PART OF THE The Christmas Issue ISSUE

‘I became determined to recapture some of the atmosphere of what was a lost era, unlikely to return.’

Until recently Glasgow was a major European port. Newly updated from the original 1986 publication, Half Of Glasgow’s Gone describes the port’s heyday, decline, neglect and subsequent redevelopment.

Extract from Half Of Glasgow’s Gone
By Michael Dick
Published by Brown, Son and Ferguson

Having been brought up in the country, I did not have many opportunities to visit Glasgow Harbour as a youngster.  However, I do have very vague recollections of a school trip in 1959 to Gourock, when one of the highlights was the cruise down-river from Glasgow. Clearer memories emerged from the early 1960’s when I began to holiday with relatives at Sandbank on the Holy Loch, and sometimes took the cruise on the Queen Mary II from Bridge Wharf or the up-river cruise from Dunoon.

My passion for ships developed during that period and these excursions gave me a very clear picture of the great volume of shipping using facilities on the River Clyde.  Trading vessels, of course, were to be seen predominantly in the Harbour but in the general confines of the River there were also ships being repaired; being built; being fitted-out and, sadly, being broken up.

My last cruise down-river in 1969 showed little radical change from 1959 save the demise of several shipyards and the novelty of the container terminal at Greenock. Even then you could not imagine Glasgow being anything other than a thriving port.

In spite of being employed in the Inverclyde area since 1971, for a while I lost track of the changing situation, especially within the Harbour.  It was an incident one day in 1982 that led to the subsequent research which made me aware of the current position. Although I had made numerous crossings of the Kingston Bridge over the years, it was only then – and quite by chance – that I caught a glimpse of the former Kingston Dock, from the south-bound carriageway.  It lay far below the Bridge, by the south bank of the river amid an overgrown wilderness.  This aroused my curiosity and a subsequent investigation revealed a similar position at Prince’s and Queen’s Docks and that any vessels at riverside berths were in fact laid up. The Harbour had certainly lapsed into a state of decline within a relatively short period.

I became determined to recapture some of the atmosphere of what was a lost era, unlikely to return – through photographs, anecdotes and reported incidents.  The contrasting view today is presented mainly through photographs and although generally one of bleakness and desolation, there are many aspects which reflect positive developments – albeit not strictly maritime.

This is an enhanced and updated second edition of the second edition of the 1986 book. Many of its black and white photographs have been enlarged, and there is a new colour photograph section, plus an additional chapter on Glasgow’s dockers.

– Michael Dick January 2017

Half Of Glasgow’s Gone by Michael Dick is out now published by Brown, Son and Ferguson priced £16.50.

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