships could target youth in Govan and other surrounding areas. Govan could be the heart of Glasgow, as it once was. 5. As someone who has worked in heritage conservation for some time I know the power of depending on large institutions e.g. Historic Scotland for the stability and funding whilst keeping a healthy relationship with local communities to guide and project local sentiment. If you rely on one form of heritage institution, you’re going to miss out on one of those things, to great detriment of your project. Think big, work local. Your survey is great but I feel like I’m being guided to chosing one thing. One thing only won’t save Govan! FINALLY. As I’ve mentioned, I work in heritage. I am an artefact conservator, and I know many many people my self included who would be interested in this project and would put their heart into it. I would include a conservator, at this point now in your consultations if you have not done so already. Often we are brought in late into the conversation and so much is missed – so much historical information has been lost or surrended because specialist knowledge is consulted after the fact.

It obviously needs imagination, so it should be kept away from Glasgow City Council and local politicians if at all possible.

Could this be the site for a decommission submarine? There needs to be a better connection between the centre of town and this site, a walking trail perhaps, taking in Glasgow’s shipping, trade, and slave history?

1. There should be a link bridge across to the Science Centre. 2. There should be a direct pedestrian route on the riverside between the millennium bridge and the Riverside Museum. 3. The QE2 should be purchased and moored at the quayside across the river from the Graving Docks.

I think there is potential for creative spaces at the docks. I see Govan as being a driving force as not just Glasgow but Scotland’s film hub, and having studio spaces etc for use of both amateur and professional film makers. Just a thought that perhaps needs more work before being proposed!

Garden Festival

It should be people who have the best interest of the dock for all of Glasgow. Not politicians, or the Glasgow city council who have no vision and do not consult the people who could benefit the people of Govan and surrounding areas. Look to the future and create something that will be of interest that people will travel to see and enjoy.

In question no. 1 I think a mix of Museum / Heritage Centre with some sort of boat building facility incorporated to encourage young shipbuilders to build boats would make the project more ‘alive and current than purely as a Heritage Centre. That said, yes of course part of uit should tell the history of the Govan graving docks and the community through the years. I also think it will be a crying shame to obliterate and raze the graving docks to the ground for a housing development.. Ship building should be remembered and could perhaps be a catalyst for new projects. I also like the idea of having replica boats built and then displayed and perhaps used a for short excursions trips on the Clyde

Addition of a marina to generate an income stream to support and maintain the project in the future

I believe that a marina was planned or proposed as part of the development for the area and this should be retained as an integral part of the plans for the site as it is in keeping with the link with the sea.

A boating pond, with different naval vessels on it, to scale of course, that parents with children could use safely. Also, make the site as child friendly as possible, capture the interest of the child early they could be your future volunteers. PS; definitely disabled access, thank you.

There was once a ship building museum at Braehead. It moved to the Scottish Maritime Museum at Irvine. Perhaps it should move again to Govan Dry Docks. In West Central Scotland is there room for 2 ship building museums plus the ships section at the nearby Riverside Museum.

Is there still some viable experience of working in the Govan Graving Docks to draw on.

I believe a walking tour, including a cycle path, along the Clyde, both sides, right down to Glasgow Green, would be great. With signs, photo stands, graphics and sculptures telling what & when used to stand where and it’s purpose on the Clyde. We’ve lost our awareness of just how important our river was / is. Linking the docks up with various sites along the stretch, with art studios & cafes to stop at is something I would do. It would be educational as well as a great day out. Birmingham & Manchester are great examples of how to use our waterways.

Usage should include making better use of the river as well.

In line with previous comments – unique structure – like Dubai and each block a unique build – an inverted pyramid constructed with oil platform strength and design – or The Globe – a sphere which rotates 1 degree every day so that occupiers wake up to a different city view each morning. Challenging – of course but it would re-establish Glasgow as a destination and for tourists as well as design gurus! Mad – possibly, worth consideration – absolutely!

Museum of the peoples and their use of the Clyde. The Britons, Picts, Celts vikings, Normans, etc including modern day Scots . Similar to Yorvik centre or New Lanark.

I don’t think it should be used to price out the people of govan and should be turned into something that will last a long time and not something just to make a quick buck or only for the ‘luvvies’

Properly administered and operated the site could be employed as a ‘center’ for maintaining ship/boat building and ship/boat repair skills within the West of Scotland area. Once established such a ‘center’ could be further developed to operate as a training facility to ensure the development and retention of these skills in forthcoming generations and towards providing much needed local skilled employment.

Restore the site to its original condition and I would like LIFE brought back to the river with maybe a marina and river boats for entertainment / restaurants / bars on the boats – life has to be brought back to the fabulous docks and the Clyde

Provide land and water based secure storage and berthing if possible for marine craft and available rented premises for commercial marine chandlers etc. to generate income to support heritage, educational facilities and museum. Smaller lock-ups for strictly public mariners under terms and conditions etc. A slipway for small non-commercial craft and public to use (including marine emergency services).

Is it viable to reopen them as they were?

Floating warship museum, employing ex military personnel with live in accomodation

I think with the right investment it could become a big tourist draw like Titanic in Belfast. We do not celebrate our heritage enough in Glasgow and our shipbuilding was known throughout the world.

Although I have indicated preferences for involvement of a wider community than Govan, nevertheless the people of Govan will have to live with whatever emerges in fuiture and so they must be part of the movement.

As someone who has lived in Finnieston for 40 + years I would love to see the river come back to life with a combined maritime museum and leisure centre also encouraging use of the river for sport and leisure, sailing clubs, rowing clubs, canoeing clubs. Also protecting and educating about the wildlife on and in the river, perhaps otters wildfowl etc. I would also love to see the two rotundas and the tunnel renovated as it was possible to walk through it when I first moved to this part of Glasgow as a student.

I think the tall ship should be moored in one of the dry docks if the heritage park idea was to go ahead, if the docks were restored to a working facility then any repairs to the tall ship or others could be undertaken there, and if i am right as the docks are grade A listed the council could easily do a compulsary purchase on them as the are not being maintained as a grade a listing dictates

Do NOT let the City Council near this! They’ll make a complete hash of it – like they did with Fastlink

I would like to see a mixed use of land incorporating a working dry docks, a heritage centre and an inspirational landscape planting scheme (along the lines of the London Olympics) to cheer the whole place up. e.g. You could use grey leaved plants and grasses to give the impression of waves (as on roundabouts in Plymouth) plus blocks of colour to denote boats on the waves. Radically, to tie in with this, I see the derelict site on the opposite side of the river (directly opposite the Transport Museum) being a huge flower field e.g. lavender/ sunflowers / pussy willow etc like a Dutch tulip field: for the people of Glasgow to gaze at, walk amongst and to be harvested. It would be a crowd puller even if only temporary until building takes place. I am currently starting an inner city flower farm in West End and am a garden designer.

If the docks were restored for use, as well as a museum it could host a boat building/repair facility particularly for traditional boating, such as canal boats and replica boat building/craft demonstration

Vital not to let the space be privatised or overly commercialized. It should be preserved to some extent and made into a space for the public to enjoy.

A section of ship in the drydock showing how work was carried out in the past. With an information centre similar to clydebuilt telling the history of the drydock and the ships that have been there on site.

1. Build a bridge for easy access to transport museum 2. approach Jim McCall to link in with an apprentice scheme which ties in with his long term vision for shipbuilding in the Clyde 3. work towards a flotilla of vessels as part of the the museum path. My greatest loss when the old Transport museum closed was the reduction of ship models on display. Have a unique display at govan 4. dredge clyde 5. long term transport link/ facilities link with Greenock and clydebank shipbuilding and railways are our heritage learn from new lanark

These docks must be preserved. It is absolutely scandalous that Glasgow’s world-beating shipbuilding heritage is not recognised within the city. This is too important an opportunity to miss.

Just get them out of the hands of New City Vision who are already about to start destroying North Kelvin Meadow

Full survey results at http://cdpi.org.uk/govan_docks_surveys.htm

Sustanable Cargo Sailing Ships

Renaissance in sailing ships for emissions-free, sustainable cargo.

We could build, maintain and load/offload these ships in Govan Graving Docks.

It would mean a secure, sustainable future for Govan Graving Docks and Glasgow shipbuilding as well as offer skills preservation opportunities for young and long-term unemployed people as an integral part of a major maritime heritage attraction.

For examples of how this is being done already see – http://sailingdog.org/sail-freight-projects-around-the-world/

Social Media Blitz: Please Help Us Spread the Word

This week CDPI published a detailed report on the planning history of Govan Graving Docks which demonstrates clearly that a major housing development at the historic dry dock site is neither feasible nor desirable.


We also want to produce a documentary film about Govan Graving Docks and have launched a fundraising campaign on Crowdfunder.co.uk. However we need to raise £6,500 for this in the crowdfunder by 29th December 2016 or we won’t get a penny!


From today and over the weekend we are asking you to help us out with a massive social media blitz – to spread the word about the planning history report and the crowdfunding campaign – far and wide to as many people as possible. Also to get more signatures on the petition:


We have the developers on the ropes now and it’s time for a huge push to deliver the final Coup de Grace for private housing proposals and ensure Govan Graving Docks is protected as a maritime asset for future generations and the benefit of the community.

We’re only five months away from the local government elections. Huge pressure needs to be put on politicians in Glasgow and at Holyrood to acknowledge the state of Govan Graving Docks and how long the site has been derelict.

Report on the Planning History of Govan Graving Docks

A 20 page detailed report into the planning history of Govan Graving Docks that demonstrates redevelopment of the site for housing is not viable on a number of grounds.

The report also questions the historic role of public sector agencies and aims to identify lessons that can be learned from past experiences.

Executive Summary

The report will look in some detail, at the history of planning and development proposals for Govan Graving Docks, since the closure of the site as a working dock facility.

The core of our thesis is that an extensive redevelopment of Govan Graving Docks for residential and commercial use is not feasible on grounds of desirability/popularity, financial viability, technical viability, industrial/maritime heritage concerns and the A-listed status of the site. The information we have researched and collated in this report will serve unequivocally to prove that.

On the basis of research conducted in preparing this report; we have concluded that in order for a housing development at Govan Graving Docks to be financially viable, meet the exceptionally high infrastructure / site preparation costs and provide any return on investment for shareholders and investors – it would need to be an exclusive luxury development with property prices well above the average for the local area. Given the site is bounded by primarily social housing it is questionable whether this could be achieved.

The site has continued to lie derelict for 28 years despite several proposals for housing redevelopment having been put forward and later shelved for various reasons. We have concluded that housing/commercial proposals for such a prominent site as Govan Graving Docks would have gone ahead already had they any real viability and prospect of success.

The report also aims to raise questions of whether a private sector property developer is the most appropriate type of organisation to be entrusted with the stewardship of one of the most unique and significant maritime heritage assets in Europe.

We aim to demonstrate that Local Government strategy in dealing with Govan Graving Docks has in the past lacked objectivity, coherence and consistency in the time that the site has been derelict. Further that this has not aligned with stated policy objectives aimed at encouraging regeneration of the River Clyde corridor. Additionally the approach of the Scottish Government (formerly the Scottish Executive) and previously the Scottish Office prior to devolution has largely been passive. This report is not intended to level criticism at public bodies or officials but simply to identify lessons that can be learned from past experiences.

Clear opportunity to create a major maritime heritage centre at Govan Graving Docks was twice presented during the 1990s however there is no evidence that these proposals received the requisite municipal or political support beyond the granting of planning consent. This is an oversight that was particularly surprising given that Glasgow (once referred to as the “Second City of the Empire”) was once synonymous with maritime and shipbuilding industry. Yet the city does very little to preserve and promote its heritage.

The work of artists such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh is widely celebrated as part of Glasgow’s cultural heritage and rightly so. But what too of the legacy of the shipbuilding pioneers and the graft of thousands of shipyard and dock workers?

Proposals to create a major maritime centre (along with a social enterprise hub) at Govan Graving Docks, that would draw visitors/tourists and contribute immensely to the local economy in the long-term, have emerged once again alongside a campaign that has drawn wide support. This has been coupled with a strategy to create social enterprise and micro business franchise opportunities for young and unemployed people from the Glasgow area, alongside proposed nature reserve areas, studio/workshop space, stalls and a facility for historic ship repair, replica build projects and skills preservation. The proposals are about much more than just maritime heritage and would transform Govan Graving Docks into a cultural hub and centre of community.

The greatest potential threat to the emerging opportunity to create a maritime park is the time needed for detailed proposals to be carefully formed and thus the potential for attempts to streamline the planning process and fast track the plans of housing developers – a scenario that could see Govan Graving Docks lost as an historic site permanently.

The full report and summary of key points are available at http://cdpi.org.uk/case_studies.htm

Our Appeal to the Information Commissioner

Earlier this year CDPI submitted a freedom of information request request to Glasgow City Council for information relating to Govan Graving Docks.

The Council responded stating that the information we requested was covered by the Environmental Information regulations and not freedom of information. Additionally that there would be a fee of £370.98 to access the information.

Subsequently we submitted an appeal to the Information Commissioner – download the IC’s decision (which includes a summary of the information requested) – decision-208-2016