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/

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/

Govan Graving Docks’ 118th Birthday #SaveGovanDocks

Next week on Wednesday 27th April it will be exactly 118 years since the opening of No. 3 dry dock at Govan – the large dry dock nearest to Govan Rd.

Govan Graving Docks in Glasgow, Scotland
No. 3 dry dock at Govan Graving Docks

This was the last dry dock to be built at Govan and it pre-dates the former Burgh of Govan becoming part of the City of Glasgow.

Commissioned by James Deas, Chief Engineer of the Clyde Navigation Trust, this was the deepest dry dock in Britain when it opened and it could accommodate the largest ships in the world at the time. The walls are constructed from hand carved granite blocks. Anecdotally it is claimed to have been the largest dry dock in Europe (and the world) when it was built.

Length: 880ft (268.3m)
Width: 83ft (25.3m)
Depth: 26ft 6ins (8.1m)

At 417 ft (127m)  the tower at Glasgow Science Centre in the background is currently the tallest building in Scotland. If it were lying on its side it could fit end to end twice inside the dock and still leave room. Will it still be standing after 118 years? For further comparison; One Canada Square, the tallest skyscraper at Canary Wharf in London (and the tallest building in the UK until completion of the Shard), is 771ft (235m) tall.

What should we do with it now? Fill it in to make a car park perhaps?

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

You can see some fascinating old photos of the docks on the Scotland’s Places website.

More images on the Virtual Mitchell website including this interesting one of the plaque to mark the opening of the dock. We don’t know what happened to this plaque or if it still exists (or exactly where the location in the photo is) but if anyone can help us find out please get in touch.

Let’s make the 120th anniversary of this dock in 2018 one to really celebrate!

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Graving Docks Stories

We would like to hear from anyone who worked in or knew family members or friends who worked in Govan Graving Docks while they were still in operation up until 1987. What stories do you have to relate about the graving docks, ships that were maintained in them, etc?

Please add comments to the blog or send your stories to info@cdpi.org.uk

Also if you have old photographs or video footage of the dry docks when they were in use that would be of interest please let us know.