A Nature Park Next to Govan Graving Docks? #SaveGovanDocks

The wet basin to the West of Govan Graving Docks was at one time the fitting out basin for the Harland and Wolff shipyard – most of which once stood at what is now Govan Riverside and a housing estate. Only the basin and the adjacent engine shed now remain.

Wet Basin at Govan graving Docks - the former harland and Wolff fitting out basin

It was only later on that this was incorporated into the Govan Dry Dock complex, which was operated by Clydedock Engineering Ltd until it closed down in 1988.

Since the docks closed down the wooden quay around the basin has rotted and crumbled away while the land around it gradually became overgrown with trees and other vegetation until it was cleared in 2014. It has become home to nesting birds and cormorants, swans and a seal are regular visitors to the basin.

What could we do to bring the basin and the adjoining land back into use?

Perhaps it could be a nature park area with dug out ponds, fenced paths or wooden boardwalks around it and leading down to jetties on the bank.

Could the basin be partially silted to create a tidal lagoon with bird islands and a habitat for the wildlife?

There are many successful examples of urban and post-industrial nature parks in Europe and around the world.

Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park in London was created on a former dockland site:


A park like this on the waterfront close to the centre of Glasgow would attract visitors and would be of huge benefit to the local community in Govan – creating a space for people to relax and for local young people to learn about urban ecology.

There are also very clear health benefits from creating natural environments in urban settings.

Even densely populated Japan manages to address this:


Other examples

Camley Street Nature Park, London
Created in a former coal yard between the Regent’s Canal and the railway lines into Kings Cross

Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre, Grangemouth
Created on a former wasteland site

Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve
Created on former salt marsh within the tidal barrage

Vacaresti, Bucharest


Can we put Govan on the map of urban nature locations?


Some Relevant Articles and Websites:


National Geographic: How Urban Parks Are Bringing Nature Close to Home

Rotherham Centenary Riverside Urban Nature Park

Urban Nature Parks and Neighborhood Social Health in Portland, Oregon

Sheffield Urban Nature Parks Project

Scotland’s largest urban nature park given £4m lottery grant

Government of Western Australia: Parks and Wildlife

Urban Nature Parks and Individual Health
Oregon State University: Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society

The health benefits of urban nature: how much do we need?
Fuller Lab

Psychological and mental health benefits from nature and urban greenspace
Ian Douglas / University of Manchester



It’s Not Just About Maritime Heritage

The priority in preserving and restoring Govan Graving Docks is to protect the listed structures as a monument to those who built and repaired hundreds of ships in them. That means restricting the addition of any permanent buildings to the edge along Govan Road and to use maritime and shipbuilding inspired concepts in the architecture.

This will leave quay space available to use temporary free-standing buildings which will still give plenty of scope for innovation and also allow for adaptive use of the site. The dry dock basins can be used to accommodate floating units, restored ships and a working dry dock for historic ship repair, replica construction and skills preservation projects.

The aim is to provide quay space for a wide range of uses as well as small commercial units along Govan Road. The uses for these are limited only by the imagination of the small businesses, local social entrepreneurs and artists who will be engaged to bring the site back to life.

The following list gives only a few examples of what is possible. If you have ideas please add them in the comment section below.

  • Cafes, restaurants, deli shops
  • Artists studios
  • Gift shops
  • Skills preservation workshops
  • Museum displays and interactive media
  • Art and craft stalls
  • Street food stalls
  • Large and small art installations
  • Street performers / outdoor theatre
  • Seasonal festivals, river galas/regattas, community events
  • Park and recreation space
  • Floating holiday accommodation


Would you be interested in setting up a micro business or social enterprise franchise at Govan Graving Docks once it has been restored? If so please get in touch! If you know someone who would please tell them.

We’re particularly keen to hear from young and unemployed people from Govan and the wider Glasgow area as well as those who can offer specific skills and training support to help young and unemployed people develop their own cooperative franchises.

Who Will Benefit from the Restoration of Govan Graving Docks? #SaveGovanDocks

It is clear from recent media articles (http://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/fight-govans-docks-listed-glasgow-11640615) that the developers remain defiant in their belief that they can cover Govan Graving Docks in mostly private housing.

Conversely the maritime park campaign is resolute that any addition of permanent buildings to the Govan Graving Docks site should be restricted to low-rise units (probably two storeys above street level), along the edge of Govan Road, in a design appropriate to a maritime theme.

Our objective in restricting the construction of permanent buildings to the Govan Road edge is two fold – to create a boundary that merges the dock onto the street and to ensure the rest of the site is protected to allow for changes in its use over time. It will also ensure there are no alterations to the A-listed structure of the historic docks other than for their long-term preservation. This will include the restoration and retention of the existing cobbles surfaces of the quays, capstains, bollards, dock stairwells, etc.

Could we bring a dry dock back to life for ship repair? The Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative believes this is a real possibility. A working dry dock facility that is used for ship repair in the winter, when some ferries are taken out of service, would mean the quay space around it could be used to service this operation in the winter months while in the summer the space could be used for temporary events or historic ship projects.

A collective of small businesses and social enterprises at the docks would enable young people from Govan to develop their own opportunities within a maritime park setting.

Govan is an area with high levels of unemployment and poverty. A key strategy of CDPI is involving young and unemployed people from the local area in our projects. Many people have to commute out of Govan to work and doubt has once again been cast on the future of the shipyard. Govan desperately needs something with wide ranging economic benefit that the community can rally around and an internationally renowned maritime park would certainly accomplish that.

The very last thing Govan needs is a carbuncle like the mess New City Vision have made of Gartloch Hospital.

The maritime park strategy aims to integrate a collaborative micro-enterprise hub that will enable young people to set up and develop their own franchise opportunities.

To give an example if a group of young unemployed people from Govan wished to set up a juice bar or a gourmet burger stall in the maritime park we would facilitate and assist them to do this and bring in the support and training they need from a range of expert agencies. Once this was set up, it would be their own independent franchise business, within the context of the maritime park. However they would continue to receive support via CDPI and the wider co-working community that would develop in the park. Other examples could be cafes, creative studio space and skills preservation workshops. In this way the nature of the maritime park would be to a great extent shaped by the community via the types of business that franchise tenants wish to establish and demand for leisure/visitor/tourism facilities based on ongoing market research conducted by us and by franchise tenants.

In this way we will be able to create real sustainable opportunities for young people from Glasgow and most importantly this will be done in a way that gives them a great deal of control and autonomy within the wider maritime park setting.

None of that will be able to happen if New City Vision are allowed to gradually cover the site with housing.