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/


Press Release: Govan Docks Maritime Park

Glasgow, Scotland 30 September 2016

Govan Docks Maritime Park

The Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative (CDPI) are pleased to announce the successful registration of Govan Docks Maritime Park (Scottish registered charity no. SC046875) as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) with the charity regulator OSCR.

This represents a significant step forward in our bid to secure the future of Govan Graving Docks as a maritime heritage asset for future generations and for the benefit of the community in Govan and Glasgow.

The aim is for Govan Docks Maritime Park as an independent, dedicated charity, to eventually secure ownership of the A-listed historic site and raise funds for its restoration.

This will guarantee the long-term protection and stewardship of the only remaining significant dockland site in Glasgow that has not been lost to redevelopment and the only opportunity to create a major maritime heritage centre that befits the significance of our great city’s shipbuilding past. It will also ensure that benefit to the local community, the City of Glasgow, the Clyde region and the West of Scotland’s visitor, tourism and maritime potential is put before commercial gain and speculative property development.

The exact formation of the maritime park will be influenced by ongoing consultation. It is likely it will include a diverse range of attractions, activities, social enterprises, educational facilities, nature reserve, etc that will operate different aspects rather than the entire park being run as a single corporate entity.

The intention is to create independent/cooperative social enterprise franchise opportunities with a particular focus on young and unemployed people from the local areas and to engage a range of relevant third-party support agencies to assist them in the process of setting them up. We expect that major chains – e.g. fast-food outlets, etc will be excluded entirely.

It will be an evolutionary process that will enable the franchise tenants and the community to shape the development of the maritime park through the types of micro-businesses they choose to set up.

We have previously estimated that capacity for up to 250 or more permanent jobs and micro-business / social enterprise opportunities could potentially be created.

However before any of that can happen major restorative work will be required. This will take several years to complete and require millions of pounds in funding (on top of acquisition costs) which the charity aims to raise via heritage/conservation grants and other sources.

Restricting the addition of permanent buildings to the edge along Govan Road will ensure the rest of the quay space (including the cobbled surfaces) is kept intact. Use of the space will be able to change and adapt over time by use of only free-standing structures on the quays and floating installations in the dock basins. We would also like to see restored ships berthed in the docks and aim to provide a facility for at least part of the Cutty Sark 2 replica build.

CDPI aims to continue to provide project management and administrative services to the Govan Docks Maritime Park SCIO and we have just appointed a management consultant with a background in civil engineering to our board of directors.

We wish to thank OSCR for their guidance and efficient processing of the application and of course everyone else who has assisted with the process so far.


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.

Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative One Year On

The Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative is now just over a year old. We certainly can’t say it has been a dull year – a rollercoaster certainly but far from dull!

Govan No. 3 dry dock
Govan No. 3 dry dock depth marker

Since incorporating in June 2015 our efforts have received over £110,000 worth of pro-bono / speculative work and services in kind.

To those who have helped us out we can’t possibly begin to thank-you enough and over the next 12 months we aim to step up our efforts to save and restore Govan’s unique, historic graving docks.

We have also managed to exceed 7,300 signatures on the petition for a maritime heritage park at Govan Graving Docks – a proposal CDPI was established primarily to pursue.

We have also identified other derelict maritime assets along the Clyde corridor that are opportune for restoration/preservation for the benefit of local communities and the economy of the region.

Our priority though is Govan Graving Docks and we are working with a planning consultant on the process of developing a masterplan for a maritime park that will have wide-ranging benefits and opportunities for Govan and Glasgow, for the Clyde Corridor and for young people from the area. We aim to have a plan ready to present to Glasgow City Council by 2020 at the latest.

There is uncertainty ahead with the outcome of the EU referendum. Though on the plus side, with the impact it appears to be having on the property market and investor confidence, we can say with some certainty that the plans of developers for housing at the graving docks are now very likely dead in the water.

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If you would like to support the work of The Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative, by making a one off or regular donation, you can do so via PayPal. Please contact us if you prefer to pay by cheque or bank transfer.

Call for a Public Inquiry Into Govan Graving Docks

We are calling on the Scottish Government, The Secretary of State for Scotland and The Lord Advocate to launch a full public inquiry into Govan Graving Docks.

We have reason to suspect that Glasgow City Council and certain Council members are preparing an agenda to railroad through the plans of housing developers despite overwhelming public opposition to housing development at the site.

The Petition

Please sign the petition calling for a public inquiry at https://www.change.org/p/scottish-government-launch-a-public-inquiry-into-govan-graving-docks

The dry docks at Govan – Govan Graving Docks – were completed in the late nineteenth century with the last one to be built, the large dock nearest to Govan Road, opening on 27th April 1898.

Commissioned by James Deas, the Chief Engineer of the Clyde Navigation Trust, No. 1 dry dock and No. 3 dry dock were the deepest dry docks in Britain when opened and could accommodate the largest ships in the world of the time. They pre-date the former burgh of Govan being incorporated into the City of Glasgow. The docks were used to repair and refit hundreds of Clydebuilt ships and were in active use until the late 1980s.

Since closing down the site has lain derelict and for much of that time it has continued to lie derelict and deteriorating in the ownership of several connected companies.

The walls of the dry docks are built from grey granite some of which is hand carved and are category A-listed. The only remaining building on the site is the sandstone pump house for No.1 dry dock. Also an A-listed building it is in poor condition with only the walls and a few roof beams remaining. Govan Graving Docks is a significant piece of Glasgow’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage and is the only major historic dock complex on the Upper Clyde that has not been filled in to make way for modern redevelopments.

We are now calling on the Scottish Government to initiate a full and thorough public inquiry into the status and ownership history of Govan Graving Docks since their closure in 1988.

An inquiry must also look at the role of Glasgow City Council (and historically at Glasgow District and Strathclyde Region councils) in failing to help secure the site despite several proposals for maritime museum or similar restorations having been put forward since 1989.

It has been claimed that the chance to create a world-class maritime heritage centre at Govan Graving Docks during the 1990s was actively discouraged and prevented by government and development agencies. If this is the case we need answers. We need to know which agencies blocked this (and why) and individuals need to be held to account for their actions. We need to know if such behaviour is still going on today.

We need to know why such a significant piece of Glasgow’s maritime and industrial heritage has been allowed to lie derelict for so long in the hands of seemingly undercapitalised developers while a mortgage on the site has been passed into the Irish Banks NAMA toxic debt portfolio.

We need to know why for years the regulations on maintenance of listed buildings have not been adhered to at Govan Graving Docks and why title deed conditions requiring maintenance of the quay walls also appear not to have been observed.

The inquiry must establish whether there has been any public sector malfeasance in relation to Govan Graving Docks in the years since they closed down.

Please sign the petition calling for a public inquiry at https://www.change.org/p/scottish-government-launch-a-public-inquiry-into-govan-graving-docks

Can You Assist CDPI With Marketing?

The Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative are looking for a marketing and PR support partner / consultant who can assist us initially on a pro-bono/speculative basis with taking our outreach, networking and sponsor relationship management strategies to the next level.

In addition to developing plans for a maritime park at Govan Graving Docks, which is our key concern at present, we are expanding our scope throughout the Clyde Corridor to look at wider protection of maritime and heritage assets for the benefit of communities and local economies. We have identified a number of derelict sites and artefacts that are opportune for protection or restoration.

Work with our marketing partner will include further developing our strategies for:

– Ongoing development of our five-year dynamic business and marketing plans
– Optimising return on investment for our core sponsors and funding partners
– Sponsor recruitment and retention
– Community engagement (including the public and business communities)
– Media relations
– Raising the profile and level of awareness of the maritime heritage of the Clyde
– Addressing the context of modern maritime activity and sustainable opportunities
– Promoting awareness of nature and ecology in dockland / former dockland areas
– Leveraging potential for the River Clyde to once again become a thriving hub for maritime activity

While the role will initially be voluntary/speculative we anticipate that it will expand with the scope of our operations – potentially developing into a permanent position or long-term opportunity to collaborate with us on a range of exciting and innovative projects for maritime preservation.

A background involving marketing related to maritime/marine leisure, industry or shipping or social enterprise / third sector activity would be advantageous.

Interested candidates please send your CV and/or a link to your business website to info@cdpi.org.uk

CDPI Crowdfunding Appeal / Architecture Competition #SaveGovanDocks

We want to say thank-you so much again to those who have donated so far to our crowdfunding campaign.

We would not have reached this far without your generous support and encouragement but we do need to continually raise funds to be able to continue our efforts and pull out all the stops to save Govan Graving Docks.

Pump house at Govan Graving Docks
The A-listed pump house at Govan Graving Docks. A dilapidated and sorry sight that has been left to deteriorate for almost 30 years. Crying out for restoration along with the dry docks.

We are currently preparing a brief to launch a design competition for architecture students (and possibly new graduates) to develop concepts for a maritime park at Govan Graving Docks. This will form a key part of our consultation process and inform the development of an alternative masterplan.

We would also be keen to hear from professional architects who would be interested in taking part in a judging panel for the competition. We will be discussing with academic departments in due course and students interested in taking part will be able to find out more from their tutors. We will also be seeking a corporate sponsor for the competition who can offer prizes to the winning and runner-up students.

We are asking our supporters to consider making a small contribution of £3 (roughly the price of a drink or a large cappuccino!) or however much you feel you can contribute to help cover our core costs. We need to rent office space, cover fees for the amount of time our team will need to commit to our projects, professional services fees as well as other admin and outreach expenses, travel, etc which we estimate at £40,000 per year in total.

One-off or regular monthly contributions can be made via PayPal and other methods . For more info see the website at http://cdpi.org.uk/support_us.htm

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Please email us fundraising@cdpi.org.uk if you prefer to pay by bank transfer or cheque.

We are also giving supporters the opportunity to sponsor specific expense items that we require. This is particularly appropriate for business/corporate sponsors who would like to have their company name shown on our supporters page. More info at http://cdpi.org.uk/items_pledge.htm

The petition now stands at just under 7,200 signatures. If we can get it to 10,000 signatures we can potentially get the future of Govan Graving Docks debated in the Scottish Parliament after the election. So if you haven’t signed please do so, help us get national attention and get all your friends to sign at:


We thank-you for your continuing support.

Best Regards

The CDPI team

Govan Graving Docks Satellite Image