Tag Archives: govan graving docks

Second Petition

A second petition has been created calling on the Scottish Government to designate Govan Graving Docks as a scheduled monument.


It is noteworthy that Govan Graving Docks is situated in the First Minister’s constituency.


Heritage Park White Paper

The draft white paper on the proposal for a heritage park at Govan Graving Docks is now available to download in PDF format. You may share and redistribute this document provided it is not edited in any way.

Govan Graving Docks Proposal – Draft White Paper Aug 2014 (PDF)

Govan Graving Docks Heritage Park
A conceptual proposal for the redevelopment of Govan Graving Docks in Glasgow as a
shipbuilding and maritime heritage park

Executive Summary

This paper presents a conceptual proposal for the redevelopment of the Govan Graving Docks in Glasgow as a shipbuilding and maritime heritage park.

The heritage park proposal puts forward a mix of residential (berths for live-aboard boats) and small-scale commercial development complementing an area of public realm quaysides, landscaped gardens, market space, ecology and nature reserve areas and museum heritage displays and exhibitions including restored vessels.

The wider context of previous development proposals for Govan Graving Docks and the socio-economic impact of the proposal is acknowledged and addressed, as well as the need to include community stakeholders moving forward. The challenges that will be faced in seeking to create a heritage park development will also be identified with a view to soliciting expert feedback.

The proposal makes as it’s core assertion that there is an inadequate level of recognition in Glasgow of the city’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage and that a heritage park at Govan Graving Docks would address this in a way that befits the key role these industries played in the city’s history and growth. Glasgow is synonymous the world over with shipbuilding and related industries however very little trace of the city’s industrial past remains. Govan Graving Docks is the only remaining major industrial dock complex on the Upper Clyde that has not been filled to make way for modern developments and may represent the only remaining opportunity to create a heritage site of this kind. Such opportunity would be permanently lost were the site used to create luxury housing. While new housing development will be very necessary in the years to come there is adequate derelict or disused land elsewhere in Glasgow with little historic interest and which is more suitable for extensive construction. Furthermore waterfront housing developments tend to be at the premium end of the market and this is not where housing supply inadequacies are currently found.

Glasgow is widely associated with shipbuilding and maritime industries as well as more recently with the industrial decline that the industries left in their wake. Clyde-built ships travelled throughout the world and were instrumental in development of the British Empire and trade with the colonies and other overseas territories. It is therefore apparent that there is an opportunity to develop this heritage in a way that appeals to a wide range of interests. While other cities with notable maritime heritage (for example Dundee [26], Liverpool [27] and Cardiff [28]) have developed their waterfronts extensively in a way that celebrates their maritime past there is very little development of this kind in Glasgow and no coherent strategy for the development of the city’s waterfront overall.

Wider spatial planning for Glasgow waterfront is outside of the scope of this paper but it is hoped that future strategy development by local planners will have a positive impact on the future of Govan Graving Docks. It is also possible that a development of Govan Graving Docks that is founded on heritage and conservation will have a positive influence on strategies for other developments along the Clyde Corridor in the future.

This paper does not answer all of the questions the proposal raises nor are the questions raised an exhaustive list of the challenges that must be met if a heritage park is to be delivered but it is hoped it will bring on board serious engagement from those with the resources and expertise necessary to assist in making a heritage park a reality.

Govan Graving Docks Proposal – Draft White Paper Aug 2014 (PDF)

Glasgow CDP Consultation – Making Representations

The Glasgow City Development plan consultation ends on Friday 27th June so you will need to make representations before 4pm on that date.

I strongly urge all petition supporters resident in Glasgow to make a representation to the City Council seeking for the re-zoning of Govan Graving Docks.

You can make representations using the forms and resources at http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/developmentplan

With regards to the Graving Docks this site is under housing policy proposal no. H015 which is on Page 15 of the ‘Location Plans of Housing Proposals’ PDF at http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11752

You can use the same process if you wish to make representations on any other aspect of the City Development Plan consultation.

With regards to the Graving Docks I suggest completing the form (http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=19282&p=0) as follows:
(You can either print or submit the form via e-mail)

Section 2: Proposed City Development Plan

Section 3: Proposal Number – H015

Section 4: Seek a change (objection)

Section 5:
I would like the Govan Graving Docks site to be re-zoned to disallow residential development, to disallow filling in of any of the docks and to restrict any permanent new build on the site to small commercial units on the quay between No.3 dry dock and Govan Road. The site should be designated as a heritage conservation area enabling a shipbuilding/maritime heritage park to be created. The dry docks should be restored to working order so that the water levels can be controlled and the pump house should be secured against further deterioration until it is renovated.

Section 6:
It would be best if you write a submission in your own words, rather than have everyone copy and paste the same text, but as an example here is a draft of what I intend to submit:

This is the last remaining historic dock complex in Glasgow that has not been filled to make way for modern developments. When the dry docks at Govan were built they were capable of accommodating the largest ships in the world and represent an important feature of Glasgow’s maritime industrial history. Thus they should be protected from any redevelopment that would destroy the historic character of the site. A housing development on this site would permanently destroy the last opportunity to create a major showcase of the history of Glasgow’s docks and maritime industries.

Far too much of Glasgow’s architectural and industrial heritage has already been destroyed to make way for modern developments that have had mixed successes.

The site is Grade-A listed and identified in the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland as being at risk. I fail to understand how residential development could be undertaken without alteration of the site beyond what the Grade-A listed status would permit. The capacity of housing envisaged in Proposal H015 would likely necessitate the filling in of the dry docks and/or the basin. Furthermore the quays may not all have the load bearing capacity necessary to allow major construction on them without extensive excavation and reconstruction beyond what would be allowable for a Grade-A listed site.

Almost 1,000 people have now signed an online petition calling for the site to be restored as a shipbuilding heritage park. I have developed a detailed concept of what a heritage park would involve – parts of which have already been published and it is my intention to publish and submit a White Paper on a heritage park development in due course.

The White Paper will outline the scope for tourism, education and job creation opportunities that a heritage park at Govan Graving Docks would entail. As well as accommodating a major permanent exhibition of the maritime and shipbuilding history of the Clyde – the park could include landscaped gardens, nature reserve areas, space for market huts, street food stalls and commercial units created along the Govan Road edge that would accommodate bars, café, restaurants, small shops, offices and creative spaces with a stipulation that they would be given priority lease to new local businesses.

It is envisaged that the basin to the West of the docks could be used to accommodate a marina for residential and visitor moorings and this could be developed as a model for sustainable living. The land adjoining the basin should be used to create a nature reserve / ecology park area. Furthermore the entire park could be developed as a model for sustainable development by incorporating nature reserve areas, installing solar charged lighting as well as solar panels on roofs of huts and marquees. There should be an overall strategy for the park to be a carbon-neutral development.

The heritage park campaign seeks for the dry docks to be restored to working order so that the water levels can be controlled. It is anticipated that graving work on historic preservation ships could be done in one of the docks (most likely No. 2 dry dock) in a way that would showcase the skills involved in the context of a visitor attraction. It is anticipated the largest dock (No. 3 dry dock) could be used to accommodate floating gardens, bird rafts, small barges for work spaces and stepped gardens on the dock wall while the existing stairwells could provide access to pontoons.

The pump house should be restored creating a visitor centre and café. This could include archive video footage / photographs projected on large screens and interactive media covering the history of the graving docks, their use and the wider maritime industry on the Clyde. A new promenade quay wall should be constructed along the riverbank behind the pump house. Currently the wall alongside the river is crumbling and in a very poor state.

It is hoped a trust organisation would be established to run the heritage park as a non-profit venture and include the local communities and wider stakeholders in the remaining maritime industries in the West of Scotland in shaping its future.

I can see no benefit to Govan or to Glasgow from a redevelopment of the site that would consist primarily of luxury apartments, especially when there is plenty of derelict land elsewhere of little historic interest that is opportune for such use – e.g. below Glasgow Harbour on the North bank. By contrast a heritage park as a thriving urban quarter that takes maritime history as it basis would attract visitors and encourage more beneficial forms of investment in the surrounding area rather than merely lining the pockets of property speculators (something we have already seen very negative economic consequences of). While developments like the flats at Glasgow Harbour are desirable in a contemporary context, it is unlikely that people will be inspired by them in a hundred years time.

The first priority for Govan Graving Docks must be to suspend any prospect of development until the heritage park concept has been fully explored and to rule out housing or other construction in the dry docks entirely. If the heritage park proposal cannot proceed in the short-term then the site should be made safe for public access by installing balustrades and covering the open shafts in the quays – leaving the site as a fallow community space until its future has been decided.

I am of the opinion that the owners of the site have allowed it to deteriorate in violation of the statues on maintenance of Grade-A listed sites and Govan Graving Docks is not the only site they have allowed to deteriorate.

There is evidence of subsidence throughout the site and on the quays. The wall along the river behind the pump house is crumbling and appears to be at risk of further collapse. There are also cracks in the walls above the arches of the pump house that appear to be a result of subsidence and this may need to be supported to prevent risk of any further structural damage or collapse pending renovation. Shafts inside the pump house are rusted filled with water, which is likely to have risen through remains of the hydraulic mechanisms. The source of this water needs to be determined as well as whether the structure is watertight and whether any leakage could damage the foundations of the pump house.

The Council needs to act to counter the widely held belief among citizens that it is allowing the city’s architectural heritage to deteriorate to an extent that necessitates demolition, to make way for new build, as well as to dispel rumours and innuendo of corrupt property deals and deliberate destruction of listed buildings that abound in online forums. There seems to be a widely held impression that the planning process in Glasgow City is a joke, takes no real account of public opinion and is not fit for purpose. I hope the current CDP will be taken as an opportunity to prove this wrong.

It beggars belief that a city known the world over for shipbuilding and which at one time built many of the largest ships in the world does not have a major legacy and tribute to this heritage.

Further information and resources for a heritage park proposal can be found on the campaign blog at https://shipbuildingheritage.wordpress.com

There is also a petition calling for the creation of a heritage park at Govan Graving Docks at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/glasgow-city-council-restore-govan-graving-docks-in-glasgow-to-create-a-shipbuilding-heritage-park-savegovandocks



Site Ownership

The Govan Graving Docks site is currently owned by a company called Bishop Loch Developments (Scotland) Limited which is part of the New City Vision Group. The parent company which owns 75% of the group is a company called Cannon Kirk Limited which is registered in the Republic of Ireland.

According to information on public record there are three loans secured on the Govan Graving Docks site with Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Enterprise Glasgow. Allied Irish also holds a floating charge over Bishop Loch Developments (Scotland) Ltd and all of its present and future assets. This information suggests that public money has been lent to the company by Scottish Enterprise however the existence of a floating charge held by another creditor may raise questions over the security of SE’s loan and the probity of SE providing such finance.

Scottish Enterprise and Bank of Scotland also provided secured loans on the graving docks site to a previous owner; Citycanal Ltd and Bank of Scotland also held a floating charge over that company. It appears that these loans were still listed as outstanding when Citycanal Ltd was wound up. Bishop Loch Developments (Scotland) Ltd held a majority stake in Citycanal Ltd.

I suggest interested parties look at this information and the connected companies in some detail.




Windex Ltd (name changed to Portmuir Ltd before winding up) was served a repair notice for the Govan Graving Docks in 1989 by Glasgow District Council according to an article in the Glasgow Herald. I have not yet been able to determine what actions followed from that repair notice.

I am only stating the facts that are a matter of public record and I am not commenting further for legal reasons as I don’t have the full picture. However I suggest people interested in examining this information in detail look at the interrelationship of these companies going back to 1989 and cross reference the board of directors of Windex/Portmuir with Citycanal. I find it interesting that people involved with the site ownership at the time of the 1989 repair order in were still involved up until 2005, despite no evidence repairs were ever carried out.


Deterioration of the Pump House

Deterioration of the pump house at Govan Graving Docks

The image shows a large crack appearing above the left arch, just to the right of the key stone and the blocks are out of alignment by several centimetres. This may be due to subsidence. It may be that this will need to be scaffolded until permanent repairs can be carried out to prevent risk of a partial collapse of this wall. Click on the image to zoom in.

It appears that the site has been allowed to deteriorate, in a manner that clearly violates the regulations on maintenance of Grade-A listed sites, for which owners have statutory duty of care. This is what is stated on the Historic Scotland website:

What will happen if I don’t repair my listed building?

If you fail to keep a listed building in a reasonable state of repair, the planning authority may serve a Repairs Notice. If you fail to comply with this notice the planning authority, with the consent of the Scottish Ministers, may be entitled to acquire it through compulsory purchase.

If you deliberately neglect the building to justify its demolition and redevelopment of the site, the planning authority can buy the building at a price which excludes the value of the land for redevelopment.

Planning authorities are able to undertake urgent works to preserve an unoccupied listed building (or unoccupied parts of an occupied listed building), provided that the owner is given seven days notice of the intention. The cost of these urgent works can be reclaimed from the owner.

The images below show the state of the bank along the riverside behind the pump house where there has been erosion and partial collapse of the wall.

Deterioration of the river wall at Govan Graving Docks Deterioration of the river wall at Govan Graving Docks

Below a shaft in the floor of the pump house which has rusted and filled with waterpumphouse_shaft

There is also evidence of subsidence on other areas of the site and cracks showing in the quay wall opposite Pacific Quay.

Heritage Park Job Creation

A rough estimate shows that the heritage park as proposed in the design concept could create up to 289 permanent full time jobs, in the park and leased commercial facilities, including commercial units on Govan Road, market huts, food stalls and proposed floating facilities.

The assumptions used in arriving at this figure are as follows. If you think this figure should be larger or smaller please post in the comments.

  •  Up to 15 small commercial units on the quay in the block along Govan Road, average of 3 staff per unit  (45)
  • 16-18 food stalls, average 4 staff per stall (72)
  • 36 Market huts, average 2 staff per hut (72)
  • 12 staff for floating bar
  • 30 staff for restored ship (restaurant, conference/banqueting facilities, possible hotel)
  • 4 Staff for exhibition marquee
  • 6 Staff for pump house cafe
  • 6 staff for pump house visitor centre
  • 4 general maintenance staff
  • 2 nature reserve wardens
  • 15 security staff
  • 5 curators
  • 10 miscellaneous staff
  • 6 Admin and managment staff