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HERITAGE TALES From The Waters edge


HERITAGE TALES From The Waters edge


Published by Inverclyde Council & Inverclyde Community Development Trust with assistance from Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland – Heritage Grants www.hlf.org.uk No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the permission in writing from the publisher, except for the purposes of review. Printing co­ordinated by New Vision Print, Jamaica Street, Greenock First published September 2016 Design, colouring and typesetting –​Megan McGurk Research and facilitation assistants –­​Niall Ptolomey and Christie Laing Project Coordinator –​­ Kay Clark Photo credits can be found at the back of the book. Every effort has been made to contact the relevant sources for permission for use of all artwork. Thanks to all our project volunteers and the Dutch Gable House heritage team. Proofread by Wordsmith Jones Editorial Services, Greenock www.linkedin.com/in/wordsmithjoneseditorialservice Inverclyde Community Development Trust is a Company Limited by guarantee Registered in Scotland No. 116334. A Scottish Charity No. SC007212 VAT No. 809277703 Registered Office:175 Dalrymple Street, Greenock PA15 1JZ www.facebook.com/heritageinverclyde


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FOREWORD

n June 2012, I received information about a new fund called Coastal Communities and set about putting together a partnership to develop an application that would create jobs in the field of Heritage and Tourism. Our application was successful and we implemented a £425,000 project that created a unique Inverclyde heritage trail with signage, interpretation, benches and a new website. On the employment front, the funding allowed us to create twelve new Modern Apprentice opportunities in local companies. As a result of this activity, we were approached by the Heritage Lottery Fund and asked if we would submit a complimentary funding application to deliver an activity plan incorporating skills, learning and opportunities for local residents to participate in enjoying local heritage. Again we were successful and set about implementing “ A Quest for Learning” – delivered by Inverclyde Community Development Trust who already had an excellent track record in supporting local heritage activity. So there you have it, almost a million pounds of funding and whilst I have always had a strong interest even as a child in local history I didn’t realise it was going to become such a big element of my day to day job. During the last four years I have learned many things, ours is a rich heritage and I have shared many stories with friends and family including my Mother. I told her I was honoured and delighted to be writing the foreword to this book and she said “you forget yourself son, I was born in Chalmers Street in 1926, they would have been better asking me to write a story for them.” So I write the following on her behalf. A Quest for Learning has been a great project, engaging the young and the not so young across Inverclyde including twety-one primary schools, seven secondary schools and eighty-two adult volunteers. Activities have celebrated Victory Europe Day and the end of the war, young people have followed coastal trails and brought heritage to life, community volunteers have completed research and put on a play in the Dutch Gable House. There was a stunning photography exhibition and perhaps my favourite element was the competition to design a mascot, in which local schools participated, culminating in the creation of wee Andy the Anchor. This publication captures some of the outcomes from that activity and I think on completion the reader will agree it is a fabulous collection, written by inspiring people in

the local community who find magic in “Our Story”. Topics include Inverclyde’s location, the importance of being at the Tail O’ the Bank, the significant role played in our industrial history by both the River Clyde and The Cut. I was particularly fascinated by the chapter on the development of James Watt College and how the skills of the local population contributed to the significant economic growth of the area. But there is so much more information contained here for the reader, including stories about the living conditions for people and the challenges the community faced – but also some really good news about transport, leisure pursuits and developing areas of natural beauty such as the Battery Park, Lunderston Bay and the villages. I thoroughly recommend this collection; not just for the stories but throughout there are some wonderfully evocative photographs and illustrations. A Quest for Learning has indeed been a journey and an exploration of Inverclyde Heritage; building on previous activity and publications. Many people contributed to the design and delivery of the project, I don’t have space here to mention them all but I certainly note the input of Kay, Paul and all the people who were part of the delivery team – they had a great energy in that team. I also wish to thank Brian Gallagher who was in the employment of Inverclyde Council and pulled together a really strong application for the Heritage Lottery Fund. Of course none of this would have happened without the funding provided by the HLF and with some additional input from Inverclyde Council not least of which was support from Catriona Darroch. Can I also take this opportunity of offering a massive thank you to all the volunteers across this community who gave of their time and their commitment. Finally, thank you to the schools, individual teachers and the pupils who contributed, who are outstanding examples of what makes Inverclyde such a great place. I feel that the story of Inverclyde and her people deserves not just to be told but to be maintained and made available for future generations. If my experience during this Project is anything to go by, there is no shortage within this community of dedication and commitment. — Shaun Lundy


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CONTENTS

01 03 09 13 17 25 33 37

Chapter 01 Introduction

Chapter 02

The Story of Greenock’s Water Supply

Chapter 03

Early Water Systems, Greenock and Port Glasgow

Chapter 04

James Watt College in William Street, Greenock

Chapter 05 The Vennel

Chapter 06

The Tale of the Seven Stowaways

Chapter 07

The Gaels of Greenock

Chapter 08

Fort Matilda & Princes Pier

43 47 52 57 64 68 72 75

Chapter 09

Stanley Spencer

Chapter 10

Three Ancient Monuments and Oneʼs Cruel Fate

Chapter 11

The Glen, Port Glasgow

Chapter 12

Holidays “Doon the Watter”

Chapter 13

Greenock Baths and Swimming Pools

Chapter 14 Wemyss Bay

Chapter 15 Transport

Credits


• Chapter 01 •

Introduction

Above: John Fleming, “Greenock from the South East”, used in Weir’s History of the Town of Greenock (1829)

“...Its progressive improvement, from a small fishing village to its present state, has been but little more than the work of a century. Few places in the empire have made more rapid advances towards commercial importance, and no sea-port in Scotland produces greater revenues from the duties levied by the Excise and Customs. Its trade extends to every part in the world: and, during the long and arduous wars, our seamen were alike famed for their noble daring in fighting the battles of our country, as they were for their skill and enterprise in visiting foreign climates, which to many proved only but a grave.”

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n 1829, Daniel Weir wrote his ‘History of the Town of Greenock’. His writing recalls the beauty and importance of Inverclyde’s location on the Firth of the Clyde, with the river playing the most fundamental role in the area’s fortunes. It was by river that goods were imported and exported, where men and women left seeking better lives elsewhere, and where others landed in the same search. Along the river’s edge, industries sprouted, masts and cranes towering above the town. From holiday’s

“doon the watter”, to troops arriving and departing from the bustling harbours during the war, the ports of Inverclyde were busy with ships making journeys, be it to Arran or Australia. And all of this was visible from the vantage point of the Shaws Water Canal which through ingenious design, ushered a torrent of water from Loch Thom, via sluices and falls, down into the river, feeding industries and communities alike.

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“The beauty and importance of Inverclyde’s location on the Firth of the Clyde, played a fundamental role in the area’s fortunes.”


“The walks about the place are unequalled in the vicinity of any other town in Europe, and they may be had of any length. The traveller may have mountain saunterings or level rides in different directions, and without almost ever losing sight of at least some peep of the beautiful and picturesque scenery of the Clyde.”

Left: Old West Kirk, with Cairns shipyard in the background Below: View from the Old Largs Road with Greenock Cemetery

Water has brought about the development of Inverclyde, from its small beginnings as a collection of small fishing communities, to an industrial force of Great Britain; and now as an export capital, welcoming tourists from the many cruise liners which visit. These pages document this progression, through shared stories and memories from across Inverclyde’s rich and varied history, which has always been connected to the river.

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• Chapter 02 •

The Story of Greenock’s Water Supply Alexander Hardie, John McQuarrie,  and the Dutch Gable Volunteers

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owards the end of the 16th Century, Greenock experienced rapid population growth from 1,500 in 1773, to 3,800 in 1792. The merging of Greenock and Crawfordsdyke in 1811 brought the population up to around 19,000. This population growth was largely a consequence of the huge influx of highlanders and Irish immigrants arriving via ships and looking for work. Greenock at this time served as a promising port of call for the destitute. The town, once a small fishing community, had expanded to take up her destiny as a trading seaport, making use of the natural bays, and as a result trade and commerce flourished. However, town officials were worried that Greenock would miss out on the benefits of the Industrial Revolution and set out to advance the town. A fundamental part of this progress was the increased demand for an industrial water supply – and water powered mills in particular – as well as cleaner drinking water to cater to the growing populace. Sanitary conditions in the early 1800s were deteriorating, and outbreaks of typhus, cholera and smallpox were rife. In 1832 the number of cholera cases in Greenock was higher than both Glasgow and Edinburgh, primarily due to a lack of fresh water. Development of a much needed new water supply fell to Robert Thom, a civil engineer and self-made cotton spinner who was busy developing a water supply scheme for Rothesay’s mills. He was contacted in 1821 by Sir Michael Shaw Stewart and asked to survey the hills and hinterland behind the town. The deficiency of water had been long a subject of complaint in Greenock, and the previous water supply, designed by James Watt in 1773,

was failing to meet the demands of the growing population. During long, hot summers, the reservoirs would empty and water supplies had to be carted long distances. Thom was approached again in 1824 after a number of other engineers were employed, all of whom reported that the scheme was impossible. On completing his survey, he noted that the scheme was not only possible, but would supply enough water to drive machinery at least equal to what is impelled by steam in and about Glasgow. Work started on Thom’s water supply scheme in the autumn of 1825, under the direction of The Shaws Water Joint Stock Company.

Greenock Advertiser Friday 1st October 1852 Shaws Water Works – Want of Water …“Is it always raining in Greenock?”… “No, sir, sometimes it snows.” This has long been a standing joke, and the experience of the natives apparently warranted the universally held opinion that if there was rain anywhere, Greenock was sure to have its share… for the season just ended, twenty “oldest inhabitants” could not recollect when so little water fell – in fact, never till this year could Greenock boast of a dry summer… one consequence has been the entire using up of Loch Thom, the immense reservoir of the Shaws Water Company, from which fully twenty mills are supplied with power. The result of course is, that the whole have been stopped for the last few days, and many thousands of workers thrown idle: nor does the weather give any indications of a heavy fall, so that this unfortunate state of matters, we fear, must continue for a short time still.

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Report to Sir Michael Shaw Stewart by Robert Thom

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ir, agreeably to your request I have inspected the grounds and streams in the vicinity of Greenock, in order to ascertain the resources they afford for supplying that Town with water. A plentiful supply for this town and its public works, as they exist at present, is a matter of comparatively easy accomplishment; but as you also expressed a desire to learn whether a supply to a still greater extent might not be obtained, my attention has been directed accordingly. … If we divide this power by thirty-three we shall have that number of public works, each having water power fully equal to that of fifty horses. This result may appear an extraordinary one to persons not conversant with such matters; but a little attention to the subject will show that not only is this much quite practicable, but that it is still far from exhausting the water power within the resources of Greenock. For the present, however, let us confine ourselves to a power of this extent, and endeavour to form a judgment of the probable result. If such a power were applied to the cotton-manufacture, each of these thirty-three works would pay in wages to their work people about ten thousand pounds a year; that is, the sum paid in wages by the whole would amount annually to about three hundred and thirty thousand pounds. The total capital employed would be above a million sterling. The effects which anything even approaching to this would produce upon the town of Greenock would be immense: property would instantly rise in value; the increased demand would not only raise the rents of the present buildings, but new ones would be erected in every quarter. Nor would the effects be confined to the town of Greenock only: all the country round would assume a life and vigour unknown before. The increased demand for produce would enable farmers to improve their lands: cottages and villas would be seen rising in every direction; and, in the end, the proprietors of the lauds would share largely in the general prosperity. I have already remarked, that perhaps no place in the kingdom is better situated for applying water power to public works, on a large scale, than Greenock. Where, for instance, would such a view present itself, as thirty or forty elegant and extensive public works, rising, like a crescent, above Greenock, all in full activity, and all impelled by water? Here you would

have no steam-engines, vomiting forth smoke, and polluting earth and air for miles around; but, on the contrary, the pure “stream of the mountain,” flowing past in ceaseless profusion, carrying along with it freshness, health, and vigour; whilst, in its progress through the town, everything, having a different tendency, would be swept before it into that great reservoir of health, and purifier of the elements — the ocean. In a word, were these works judiciously placed and tastefully constructed, they would present by far the grandest object of art to be seen on the banks of the Clyde. I have heard it remarked that public works will not thrive near a sea-port town. I apprehend those who make such remarks have not much studied the subject. … Were this done, I incline to think, that Greenock would then be in possession of nearly as much power, from water, as is now given by steam to all the public works in and about Glasgow.

Above: Dalrymple St from foot of Charles St, looking east

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The Greenock Cut & the Falls

Above: The Cut. Greenock

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he scheme, officially opened on the 16th of April 1827 at a final cost of £51,000, involved the creation of an open, artificial aqueduct which carried water in a five-mile arc from the ‘Great Reservoir’, or ‘Little Caspian’ (later renamed Loch Thom), to the town through a system of self-acting sluices. “Who could have supposed that a water, apparently not at all having such an elevation, and stealing along, in its lonely course, through a mossy wild, at the back of a rugged range of hills, scarcely known but to the solitary angler, could be brought to glide six or seven miles gently along their edge, and to pour down, from its heathery elevation of 600 feet, so many powerful and foaming cascades?” The Cut flowed to an Eastern Line of falls for industrial use, which were produced by the strategic placement of water-wheels at specific points where factories and mills could be built to feed off the water supply.  “19 falls were built on the Eastern line, which at its highest point was 512 feet above sea level. The Shaws Water company guaranteed 1,200 cubic feet of water per minute for 12 hours a day to any factory that would be built on the line.” During the opening ceremony, “a boat prepared for the purpose, gaily decorated with flags”, was floated along on the first section of cut. At the time, “the spectacle of a vessel skirting the mountain’s brow, and tracking the sinuosities of the alpine chain at so great an elevation, seemed the realization of a dream of the wildest fancy; and the course of the boat was followed by crowds of delighted spectators.”

Greenock Advertiser 17th April 1827 “The 16th of April, 1827, will long remain a memorable day in the annals of Greenock. Rapid as was its advance from the obscurity of a fishing village to the consideration which belongs to the first sea-port in Scotland, we trust it is destined from this day to exhibit a still more rapid progress as a manufacturing town, for which it has acquired facilities it did not before possess — and, we may add, which no place in the United Kingdom now possesses in the same eminent degree. To form an immense artificial lake, in the bosom of the neighbouring alpine regions, and lead its liquid treasure along the mountain summits, at an elevation of more than 500 feet above the level of the sea, till, in the immediate vicinity of the town, it should be made to pour down a resist-less torrent, in successive falls, for the impelling of machinery to a vast extent — this, in a few words, was the magnificent conception of Mr. Thom…”

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overcrowded streets were receptacles for decaying animals and vegetable matter. Human ordure lay alongside doors, under windows, below stairs and in confined closes. Pighouses, and their dung heaps, abounded and in some instances pigs were kept in houses.” This report led to Greenock being named ‘The Unhealthiest Town in Scotland’, and in the same year, succumbed to a great typhus epidemic which filled mass graves in the Greenock Cemetery. With the completion of the Gryffe reservoirs in 1872, the raising of Loch Thom’s embankment to increase the amount of fresh water available to the town, and an improved sewage system, the health of the town slowly began to improve. The town reached its peak population size of 81,123 in 1921, a number which has never been surpassed.

“The spectators, who amounted to several thousands, but who had previously been scattered irregularly over a considerable extent of the aqueduct line, now became more condensed, and moved onwards as if in procession, following the march of the stream. In the appearance of the aqueduct a complete change had now taken place: what, a few minutes before, was a dry and unmeaning channel, exhibited now an impetuous torrent; by turns a cascade sending up clouds of spray, and a swift rolling current seeking its unquiet course towards the Clyde, whose ample waters lay far beneath.”

Whilst the Eastern Line of fall was used, the Western Line was never fully developed as most of the industries were situated in the east of the town. The success of the Eastern Line resulted in the population of the town rapidly increasing from 22,000 in 1820 to 36,000 in 1841. The huge population growth presented the town with significant challenges, which the new water supply had failed to address, primarily that health in Greenock continued to decline with a shortage of drinking water and a lack of an efficient sewage system. In response to this, an Act of Parliament was passed in 1845 and the Kelly and Crawhin reservoirs were built, but these did little to abate the problem. As a report in 1846 noted, “many of the

Below: Map of the Reservoirs and Aqueduct near Greenock, 1827 © Watt Library, Greenock Inverclyde Council

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Industry off the Falls

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efore the scheme’s development, there were no pre-existing mills in the town and no site for any. Whilst the scheme was successful, and businesses including paper-making, distilling, textile, rope making and flour and sugar refining began to flourish along the falls, the higher falls stood unused for many years, despite the low rates which were offered to prospective businesses. The main exception to this was the paper mill which was established right at the top, most likely attracted by the purity of the water. The Overton Paper Mills opened in 1828 and eventually closed around 1929. On 3rd July 1887, a fire caused £20,000 worth of damage and the mills were destroyed and was rebuilt before being opening reopened in 1889. “Overton Paper Mills were at an early hour yesterday morning almost wholly destroyed by fire… Its appearance was first detected about three o’clock by the night watchman… and by fourteen minutes past four, the manual engine, twelve brave men, and six hundred feet of hose were on their way to the top of Drumfrochar Road.”

Above: Overton Paper Mill, Greenock

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leming, Reid & Company’s wool factory was established at No. 12 Fall. Attracted to Greenock by the power available from Loch Thom, the original mill was built in 1840. By 1927, they had acquired Falls 11 – 17, giving them a total of 203 feet. Power for the mill was provided by a huge 70-foot water wheel named the Axle of Hercules, which was considered the “most magnificent structure of the kind in the world”. Weighing 190 tons, the Great Wheel provided 200 horse power, enough to run more than 14,000 spindles and four floors of machinery. The whole mechanism acted “together so smoothly that not the slightest shaking or noise [was] perceptible” and spectators observed the “calm, majestic, but resist-less force with which it moves”.

Above: Great Water Wheel, Axle of Hercules Right: Mill Workers Sitting on the Great Wheel

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Burns of Greenock: From East to West In addition to the Cut, the large number of burns in Greenock was fundamental to the town’s development. Not only did they influence the layout of the town, but they were also a source of water for industry. Greenock has seven main burns: West Burn, Delling Burn, Finnart Burn, Glen Burn, Crawford’s Burn, Strone Burn and Lady Burn. In addition to these, there were numerous other burns of varying sizes in the Greenock area such as Carts Burn.

The Lady Burn

Bursting of Beith’s Dam

A rapid change was taking place in the early 1800s, with new industries developing. Ladyburn Tanworks was built in 1805 on the banks of the burn on account of the excellent supply of fresh water. An essential factor in tanwork, the factory imported skins from Australia and South Africa. They were also involved in exporting wool. The smell of the skins being cleaned and tanned was strong and very unpleasant.

Carlisle Journal, Saturday 28th November 1835 Dreadful Accident and Loss of Life at Greenock “On Saturday night one of the most dreadful occurrences, accompanied with an appalling loss of human life, that has been experienced in the West of Scotland during a long series of years, took place at Greenock – the waters of one of the large dams connected with the ‘Shaws Water’ having suddenly burst their embankment, and rushed down upon the village of Cartsdyke with resist-less fury, carrying destruction to every species of property in its course, and death, to an awful extent, among the dense population of that crowded suburb. … About half past eleven o’clock… the terrific flood poured itself into a gully, or deep ravine, and thence, bearing before it immense masses of rock, trees, etc., roaring and dashing in the most frightful manner, rushed into Cartdyke, by Cartsburn Street. …It is impossible to describe the overwhelming power of the various torrents of water, as they swept along their destructive courses.… Houses were swept off their foundations in all directions, and throughout the whole of the ill-fated village of Cartdyke, scenes of desolation everywhere meet the eye. But the destruction of property, though deeply to be deplored, sinks into insignificance when compared with the awful loss of human life. … The misery produced is incalculable in amount. The appearance of the houses themselves might have afforded sufficient matter for lamentation... But when there was added to this the wailings and lamentation of the poor inhabitants, without food, and houseless, and mourning over deceased relatives, the scene was the most exquisitely wretched that can well be conceived.”

The Westburn The burn reached a small dam behind Nelson Street and up until this point, no industries were using the burn. From here, the water was diverted to Walkerʼs Sugar Refinery, and then flowed into Westburn Street where it became a much used commodity for many businesses needing fresh water, such as a grain mill, dye works, butchers’ wholesalers, and retailers of all the requirements of the rapidly expanding population.

The Carts Burn Shaws Waterworks constructed a dam above Auchmountain Glen to give the burn a controlled flow and so enabled various companies to set up business. Industries such as a flint mill, a flourmill, an iron foundry moulding shop, and various other small businesses were established. There was also a congested area of housing, finishing with Scotts shipbuilding yard. On the 15th March 1815, the Shaws Waterworks dam, now called the Beithʼs Dam, after days of continuous rain burst its banks. The huge volume of water followed the line of the burn, sweeping through and destroying the flint mills, flour mill, and any buildings in its path, flooding and destroying a large area of Cartsdyke. The damage caused by the flooding was eventually repaired and things got back to normal. However, on the 21st November 1835, Beithʼs Dam burst its banks again and poured it waters with such force that it swept away everything before it. For some time before the flood reached the houses, a loud rumble was heard by a number of people, followed by a violent gust of wind. The cause soon became apparent as a huge torrent of water swept into Cartsburn Street, more than seven feet deep and carrying with it trees, large boulders, and parts of the buildings that had been rebuilt since the flood twenty years prior. It was about eleven o’clock on Saturday night and most of the residents were in bed when the flood hit the houses. Thirty-seven people lost their lives by drowning or were crushed by the tumbling buildings.

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Lives lost during the flood of 21st November 1835 Mrs McLatchie, St Andrew St. Mrs McLean and child, Cartsburn St. Mr Paul and child, do. Alexander Campbell and daughter, do. Archilbald McGougan, a child residing with the above. Matthew Alexander, do. Grace Reid, do. Mrs Salmon, Carnock St. Mrs Dunning and an orphan child, Stanners St. Mrs Currie, do. Mrs Ferguson, do. John Douglas, his son and daughter, do. Robert McWalter, do. Lawrence McCuig, his wife and

two children; another child is considered dying. Robert McEwan and John McEwan, do. Matilda Turner, a child two years’ old. Rosina Doherty, four years’ old Michael McDiarmid, his son and daughter. Mrs Haggarty, do. James Stewart and two grant children, Rue End Street. William Blair, son of Peter Blair, died this forenoon. A child found and not claimed. Two others missing. Several have received severe injuries, from which it is doubtful if they will ever recover.


• Chapter 03 •

Early Water Systems, Greenock and Port Glasgow

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Hugh VS McIntyre

reenock — In 1773 the magistrates and trustees of Greenock obtained an Act of Parliament, “For deepening, cleaning, and making more commodious, the harbours of the town of Greenock; for supplying the inhabitants with fresh and wholesome water; and for paving, cleaning, lighting, and watching the streets and other public places within the said town.” In connection with the water supply, titles were granted by the Superiors, the Shaw Stewarts, for ground on which to create two dams and a cistern. The cistern was to be at the Well Park, and the dams near “the foot of the Whinhill”. One dam was made just west of the head of the Whinhill Road which became Lynedoch Street. The east side of this dam ran parallel to what one account referred to as the Fairy Bridge. This “bridge” is mentioned in some accounts, but no explanation is ever given as to what it was, or the Fairy connection. In his autobiography, John Galt wrote about encountering on his wanderings, “something at a lower reservoir like a bridge across a ravine.” Certainly an east/west ravine existed there, and the dam must have partly utilised the ravine. The other dam was made about 250 yards south, across what became Drumfrochar Road. The dams were served by the Ingleston Spring and the Overton Burn. The water scheme involved setting up pipelines made of hollowed out elm logs, taking water from the dams to the Well Park, specifically to the Dove Cots at the south east side,and thence diagonally to a storage tank or cistern at the north west corner of the Well Park. From here it was distributed via lead pipes to public supply points. These supply points, taking the name from an older system, were known as “wells”, and water could be drawn into buckets and the like for domestic and other use. Water was available at set times of day – at other times the cocks at the wells would be locked shut. There were 10 public wells recorded in Archibald Brown’s The Early Annals of Greenock, 1905, which were situated as follows: East corner of the dyke enclosing the New (Mid) Church; the lane leading up to the Mansion House; Row-End; East Quay Head; Cross Shore, Hector Henry’s Close, Bell Entry, Corner of James Ewing’s house at west side of street leading to Long Vennel, John Love’s house in Long Vennel, and near the corner of Manse Lane.

Though the Well Park cistern is covered in most of the Greenock histories, no description enables one to get a picture of it beyond that its overall dimensions were 72 feet long, west to east, and 54 feet broad, north to south, and that it was situated at the north west corner of the park.

Above: Sketch Showing the Location of the Well Park Cistern The only description that gives more than the position and dimensions is confusingly worded. From Archibald Brown, quoting George Williamson we have: “The Magistrates and Council were not to erect any cistern on the ground, the upper part of whose roof should not be higher than the level of the present north walk of the garden or whose front should not be in a line with the upper Terrace wall. The cistern was to be vaulted and the roof covered with earth to the depth of 18 inches at least, and Sir John Shaw and his

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Above: Well Park

“These supply points, taking the name from an older system, were known as “wells”, and water could be drawn into buckets and the like for domestic and other use. Water was available at set times of day – at other times the cocks at the wells would be locked shut.”

heirs were to be entitled to use the top of the above as part of the garden, etc. The exit of the water from the cistern was by a small well or cave in the face of the brae west of the filter.” Was the cistern excavated, with a vaulted roof at ground level, or was it built up ? We are left to wonder. The whole work of the dams and cistern was planned and supervised by James Watt. On August 13th 1773, Watt wrote from Glasgow to Baillie

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Donald in Greenock, giving details of the supply of elm wood pipes for the water system. The pipes were to come from Speymouth in the north east of Scotland. Watt’s contact with the suppliers was a Mr Cumming, who could not guarantee to deliver them to the Clyde, nor could he guarantee all of the elm logs would be delivered ready bored. However, Watt added a note to the end of the letter that the order was for 1,000 yards of 4 inch and 2,000


yards of 3 inch, that is 4 and 3 inch bore, from which one might conclude that they were indeed to be supplied ready bored. Certainly there is no mention in the record of elm logs being bored out in Greenock. Watt gave the length of the water-course as follows: “from the burn of Overton to the reservoirs, and from the Fairy Bridge to the square, 734 yards; the third, the water-course from Ingleston Spring to the Fairy Bridge, 850 yards”. We ask, why 3 inch and 4 inch, and how were they used? We get no answer. The pipes ran from 12 to 14 feet long, with a few at 16 feet. The 3-inch pipes were 10-inch diameter at the big end, and 4-inch pipes 12-inch diameter. Watt commented that The New River Company required these 3 and 4-inch pipes to be 9-inch and 11-inch diameter at the big end. Mr Cumming, he wrote, generally makes them an inch more rather than have reflections. And what are reflections? We are left to guess. Regarding The New River Company, mentioned above — in the early 1600s, King James VI of Scotland ( James I of Britain) instigated a scheme to improve the dire London water supply. Hugh Myddleton, banker and friend of Sir Walter Raleigh started on a solution in 1609. A fresh water canal, 40 miles long and 10 feet wide was built, taking its water from a series of springs in Hertfordshire, to a reservoir in Islington, and thence to individual houses via hollowed elm logs and lead pipes. The canal was called The New River, hence the company name. This hundreds of years old technology was employed in the Greenock water system. The bores

were drilled out using augers of a suitable diameter — an auger is basically a twist drill for drilling wood. The (tapered) log would be set up with the centre horizontal and strapped down or otherwise fixed. The auger at the end of a tee bar would be rotated, and the bar lengthened by inserting intermediate bars as the bore proceeded. Once boring was complete, the small end of the log would be tapered, and the big end recessed on a taper to take the small end of the adjoining pipe. The dams were completed by March, 1774. The cistern’s completion is not recorded, but it would have been around that of the dams. In late 1774 or early 1775 Watt came north, and with the assistance of his father, and a lad to carry the stakes, surveyed the route and the levels for the pipes. At that, Watt’s role in the project was over. For plans and estimates he was paid £26.15s. Whether the pipes were laid in trenches or carried on trestles is not known. Nor do we know how they were connected to the dams and to the cistern, or how the flow was regulated, or who did the work. Leakage from wooden pipes was often a problem. The New River Company minimised leakage by only admitting water to the pipes to cover the periods when the street wells were open, and we daresay that was how things were done in Greenock. The cistern was removed in 1852 and the “Fairy Bridge” dam did not survive the railway that came through it by 1869 to the terminus at Princes Pier. The south dam at Berry yards existed until 1990, when plans were made to get rid of it.

Above: An illustration, from a mediaeval source, shows a log being bored out, with spare augers lying about.

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P

ort Glasgow — In 1773 Port Glasgow (at that time run by Glasgow) obtained an Act, “For extending the Duty of Two Pence Scots, or One Sixth Part of a Penny Sterling, payable on every pint of Ale and Beer vended or sold in the Village of Port Glasgow, and the privileges thereof, over the Town of Newark; for supplying the inhabitants of Port Glasgow and Newark with Fresh Water; for paving, cleaning, lighting, and watching the streets of the Two Towns; for repairing and keeping in Repair the Breast and East and West Quays of the harbour of Port Glasgow; and other purposes therein mentioned.” The water system created in Port Glasgow after the 1773 Act was described by William Semple in his 1782 edition of The History of the Shire of Renfrew as wooden pipes taking water from a spring. The source location and method of distribution are now lost. Semple placed the source spring as “about half a mile to the southward”. Later, around 1778, a lead-lined rubble work cistern, 17 to 18 feet diameter and 10 feet 2 inches deep with a canopy above, was built on the hill not far behind the Parish Church. This held between 74 and 75 tuns (sic), about 16,000 gallons of water. The wooden pipes were replaced by lead. When the Railway Station was built in the 1840s, the cistern was inside its boundary. Maps of the town up to and including 1911 show the cistern. The sketch shows it in 1856. At that time there were other tanks/cisterns in the

town: cistern in yard between Town’s Buildings and Drydock; tank behind Hood’s Well in Station; tank east of Hood’s Well. William F. Macarthur in his History of Port Glasgow, says the Glenhuntly Burn that ran (and still does) just west of the cistern was the water source. There may have been a small dam. The townspeople, he wrote, called the cistern “The Reservoir”, and looked on it with pride. As in Greenock, the water was led to public wells. These were eight in number. Semple wrote that they were, “built with good cut stone, having two cocks each” and, “by taking off the plugs they can be supplied with water in case of accidents by fire, to serve the water or fire engines”. No details exist of where they were situated, however the 1856 O.S. map of the town shows wells in the following seven areas: yard west of Clunebrae Foot; in Salmon’s Close; a house behind Springhill; in boatbuilding yard just west of St John’s Church; at William St east side, near junction with Brown Street; at Jean Street east side; at Gasworks (dry well).

Right: Sketch of the Port Glasgow Cistern in 1856 Below: Port Glasgow Harbour, 1841

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• Chapter 04 •

James Watt College in William Street, Greenock Joseph McGeer

W

illiam Street is one of the oldest streets in Greenock and one whose history has been inextricably linked to the river and its industries. Located in the centre of town, the street runs from Cathcart Square to the Mid Quay. Created in 1751, it is named after William Alexander, who owned the land at the time. In the mid-1700s, Greenock was still a relatively small town and did not have formal street names. However, as the population increased it was decided at the Town Council meeting of August 1775, that the streets would be given names so that people may distinguish them. There, ‘the square to the Mid Quay’ became known as ‘William Street’. The docks that once existed at the foot of William Street were completed for a total of £5,555 in 1707 and were one of the oldest on the Clyde. James Watt (1736 – 1819) is arguably the most famous person born in Inverclyde. He was an engineer and inventor, his most important innovation was improvements to the steam engine, most notably the separate condenser. These enabled the steam engine (invented by John Newcomen) to become much more efficient, and became a critical element in the industrial revolution. His improvements resulted in the transformation of not just Britain, but the whole of the world. James Watt was born on 19th January 1736 in a house at the corner of William Street and Dalrymple Street, on the site of the current statue of Watt. The original house was demolished in 1796 and over the years, a number of developments took place on the site, including a pub named after Watt. In 1878, the site was cleared and a proposal was made to use it for the erection of a memorial to Watt. It wasn’t until 1908 that a fitting monument was erected on his birthplace, with the assistance of a contribution from the Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. James Watt has several memorial to him in the town, such as street names and the Watt Memorial Library, which was begun in 1816 with Watt’s donation of scientific books, and developed as part of the Watt Institution by his son. The institution ultimately became the James Watt College. In 1902, Andrew Carnegie offered to donate £10,000 towards a suitable monument. Carnegie, one of the richest men who ever lived, had already visited Greenock in 1902 when he made a donation to help renovate a building at Wallace Place, which became a public library. The Glasgow architects, H & D Barclay, designed and were responsible for the building of this memorial college to James Watt. The college was to replace the old Greenock Technical School

Above: Roy’s Military Survey of Lowland Scotland, 1752 – 1755 © The British Library.

Above: Dalrymple Street From William Street Looking West

Above: The Same Site Around 1870

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and offered evening classes in technical education. On 1st June 1908, Carnegie opened the Watt Memorial Engineering and Navigation School as it was then called. The school consisted of only two rooms, one above the other, and was built in what was known as the Scottish domestic style of architecture. It is built of dressed stone with a base of rough–faced granite. A statue of Watt occupies a commanding position at the east corner of the college. Cast in bronze, the statue, which is eight feet six inches in height, is the work of Mr Henry C. Fehr from London, and is practically a replica of one erected in Leeds. The buildings on the right hand side of the picture were demolished between 1912 and 1938. The college consists of the tall building in the centre of this picture and the two-storey building to the right. The four-storey building to the left was demolished to build the extension. The subjects taught in the original building were inherently connected to the industries that dominated the coast at the time. These were Marine Engineering and Navigation, and around 1913, Radiotelegraphy was introduced as a subject. Since the two rooms were already fully occupied, the tradition was established of students sitting on the staircase while the teacher worked on a blackboard placed on a landing. Initially the college was administered by the Greenock Burgh School Board, but in 1919 with the termination of the School Boards under the Education (Scotland) Act of 1918, it was transferred to the Renfrewshire Education Authority. The demand for college courses rose considerably after 1914, and to meet this need, use had to be made of a number of local facilities, e.g. old junior secondary schools, unused church halls, and even an old, private commercial college (The George College). Overcrowding and lack of space was however very much the issue at this time. An entry in the log book of 1930 stated that,“… It has become urgent that all departments should be incorporated in one building. Still excellent work is done in spite of very adverse conditions.” Services continued to expand and in 1931, a Junior Instruction Centre opened in an annex at Shaw Street, and at the Sailors Rest at the Dock Breast with 272 boys and 95 girls. Boys were carefully arranged according to educational attainment and religious belief, and graded into 12 sections. The girls were divided into 5 sections and the centre was open from 8am to 5pm. Subjects on the syllabus retained their connection to the river and shipbuilding and included: cultural subject, physical instruction, manual instruction, technical drawing, domestic subjects, dressmaking and needlework.

Above: Andrew Carnegie As the years progressed, it was obvious that the demand placed on the college to cater for local technical and commercial education outweighed its capacity and in 1936, an extension to the building was opened after the demolition of an adjoining tenement property on William Street. This extension, opened by Sir Godfrey P. Collins, K.C.B., M.P., the then Secretary of State for Scotland, cost £15,000 and consisted of an engineering laboratory, electrical engineering laboratory, wireless installation rooms and lecture rooms. The name of the institution was changed to The James Watt Memorial College. However, confusion about the name of the college existed because as late as 1944, the Joint Committee of the Organisation of Science Classes still referred to the institution as The Greenock Technical School. The style of the extension (running up William Street) was clearly intended to by sympathetic to the original design, being two storeys and using a similar, though not identical, stone in its construction. The college continued to expand both during and after the Second World War. The main impetus to the growth of the school was the concept of day release for apprentices. In 1944, the Royal Navy Dockyards decided to give their apprentices one half-day, soon a full day, release from work, to help in their studies at the local colleges. This practice

“A statue of Watt occupies a commanding position at the east corner of the college. Cast in bronze, the statue, which is eight feet six inches in height, is the work of Mr. Henry C. Fehr from London, and is practically a replica of one erected in Leeds.”

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was followed by many local employers and by 1956, 135 day-release students per week were in attendance. By 1965/66, there were 800 day-release students, plus 100 full-time pre-vocational students. Courses included welding, steel fabrication, fitting, machinery, carpentry and joinery, electrical installation, automobile engineering, and retail distribution. In addition, students could study for Ordinary and Higher National courses, as well as O Grade courses. Up until the 1960s, the college was predominately a male institution, catering as it did for the heavy industries. The economic conditions were changing however, and the cyclical nature of employment in these areas, as well as their gradual decline,

contributed to the expansion of training for young girls. The Department of Business Studies was set up in Session 1964/65 in the Holmscroft Annexes running pre-vocational secretarial classes and link classes for local schools. The department used several locations and expanded rapidly. A much larger college building was required to meet these demands, and those for new areas such as catering and hairdressing. In 1972, a new building opened in Finnart Street and the building in William Street vacated. The college continued to expand and like all colleges in Scotland, became independent in 1992, before merging with Clydebank and Reid Kerr colleges in 2013 to form West College Scotland and the name of James Watt was dropped after 100 years.

Above: William Street Looking Towards Mid Parish Church

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Above: Birthplace of James Watt, Corner of William Street and Dalrymple Street

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• Chapter 05 •

The Vennel

Above: Map Showing Vennel Area

D

espite the major improvements to the water supply for industry in the town, the living conditions for the working classes in Greenock were still remarkably poor in the late 1800s. Nowhere was this more abundantly clear than in the Vennel and its surrounding area, where the streets and dwelling-houses were drunk with disease and degradation. In August 1931, an enquiry was held into housing conditions in the central area of Greenock. This area had grown haphazardly over many years, resulting in severe congestion, overcrowding and poor living conditions, with the oldest houses dating around 175 years old. The Greenock Corporation commissioned photographs to be taken of the area and came to the overwhelming conclusion that it was unfit for human habitation. The circumstances which led to the 1931 enquiry began in the late 1800s, when reports and letters were written by numerous sources regarding the terrible conditions of the Vennel area. They paint an unsavoury picture of

the lives of those unfortunate enough to live in such unsanitary and squalid conditions. As a result of these reports, a Compulsory Closing Order was placed on the Vennel and the area was cleared. Below: 7 Market Street

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Left: Area Between Vennel & Waverly Lane Below: Vennel Looking Northwards From Smith's Lane Report by medical officer of health on the Housing of the Working Classes of Greenock, 1910 “The labouring classes are mostly housed in the oldest part of the town near the centre, and in the streets close to the Clyde. The houses in this district are very old, many of them have seen better days, and have been sub-divided to suit a poorer class of tenant. The streets are narrow, and in not a few instances, the open space at the rear of the building is deficient, especially where there are back-lands. The most objectionable feature of the housing of the working classes is the existence of backlands. These occupy the space at the rear of the buildings which should be vacant, and so interfere with the free access of fresh air and sunlight. As regards the way in which the poorer classes keep their houses much is still to be desired, as in addition to being very poor, many are thriftless and untidy.” “Reports and letters were written by numerous sources regarding the terrible conditions of the Vennel area. They paint an unsavoury picture of the lives of those unfortunate enough to live in such unsanitary and squalid conditions.”

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Left: 8 Manse Lane Right: Buccleuch Street, Looking South From Vennel Below: 16,18 Market Street Greenock Telegraph, 1875 Sanitary Conditions of Greenock, an impassioned editorial plea for thoroughgoing action on the problems of overcrowding and seriously deficient housing in Greenock. “Perhaps there is no town in Scotland – certainly no town of the same size – where there are so many of these wretched hovels as in Greenock. Several causes have led to this – perhaps the two most prominent being the confined situation of the town between the river and the hills, and the very rapid rise in the population.” Sanitary Reform Association, 1863 “The prominent disgusting fact of the report is that, at the doors of one-fourth of the people, and in the very streets of this well-watered town, human excrement is to be found lying shamelessly in the face of day... The great drains constructed within the last few years are very magnificent works, but they have evidently failed to accomplish the end for which they were made, which was, of course, to remove the filth of the town.”

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Greenock Telegraph, 1875

Greenock Telegraph, 1875

Breakfast offered for the poor in the Vennel Hall, a report by an “occasional visitor” “…The Sabbath morning breakfast-room for the poor – by which class we find it already well-filled and fast filling up. It was found shortly after 8, when breakfast was served, that about 512 men, women and children were present. What a sight they were! How many shoes were in that company ? The great majority appeared to be barefooted, and the children especially, who filled the front and one of the side-rows, were packed together closely, thus keeping each other warm, to make up in some degree for the scantiness of their apparel.”

Saturday Night in the Vennel: Sights and Sounds of the Most Notorious Lane in Greenock “Greenock has in its Vennel one of her narrowest, busiest and oldest thoroughfares. On Saturday evenings, this lane – for it is nothing else than a lane – is for the space of 4 or 5 hours densely crowded with people. Especially on Saturday pay-nights is this the case. Indeed, most of the narrow streets in our large towns are in the same condition on Saturday pay-nights. But, if brutality and drunken disorder are to be seen in a high degree of perfection, it is in the Vennel of Greenock. On the evening of Saturday last, the condition of the streets, we suppose, was no worse than usual. Yet the sight they presented was one of a very painful kind. Long before darkness came on, dissipation and

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excess began to be very apparent. Between the hours of 8 and 11 it was scarcely possible for the ordinary passenger to walk through the Vennel without having his passage interrupted by parties of drunken, swaggering men or boys. The crowd who ‘loafed’ about, and who for hours occupied the streets, were composed principally of scantily clothed workmen of the lower-class, young apprentice lads, dirty women with squalid infants in arms, and that class of females, which charity should not attempt to describe. The bars of the various public houses were well-patronised, and it was a noticeable fact that wrangling and disputes amongst the revellers generally arose after they came out into streets. The numerous ‘little mills’ which took place were accompanied by the usual complement of oaths, and more than one couple of female pugilists were seen ‘settling their differences’ by means of hair-tearing and scratching. Nor was this picture without its pathetic side, for it was not an uncommon thing to see working-men, whose homes might be happy, led along in a muddled state by wretched, ill-used looking women, with ragged children at their feet. Were an inhabitant of another planet allowed to witness the debauchery, dirt, and degradation of the Vennel on such a night, and by some other means dropped into West Blackhall Street on a Sunday morning, when the street was lined with well-dressed, sober, church-going people, he would return to his native latitudes firmly convinced that the earth was occupied by two distinct races of beings.”

“The prominent disgusting fact of the report is that, at the doors of one-fourth of the people, and in the very streets of this well-watered town, human excrement is to be found lying shamelessly in the face of day...”


“The filth of all kinds ought to be brought out once-a-day, and taken away by public cart. But all are not punctual. In actual fact you generally find quantities of the vilest refuse lying in the courts at noon-day… Besides these courts, accessible to the scavengers, there are others, generally smaller, completely surrounded by houses. In most of these the sun’s rays never reach the ground.”

Left: 19, 21, 23 Market Street, Backview Below: 1 Cowgate Street Greenock Advertiser, 1857 ‘The dwellings of the working classes in Greenock’, a letter by Robert Blair “…In a densely peopled close… what are people to do? The filth of all kinds ought to be brought out once-a-day, and taken away by public cart. But all are not punctual. In actual fact you generally find quantities of the vilest refuse lying in the courts at noon-day… Besides these courts, accessible to the scavengers, there are others, generally smaller, completely surrounded by houses. In most of these the sun’s rays never reach the ground. The surface is littered with old bottles, stones, and hoops, rotten wood and baskets and on all this thrown the liquid abomination of one or more crowded tenements. Let anyone seriously consider the effect of this state of things on the well-being ‒ physical, moral and religious ‒ of the community. People grant at once that bodily health must suffer from close, dark ill-ventilated apartments, where the air is vitiated by the abundance of human beings, and where the foul miasmata of decaying animal and vegetable matter abound… But let them consider how the springs of enjoyment must be stopped in such circumstances, and life be made a joyless burdensome thing… And where the senses and spirits are dulled, and where the humours of the body become clogged from want of pure air, who can blame a weary man for resorting to the brilliancy and comfort of the tavern.”

Stirling Observer, Thursday 15th August, 1867 “On Tuesday morning a most unusual sight was witnessed in the Vennel, Greenock, by a large number of residents and passers-by. Several of the guidwives of the Upper Vennel brought forth their little ones in their arms, and, to the astonishment and amusement of the onlookers, they surrounded a donkey which had innocently been left standing yoked to a cart on the street. They thereafter commenced a series of performances with their infants and the donkey, that was certainly very astonishing to one uninitiated in the mysteries of donkeyism. On making 21

inquiry, not of the medical gentleman in the neighbourhood, but of one who was seriously contemplating the performance, we learned that the mothers were adopting precautionary measures to prevent their children taking the hooping cough. For the benefit of mothers in general we may add that the cure for this infantile disease consists in the mother handing the child underneath the donkey to another woman, who lifts it up and hands it over the back of the donkey again to the mother. This, when repeated three times, being considered as effective a cure for hooping cough as vaccination is for small pox.”


Above: Vennel Looking Southwards From Watson's Lane

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Above: 9 Market Street

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Above: 71 Vennel & 1 Inverkip Street

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• Chapter 06 •

The Tale of the Seven Stowaways

Above: The Arran

“I was living near the docks in Greenock, and I was constantly goin’ about the ships… but I never had sailed in a ship or in a boat farther than the Tail o’ the bank… I was quite comfortable at home, and I never should have left it; and I don’t think I’ll ever try the sea again.”

O

n the 7th of April 1868, the wooden ship Arran set sail from Greenock to Quebec with a cargo of coal and oakum under the direction of Captain Robert Watt and First Mate James Kerr. On board were seven stowaways between the ages of 11-22.  The poorly clad boys were starved, mistreated and subjected to brutal floggings before being abandoned on the perilous ice floes approximately 20 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, the captain telling them that they would be “as well to die on the ice as on the vessel.”  Meanwhile, word had reached Greenock of the mistreatment of the local lads from a disapproving crew letter, and upon the Arran’s return to the closely knit town, the captain and first mate were met at the harbour by an angry mob

set on revenge. The captain and first mate were tried shortly afterwards at the Edinburgh High Court, where the tale of the seven stowaways was told by the boys who survived it. 6th April 1868 Down in Greenock’s bustling harbours, 11-year-old Hugh McEwan stood trying convince fellow 11-year-old John Paul to stow away on the ship Arran. McEwan, whose widowed mother had recently moved to Glasgow, was seeking any ship that was bound for America the next day. He was unaware that the Arran was actually set to transport coal and oakum to Quebec in Canada, but he knew that the crew were loading up and readying her to leave by the morrow. John Paul, from Dalrymple Street, had never been any farther

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than the Tail o’ the Bank. He told McEwan that he would decide by the following day if he would join him in leaving. However, to his own mind, he was certain that he would stay. 7th April 1868 The next morning, as planned, John Paul met the ever errant McEwan who was still steadfast about leaving. McEwan insisted that “it was a fair wind” and that if they were to leave on the Arran they “would be clear of the land and the tug by night”. John Paul didn’t know what that meant and he was fairly certain that McEwan didn’t either; he was only 11 after all and had probably just overheard one of the crew saying something similar on the wharf. Nevertheless, John Paul seemed somewhat convinced by his friend’s confidence, and reassured by McEwan’s notion that they would


be back from America in a month, just in time for the warm summer. So John Paul decided that he would indeed make for the Arran and leave Greenock behind. The thought wasn’t exactly anything out of the ordinary, he had often been on ships with other boys in the harbours and he knew of the places they came and went. Sometimes he cleaned steamers and boilers with his dad and he would muck about in rowing boats whenever he could. To his mind, to sail in a ship beyond the Tail o’ the Bank and quickly across the Atlantic with a good ‘fair wind’ at their sails was not too terrifying a concept. Scantily clad, ill-prepared and entirely unaware of the hardships of crossing the North Atlantic, the boys crept aboard while the crew were hard at work preparing the ship. They climbed through the forecastle, scuttled through dark corners and hid themselves among the barrels and timber-heads. There, crouched in the creaking dark, they met another boy hiding by the oakum – 12-year old Hugh McGinnes. From their hiding place the boys watched their town and known world disappear. It was with the slow fade of the familiar shape of the Cloch lighthouse that the unknown began. “We could see the taps o’ the hooses fae our hidin’ place, and both McEwan and me watched the hooses o’ Greenock disappear, and the ships’ masts gang oot o’sight. I began to wish I was at home, but I couldna get back. In a while we could see some o’ the hooses o’ Gourock, and we saw the white light-hoose at the Cloch. After that I didna ken or see any place I had mind o’.” The sea soon became rough and the rain harsh as the boys listened to a stranger’s voice, belonging to the captain, booming around the deck. McEwan, Paul, and McGinnes came out from their cover and were quickly discovered by the crew who immediately brought them to the captain. It was only then that the boys discovered that they were not heading for America at all, but Quebec in Canada instead. The cross examination of the boys was brought to a halt with a commotion from further down the ship. An Irish accent spoke from amongst the coals and up jumped Barney Reilly [22], an Irish stowaway. Soon after David Brand [16],

Above: West Harbour, Greenock

Above: Crew Agreement of the Arran

Above: View of the Clyde From Princes Pier

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Above: Francis William Topham, Custom House, Greenock (1841) James Bryson [16] and Peter Currie [12] came out of their hiding places. None of the seven stowaways that crept aboard at Greenock had any food with them. Their worldly possessions the ragged hand-me downs that hung off them loosely. Some had shoes, others were bare footed. The boys were soon put to work and it was not long before fatigue and hunger set in. Brisk winds beat their tired bodies and brought hopeless thoughts of home; and for John Paul the idea of sleeping rough on the Custom House stairs, something he had experienced on several occasions, was preferable to his current circumstance, such were the unforgiving conditions on board the Arran. Little did the boys know of the mistreatment and abuse that would follow in the coming days and weeks. “I would rather hae been sleepin’a’night upon the Custom-house stairs at Greenock, though I should hae been ta’en up by the polis before the mornin’.” During the first week, the

stowaways were given rations the same as the crew members, but as the weeks went by, the rations had reduced to the point where all they received was half a biscuit each day. When one of the boys asked for more food, he was told to eat the snow and ice that covered the deck, and when any of them asked for water, they were set to work; washing decks, and performing other menial tasks. As they worked their way across the North Atlantic, provided with next to nothing, the stowaways slept in the cramped conditions of the sail-locker while the weather became increasingly stormy and the Arctic chill crept in. “The sea and the rain soaked us to the skin; but we had no clothes to change, and we were not allowed near the fire to dry them, but just had to walk about till they were dry, or went to our bed and slept in them.” The unforgiving nature of their voyage was only heightened by the much more calculated human evil that they would have to endure throughout

27

the Arran’s journey. This ranged from neglect of their basic human needs, to the callously cruel abuse handed out to them by some members of the crew, who savagely beat and lashed the boys on multiple occasions. “When I sat greetin’, and starvin’, and tremblin’ wi’ the cauld win’, they would only kick me; an’ they lashed us wi’ ropes, an’ they took aff the claes o’ some o’ them to lash them wi’ ropes. They tied some o’ us hand an’ feet, an’ then struck us; an’ I often thought they would kill some o’ us outright, an’ throw us over the side.” The highest ranking members of the ship were apparently the worst offenders; Captain Robert Watt and First Mate James Kerr. Perhaps they saw it as their duty to punish any stowaway that slipped through the cracks and used up the crew’s supplies, especially when young James Bryson was caught stealing food repeatedly. However, it would later be revealed that the Arran was adequately stocked with rations that could last for several months.


It seemed as though 16-year-old Bryson was the main focus of the abuse. He was repeatedly flogged for minor offences, one time for dirtying his trousers after taking unwell. “The line would be about half inch thick...I ran forward when the mate was flogging me, and the master followed me and made me strip naked. I was then ordered to lie down on the deck… While lying down one of the men was ordered to go up on the rail and draw water… He drew a bucketful of water and threw it about me. The weather was very cold at the time; it was freezing. The captain scrubbed me while the water was being thrown on me. He scrubbed with a hard broom. I was lying on my face and back. The captain scrubbed my back, belly, chest, and legs. After the master was done, the mate then took the broom, without orders from the captain, and scrubbed me harder than the captain… After the mate was done he gave the broom to brand, one of the boys, and told him to scrub me. Brand took the broom and scrubbed me. While being scrubbed water was thrown over me…” The flogging stopped when Bryson’s back was red-raw and bleeding freely. He was then made to stand outside, shivering and naked, in the cold Arctic wind for over half an hour. The stowaways found a rare ounce of kindness in the cook and steward who snuck food to the boys when they could. This is probably what kept the boys from starving to death on the ship, a thousand miles from home in the middle of the North Atlantic. To the captain, however, they were not helpless children but mere ragged burdens. Even 11 years old was old enough for the cruel and unsympathetic treatment commonly bestowed upon stowaways. Life meant very little for the poor, the starving and the destitute in 1868, and meant even less for those who secreted themselves aboard ships without consent of the ship’s owner, as no record had to be kept of their existence on board.

15th May 1868

collar and hauled him to the side of the ship. He did the same to Currie and Paul and McEwan and McGinnes cried, as they were told that “they might as well die on the ice as in the vessel”. Bystanding crewmembers on board the Arran thought the journey across the cracked ice fields was a near impossible one, although they made no effort to intervene or to stop the actions of the captain and first mate.

After several weeks of cruelty and neglect, the Arran was close to completing its crossing, but the stowaways would not complete their journey on board. The captain and first mate sent the boys out onto the perilous ice floes some 15-20 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, where they were abandoned. “The land was not visible from the ship. You could only see the black haze of the land.” There are contradicting reports of the events surrounding the boys’ reasons for leaving the ship. On one side, reports “The land was not visible from claimed that the captain told them to the ship. You could only see the walk to the ship Myrtle, which was black haze of the land.” reportedly anchored about eight miles away, for he was adamant that they would get no food if they remained on board the Arran. When Brand refused to go, the captain caught him by the

Above: Ice Sheets of the North Atlantic

Above: Treacherous Ice

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“I have been three voyages to the Arctic Regions and I considered it a dangerous journey to those not acquainted with ice. The boys were not sufficiently clothed for such a journey… It appeared very unlikely that those who were barefooted would get there alive.” “The boys were thinly clad, and were not able to stand the severe cold. The men could hardly stand it, let alone them. Two of the little ones had their bare feet.” But for the boys, a journey across many miles of cracked ice seemed a more promising option than remaining on the ship, which is perhaps the most damning testament to the captain’s and his first mate’s cruelty. “When I left the ship, I did not think the journey was a dangerous one. I left the ship because I thought I might as well be on the ice as in the vessel. I did not think I might die on the ice, but I thought I might die if I remained on board the vessel.” At a later date the captain and first mate would state, that on the morning of the 15th May, the stowaways left the ship without leave to walk to the shore. They argued that the ice was solid all the way to the land, which was demonstrably false, before insisting that they had no doubt that the boys would reach the shore unharmed. However, this contradicts with the previously stated intention of sending the boys to the Myrtle for a better chance of food. Regardless of how or why they left, the boys found themselves heading towards the Myrtle. They struggled over the broken ice fields and eventually lost their bearings. It was here that they reportedly spotted the distant haze of Newfoundland, and decided to head for the shore instead of the other ship. According to one of the boys, they were still well within sight of the Arran when they changed their course. Therefore, it seems that, at the very least, those on board did indeed let the boys go. Moreover, it was also reported that the captain was watching their progress through a telescope, the boys slow and weary speckles vanishing into the vast white cracked plains of frozen ocean. The cracks in the ice widened and the boys were repeatedly forced to jump for their lives between the tufts of ice. Several times they fell into the icy

water and several times they clawed and they noticed that their chances for scrambled their way out. Repeatedly survival were fleeting. They did not wish falling and wading through the North to think about making their way across Atlantic took its toll on two of the the hazardous sheets of ice when the younger boys; Hugh McGinnes and sun had gone. The sun had shown them Hugh McEwan. At one point or another, some mercy that morning and stopped each stowaway was submerged in the them from freezing, but by the early freezing waters. The older Brand found afternoon it was melting the thin ice himself constantly looking back and ‒ making the boys’ journey that much doing what he could to help the more perilous. They had already other boys make the jumps between witnessed McEwan vanish beneath the the platforms of ice. On the smooth ice and as far as they were concerned, edged ice they struggled, having to dig another step was impossible for the their fingernails in to gain purchase to 12-year-old McGinnes. All that could be bring themselves up. done was to hope that they would make “I was thinkin’ o’ home, an’ it, find help and somehow manage to doubtin’ if I ever would reach it, an’the come back for him. So the boys walked houses o’the streets were darknenin’ on with heavy hearts and weary minds afore me as I tried to see the land and Hugh McGinnes died there alone on through my tears.” the ice, his cries following them for miles. Before long, McEwan fell into the “We could not carry him, and he water for the final time, trapped by the could not walk. The last I saw of him he closing ice above him. He and John Paul was sitting on the ice and crying.” had been fatefully coupled once more, “I’ll never forget the awfu’ look o’his blinded and beaten by the arctic wind. face till the day o’ my death.” They were slowly making progress to “We never seen him mair. We was the land, not too far from the rest of the real sorry that we didna cut a button boys, when McEwan suddenly fell in. aff his jacket or his vest tae bring Struggling to stay afloat, he grabbed hold hame tae his poor mother at Greenock of John Paul, dragging the two of them ‒ jist somethin’ that wud hae been down under the ice. John Paul managed a keepsake o’ him. If she had only to kick McEwan off, and then he turned seen him as we saw him lyin’ there so and clawed once more at the seeping helpless, wi’ naebody near him, wi’ no floe to pull himself to safety. When he a soul tae speak tae him, nor watch him eventually made it out of the water, till he died.” he turned back around to the help  John Paul admitted later in McEwan, but all he saw was “the hair his testimony that he was afraid to o’his heid sheddin’ below the water, look behind or to watch McGinnes, and I didna see any more o’ him, but noticed that Brand looked back as he sank away below the ice.” two or three times, tears freezing on The remaining stowaways his face. continued on, but shortly afterwards, “Brand is a real gude hearted Hugh McGinnes, his limbs swollen chap. He’s bound to get a gude and his feet lacerated, finally collapsed place somewhere” and sat down on the ice. He hopelessly declared that he could go no further. The other boys tried to rally him for they could not carry him, though Brand had considered it. John Paul later recalled “I was thinkin’ o’ home, an’ looking at the beaten McGinnes’ face; doubtin’ if I ever would reach it, his eyes and lips were swollen, skin blotched, but he was uncertain that an’the houses o’the streets were McGinnes could see them. Brand asked darknenin’ afore me as I tried to him what was a matter, but he merely see the land through my tears.” mumbled something in his throat: “He neither spoke, nor moved, nor lookit at us”. The realization came that it was futile, he could not be rallied. The shore was close for the other boys and perhaps

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The remaining stowaways eventually reached the edge of the ice where a mile-long channel of unfrozen water lay between them and the coast of Newfoundland. With no way of reaching the other side, the boys bawled out when they noticed the shapes of houses on the land. Certain that they would die if they attempted to swim, Brand set out on a separate piece of ice and attempted to paddle to the shore with pieces of wood. Fortunately, a woman who was walking along the shoreline spotted the boys, perhaps she heard their distant yells, and soon after a boat was sent out to their rescue. The rescuers sped out to them, hammering and smashing the ice in order to carve a path to the stowaways. Blinded by the snow and shivering from the cold, the exhausted survivors were pulled aboard by the folk from the village who worked tirelessly to reach them. As the sun set on their long and treacherous journey, the boys were taken to safety and warmth in the Bay of St. George on the coast of Newfoundland. After a time spent living with their rescuers and recovering from their injuries and ordeal, the boys were put up in the Albert Hotel; “We got everything we could want in the hotel ‒ plenty o’ nice meat an’ nice

beds. We were spoken to like gentlemen an’ I only wish I could have stayed at the hotel a’ my life.” Some of them got work at the opposite site of the bay, Bryson went into fishing and farming at Sandy Point, “I liked the place, and only came home when sent for by the Government for sending me. I was happy, and preferred it to Greenock. I did not want to come home.” 30th July 1868 Meanwhile, by the end of July, the Arran had returned to Greenock. Ahead of her was a letter from a crewmember to his family back home which recounted the atrocities that had been committed during the journey. Word spread quickly in the town and on the evening of the 30th July, a hostile crowd awaited the Arran at Albert Harbour. Upon seeing Captain Watt and First Mate James Kerr, the hissing mob erupted into angry outburst. Several members of the public reportedly jumped aboard the ship seeking vigilante justice whilst the captain and the first mate hid in their cabins until police arrived. After several hours, the police escorted the crew off the ship to the Sheriff Court House, all the while the mob pelting the cab with whatever they could throw. Following preliminary investigations, both the captain and the mate were detained until their trial in a few

Above: Albert Harbour

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months’ time. 23rd November 1868 On Monday 23rd November, the trial of Robert Watt and James Kerr began at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh. Despite the testimonies of the stowaways presented during the trial and the overwhelming evidence of mistreatment from the prosecution, including several retellings of how the two Hughs perished alone out in the ice fields, there were still those who spoke to the character of Captain Robert Watt. The defence also argued that the treatment of the boys was suitable to their actions and behaviour on board the ship. A member of the crew, Robert Hunter, was called up to the defence saying, “I have never sailed with this captain before. He is a good captain and kind to his crew... At first the stowaways said they were all fed, but afterwards they told the reverse… I have seen Bryson stealing food repeatedly.” The boys they state, had not been ill-treated, but had been treated kindly, the mate adding that he could not have behaved better to his own family. The captain and first mate were found guilty of culpable homicide but received minimal sentences, they were sentenced to 18 and 4 months’ imprisonment respectively.


Harbours of Greenock

Above: Mid Quay West Harbour

Above: Customhouse Entrance and Part of Steamboat Quay

Above: Customhouse Quay

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Above: Greenock From James Watt Dock

Above: Victoria Harbour

Above: View Across River Clyde From Customhouse Quay 32


• Chapter 07 •

The Gaels of Greenock Frances Dunlop

In the peaceful kirkyard of Glendaruel there is a small tombstone with a poignant inscription: “Here lyes interred the remains of Daniel Black Cooper in Greenock son to John Black boatman there who departed this life the 10 of June 1778 aged 28 years to whose memory this stone is erected.”

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hat a sad story lies behind these few short lines. We can imagine John Black moving to Greenock with his family, as so many Highlanders were doing at the time, looking for work and a better life. The Clyde during the 1700s was a busy river, full not only with large sailing ships, but with fishing vessels and small boats of all kinds, ferrying both goods and people to and from the town. Most boatmen that worked on the river were Gaels, and one of them was John Black. How proud he must have been when his son completed his apprenticeship as a cooper as a tradesman’s wages would have made a huge difference to the family finances. And then, after a few short years, Daniel died at a tragically young age. Was it an accident? Or did he succumb to one of the nasty diseases which lurked in the crowded, foetid closes of the town? (Like Burns' Highland Mary, who died of typhus in Charles Street in 1786.) We can imagine the anguish that was felt as the young man’s coffin was carried down the Firth, very likely in his father’s boat, up the Kyles of Bute and Loch Riddon, to be borne back to the Glen for burial. The lines on his tombstone encapsulate an all too common story of hope and heartbreak. Increasingly throughout the nineteenth century and beyond, Highlanders poured into Greenock, leaving behind the harsh conditions at home. When Daniel Black was born in 1750, it was only four short years since the Battle of Culloden, which brought such devastating consequences to the Highlands. “Rebels” were hunted down; homes were burned; Highland dress was outlawed; and the erosion of Gaelic culture and identity had begun. In subsequent years, a succession of bad harvests led to frequent famine. Landlords were ruthlessly clearing the people from their overcrowded estates to make way for sheep, which would bring in more profit, and the depopulation of the Highlands was well under way. Many emigrated to the Americas or Australia whilst others flooded into the cities of the Lowlands and many came to Greenock by ship. By the time the Rev. Mr Archibald Reid was writing his report in 1892 for the Statistical Account of Scotland, there were 2287 families in Greenock, of which he reckoned 1825 were Highland. Mostly they came from nearby Argyll, and the most common surname in the town was Campbell. “Most of the labourers, boatmen, sailors etc. in Greenock are from the Highlands, and they often settle here with large families to support which requires their utmost industry and application”.

Above: Grave of Daniel Black

Above: Glendaruel Many men found work in the developing shipbuilding industry whilst the girls and women were mostly employed in domestic service. They came to an alien land, where their language was not understood; where they were mocked as “teuchters”. Their names were anglicised and, then as now, nicknames were widely used. So John Black may have been named for his own hair colour and dark complexion, or have inherited the nickname from an ancestor. In his native Glendaruel, he would be known as “Ian Dubh” or “Ian Mac ‘ill dhuibh”. His son would perhaps be known as “Dὸmhnall Ian Dhuibh”. Dὸmhnall sounded a bit like Dan’l, so he became Daniel Black in “civilised”, English-speaking society.

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he held services in a tent in the Inverkip Street cemetery. Funds were quickly raised, and the new Free Gaelic Church was opened in Jamaica Street in 1844.

Letter to the Greenock Advertiser, 11th June 1852 "We believe that this jaw-breaking tongue is one bar to Highland amelioration and renders our countrymen belonging to the Highland districts foreigners to their fellow-citizens. Older Highlanders regard it as a very expressive vehicle for devout sentiment, but how can this be considering the poverty of the language? … It is a matter of great consequence to have English taught universally to the rising Celts, who in many, if not most cases will require to leave their native hills and villages for scenes of exertion. Indeed, it would be a great matter to have Gaelic extinguished altogether as a spoken language. There is no use for it in the world, and it stands in the way of the well-doing and well-being of those whose only principal language it unfortunately happens to be."

Above: The former St Columba’s Gaelic Church, Grey Place A song of homesickness from the mid-nineteenth century mentions the attitudes the Gaels often encountered in their new home: “Nuair theid mi Là na Sàbaid dhan eaglais airson sàmhchar. Cha tuig mi srann dhan cànan: ‘s e ‘Ghàidhlig a bha bhuamsa. Ach than a Goill ag radha nach d’ fhiach a’ chainnt a’ Ghàdhlig. ‘S an Ti a rinn gach cànan, cha d’ dh’fhàg e ‘Ghàidhlig suarach…” “On the Sabbath Day when I go to Church for some peace, I don’t understand the drone of the talk, there was no Gaelic. The lowlanders say that Gaelic is a useless language, but the Lord who made all tongues didn’t make Gaelic any less worthy…”

Above: Communion table from the Gaelic Parish Church, now in Westburn Church, Nelson St The Greenock Gaels had plenty of company among their own people. Rev. Reid reported in 1792 that “one may By the early years of the twentieth century there was another at times walk from one end of the town to the other... Without split, and the members of the congregation who joined the hearing a word of any language but Gaelic.” He also notes, newly formed United Free Church found a new home in the “Of this, their native tongue, which is said to be copious and former St Thomas’s in Grey Place. This became St Columba’s expressive, the Highlanders are amazingly fond.” Gaelic Church. So it was not surprising that the Presbyterian majority In 1979, the North Kirk on the Esplanade united with among them soon wanted a place of worship where they could St Columba’s Gaelic to form the Old West. In 1996, the West hear preaching in their own language, and to that end those Kirk in Nelson Street united with the Gaelic Parish Church who could afford it started raising funds in 1782. in Westburn Street to form the Old Kirk (now Westburn). In the meantime, Mr Blair, assistant at the Mid Kirk, In 1835, Highlander’s Academy was opened after preached in Gaelic in the Star Hall in Broad Close. Then the fundraising by the Highlanders’ Church and School minister of the Kirk, Rev. John Adam, allowed the Highland Association. The first building was in Roxburgh Street, congregation to use his church on Sunday evenings. However, later moving to Mount Pleasant Street to make way for there were complaints from his regular members that the pews the new railway. The intention was to provide children were left in an untidy condition, and that the seats and books with “a sound English and commercial education”. had grease dripped over them from the candles where were required on the dark winter nights. The complainers even took the matter to the Town Council where both Rev. Adam and “Landlords were ruthlessly the Council took no action. clearing the people from their The Gaelic Chapel, later to become the Gaelic Parish overcrowded estates to make way Church, was opened in 1792, beside the West Burn. At the for sheep, which would bring in Disruption of 1843 where members of The Church of more profit, and the depopulation of Scotland broke away over the issue of the Church’s the Highlands was well under way.” relationship with the state, the minister Rev. Angus McBean seceded along with most of his congregation. For a time, 34


Above: Commemorative plaques from Highlanders’ Academy, founded to “promote the intellectual, moral and religious improvement of the children of Highlanders & of other classes in the community of Greenock, by affording good and cheap education to the poor.” This was the era when children were discouraged from speaking Gaelic, or even punished in school for doing so, as it was thought that the language would hold them back. Now that we understand better the benefits of bilingualism, it is perhaps poetic justice that the special unit for educating children through the medium of Gaelic was placed in Highlanders’. It is now incorporated into Whinhill Primary School. By the late nineteenth century, there were several flourishing societies where Gaels could socialise. Comunn Gàidealach Ghrianaig (Greenock Highlanders’ Society) was founded in 1872 “for the following objects: 1. For the purpose of preserving the language, literature, music, poetry, antiquities and athletic games of the Highlanders, and for encouraging the more general use of the national dress; 2. For founding one or more bursaries or to make annual or other grants of money in aid of diligent or distinguished students, being natives, or sons of natives of the Highlands of Scotland; 3. For establishing a fund for affording temporal relief to deserving and destitute Highlanders, and assisting worthy persons coming from the Highlands in quest of employment.”

known in Gaelic as Màiri Mhór nan Oran (Big Mary of the Songs). It was said that she could “warm up a ceilidh like ten quarts of whisky”. From 1876 to 1883 she worked in Greenock as a district nurse. At this period, the Highland land question was the burning issue of the day, and Màiri composed songs, which are still popular, in support of crofters’ rights. She seems to have enjoyed her time in Greenock. One of her songs, Deoch Slàinte Gàidheil Ghrianaig, is dedicated to her friends in the Ossianic Club; “Ach nuair a ruigeas mi baile Ghrianaig, Far ‘m bi na siantanan dian a’ dὸrtadh, Bidh cὸmhlan rianail de Ghàidheil fhiachail Ag innse sgeula dhomh ‘n Comunn Oisein.” “But when I reach the town of Greenock, Where the stormy cloudbursts pour down, There will be a fine company of worthy Gaels, Telling me a tale at the Ossian Club.” It might seem a bit cheeky for a native of Skye to be making remarks about Greenock weather – but maybe it reminded her of home! Màiri was involved in a notable event, the New Year shinty match of 1877, honouring a long-standing tradition in the Highlands and Islands. It was held in celebration of the Old New Year (12th January).

The society’s premises at 41 Nicholson Street was open every evening. There were also the Ossainic Club and the United Highlanders’ Society. A famous frequenter of their gatherings was the renowned, and well-loved poetess, Mary MacPherson, always

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The match was advertised in the Greenock Telegraph on Friday 12th January 1877: “The match will take place in a field near the Craigs. The Greenock Men will meet their Glasgow Co-Champions at the Caledonian Railway Station at 2.30 pm and then march to the field by Finnart, headed by pipers. Glasgow Chieftain – A McQueen; Greenock Chieftain – Donald MacRaild. Admission to ground 6d.” The Craigs, Newark Street, was a mansion belonging to Robert Cuthbertson, shipowner and the Greenock Chieftain, Dr Donald MacRaild from Skye, was an office bearer of the Greenock Highlanders’ Society. The previous year, Màiri had done the catering for the match in Glasgow, with “a creelful of bannocks, a cheese as big as the moon, and a wee drop of Ferintosh to put life in the lads.” In her song The Greenock Shinty Match, she says, “Last year we baked them good substantial bannocks, but this year they were more than an inch thick!” The Royal National Mod, which takes place every October, has become a huge event, second only to the Edinburgh Festival. The first Mod, held in Oban in 1892, was a one-day affair, with competitions in solo and choral singing, somewhat on the model of the Welsh Eisteddfod. Màiri Mhór took part, but didn’t win any prizes. Many Greenock-based Gaels distinguished themselves over the years, with Gold medal winners including Tom Lawrie, Allan MacLean, Duncan C MacLellan, Ina MacDiarmid, and Margaret C Mitchell. Choral singing had never been a tradition in Gaeldom as it had been in Wales, but now Gaelic choirs began to spring up, including Greenock Gaelic Choir. The choir of St Columba Gaelic Church in Glasgow led the way. In 1900, the choir published A’ Chὸisir Chiùil, with four-part arrangements of Gaelic songs. This became the springboard for a whole new tradition in Gaelic singing, more in line with mainstream European music. Greenock Gaelic Choir split in two, with the offshoot being known as Greenock Gaelic Choral Society (later Inverclyde Gaelic Choir). Both choirs had success at the National Mod. Greenock Gaelic Choir carried off the coveted Lovat and Tullibardine trophy no fewer than ten times in the course of its history. Both choirs have now ceased to exist, but Gaelic songs are still sung locally by Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh, founded within Greenock Gaelic Choir in 2000. This group chooses to return to the traditional roots of Gaelic songs, trying to recreate the context in which the songs would originally have been sung, echoing the sounds that once would have been heard through the streets of Greenock.

Above: Nearly fifty years after winning the Gold Medal, Allan MacLean was still enjoying the Mod with Inverclyde Gaelic Choir

Above: Inverclyde Gaelic Choir at Golspie Mod, 1977

Above: Greenock Gaelic Choir, Fort William, 1981

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• Chapter 08 •

Fort Matilda & Princes Pier Dutch Gable Volunteers

Fort Matilda

Above: Battery and Married Quarters, Fort Matilda, 1915

T

he town and harbour of Greenock had previously been defended by two batteries, located where the present container terminal now stands. The first, Fort Beauclerc, was built in 1760 as a consequence of the seven years’ war against France, Austria and Russia (1756 to 1763), when French war ships were operating off Ailsa Craig. It was described as having “rude architecture” and mounted twelve guns. The fort was strengthened in 1778 during the American War of Independence, before being replaced in 1797 by Fort Jervis, which mounted twelve 24 pounders, before it too was demolished in 1809. In 1813, at the time of the war with America (1812 – 1815), Greenock magistrates wrote to the Commander-in-Chief for Scotland and the Board of Ordnance, expressing their concerns about the defenceless state of the town and harbour. Their worries were due to American war ships having already captured a number of merchant ships within a few days of their leaving the port. Plans were drawn up in September 1813 for a battery of nine guns to be placed at Whitefarlane Point, and the site was acquired by the War Department on 4thApril 1814 after the granting of a land feu by Sir Michael Shaw Stewart. Construction of an open battery for eleven smooth bore guns was completed in 1819. Just one year later, the fort was dismantled “in consequence of [the] disturbed state of the country”, and the guns, carriages and ammunition were taken to

Dumbarton Castle. By 1852, the fort was stated as being in good condition, although it had no guns. However, just three years later in 1855, it was reported as being dilapidated. The erection of a new fort by J. & W. Taylor of Glasgow started in January 1858 and was completed by December. A Queen’s birthday salute of 21 guns was fired on 24th May 1861 and a Royal salute fired for the Prince of Wales marriage on 10th March 1863. By 1879 the fort still had eight guns, but was surrounded by buildings and considered obsolete. In 1880, a Committee on the Defence of the Merchantile Ports of the United Kingdom was set up under the chairmanship of Lord Morley (Under Secretary of State for War). The resulting report was considered by the Inspector General of Fortification, who advocated a “single line of defence” for the Clyde, to be based at Fort Matilda. This location was chosen as the river could be closed by submarine mines supported by batteries at Barons Point, Covehill above Gourock, the hill above Fort Matilda, and at Portkil Point. The construction of a submarine mining station and pier on the East side of the fort commenced in January 1886 and was completed by the end of the year.

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Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 10th May 1886 Defences of the Clyde “In order to facilitate the instruction of the new Torpedo Company of the 1st Lanark Engineers, a party of the Royal Engineers, consisting of two quartermaster-sergeants, two corporals, and nine sappers, have been engaged at Fort Matilda at Greenock for the past week in preparing submarine mines and receiving stores etc., for the use of the volunteers… Ground to the west of the fort has been placed at the disposal of the Renfrew and Dumbarton Artillery Volunteers for the purpose of placing guns for practice purposes etc., the artillery having previously used the guns with which the fort was formerly mounted.” After periods of training by the Submarine Miners, it was customary to perform a display of submarine explosions. Reports exist of these events at Portkil Bay in 1891, and off Fort Matilda in 1904. In 1887 three 64 pounder rifled muzzle loading guns had been sent to the fort for drill and practice, and in 1894 two 6 pounder Quick Fire guns and two Maxim machine guns were provided to cover the minefield. It was decided in 1899 that the fort should be remodelled yet again, replacing the 6 pounders with two 4.7-inch Quick Fire guns. Construction started in March 1902 and the three 64 pounder and two 6 pounder guns were returned to Ordnance Stores. Edinburgh Evening News, 18th November 1901 The Clyde Defences “The War Office has decided in furtherance of the scheme for the better defence of the Clyde, that the fort at Fort Matilda, Greenock shall be entirely reconstructed, and the contracts for the extensive alterations have now been fixed. Most of the present fort will be demolished and strong works put up, which will have large and small guns of the latest patterns. It is said that the brickwork alone will cost over £8000.” In August 1903, Lord Roberts inspected the work being performed on the defences at Fort Matilda, “The alterations for the strengthening of the fortress are almost completed, the old battery has been demolished and on

Above: Fort Matilda & Paddlesteamer Edinburgh Castle, 1890s

the site a new searchlight [there were two of them], magazine, engine room and dynamo room have been erected. There has been built a new gun emplacement, upon which two 4.7 guns will be mounted. The fort is enclosed by massive walls of concrete and is further protected by a large embankment in front.” By July 1904, two 4.7-inch Quick Fire Mk. V guns were installed and two searchlights added. A battery at Portkil with two 4.7 inch guns, two 6 inch guns and two search lights were completed the same year to cross fire with the guns at Fort Matilda. The submarine mining establishment was abolished the same year. In December 1912 the Mk. V guns were removed and returned to Woolwich, being replaced by two Mk.1V guns. These were dismounted in February 1917 and sent to the Officer in Charge, they were then utilized on Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships at Princes Dock, Glasgow. By 1937 the two searchlights had been removed and the fort was subsequently demolished. The site feu reverted to Sir W. Guy Shaw Stewart of Ardgowan in 1945, however there had been an Admiralty research station started on the site in 1944 and completed by early 1947. The new building, a large 4 story ‘unhardened’ red brick building designed in a U shape, along with the remaining Submarine Mining Station buildings were retained within the secure compound and became known as the Navy Buildings. They housed the local office of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and were home to H.M.S. Dalriada (a Royal Naval Reserve training centre), as well as a large number of other government departments and agencies. These included a meteorological office, the local tax office and the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association. In September 2012, the property was placed on the market by the Ministry of Defence following the closure of the coastguard facilities based there. The name Fort Matilda remains in use in Greenock as the name of the nearby railway station. The railway ticket office building on the station platform is now occupied by the local model railway club.

Above: 2/1 Company Sergeants Clyde R.G.A

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Princes Pier

A

Above: West End of Princes Pier, Greenock

t the foot of Campbell Street is Greenock Ocean Terminal, which handles freight at the container terminal and is busy with cruise liners during the summer season. It is one of the few ports where large vessels can dock at the quayside. Until 1967, Princes Pier with its elegant station building stood on this site. The original station was opened in 1869 as Greenock Albert Harbour. Later it was renamed Greenock Princes Pier and was replaced in 1894 by a new station on a slightly different site. Trains on the Glasgow and South Western railway ran from St Enoch station in Glasgow, passing through Kilmacolm to Princes Pier, and connecting with the river steamers. There was also heavy freight traffic to the adjoining Albert Harbour goods depot, including cattle boats from Ireland, with the cattle being unloaded into the extensive lairage between Princes Pier and Albert Harbour. The journey from Glasgow originally took about an hour. By the end of the nineteenth century, times were reduced in a race with the rival Caledonian Steam Packet Company which ran from Glasgow Central to Gourock. A businessman could leave Glasgow on the 4.03pm train from St Enoch on a summer Friday, catch the connecting steamer at Princes Pier, and be at Dunoon by 5 o’clock to spend the weekend with his family “doon the watter”.

There were few accidents on the line, but a spectacular incident took place in 1936; Dundee Courier, Sat 11th April 1936 Guard Buried in Wreckage for an Hour “Part of a cattle train crashed into an empty passenger train which was standing in Prince’s Pier Station, Greenock late last night. Sixty animals were either killed outright or had to be destroyed.  A train comprising 37 waggons and carrying 600 Irish cattle for Carlisle was proceeding up a steep incline outside the station when a coupling between the sixth and seventh waggons nearest the engine broke. The runaway waggons careered down the gradient and crashed with great force into an empty passenger train standing in the station. Engine Derailed The engine of the passenger train was knocked off the rails. Nine of the cattle waggons were smashed. The mutilated animals were destroyed by humane killers, which were brought from the local slaughter-house. The line was piled high with wreckage, and dead and wounded cattle were strewn about the station. The guard of the cattle train, Daniel Taylor (47) of Hallside Street, Glasgow, had a remarkable escape. He was buried in a mass of wreckage. Policemen, firemen, railway ambulance men, and many volunteers set to work to extricate Taylor. He retained consciousness, and, when part of the

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debris had been removed, he was able to direct the operations of the rescuers. After over an hour’s work they succeeded in getting him clear and he was removed to the infirmary suffering from serious injuries to legs and body.” The Clyde was an important anchorage during World War Two, and this combined with the local shipbuilding industry made the town a prime target for German bombs. The Greenock Blitz took place on the nights of 6th and 7th May 1941 and Princes Pier Station was used as a temporary mortuary, with over 200 bodies being laid out on the platforms for identification. During the war years, Princes Pier was a troop train terminus. The soldiers would throw sweets to the hundreds of children waiting along the line, waving to the trains. For a time, Greenock was the richest town in Britain, if not the world! The Government decided to send the country’s entire gold reserves to Canada and around seven billion dollars of bullion, referred to in official correspondence as “fish”, passed through Princes Pier in the biggest financial transaction in history. In the 1950s, the mighty Cunard and Canadian Pacific transatlantic liners called regularly at Princes Pier, taking thousands of emigrants to Canada. With rail passenger numbers dwindling and the Central-Gourock line proving more popular, the rail service to Princes Pier was cut to goods trains and special boat trains, carrying passengers to and from the liners. The last boat train ran in November 1965 and freight services finally ceased in September 1966.

Above: Princes Pier Station Building

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In the summer of 1967, demolition of Princes Pier Station began. The debris was used to fill in the Albert Harbour and Greenock Ocean Terminal was constructed on the site. Although the Princes Pier in the 1950s was always a busy commercial place, it was also a marvellous play area and an exciting place for children. The older boys would climb under and clamber among the wet and barnacled wooden piles. They were also keen and quick to make money any way they could, carrying or helping with luggage from the trains to steamers. One enterprising boy, realising that the sailors could not come ashore, would buy a selection of newspapers for a very small amount, about 4d (four old pence), and sail out on a tender and sell them for two shillings each. Children would run over the railway bridge, zigzag past the cattle pens and the noise of the animals, then on to the main pier, where you were met by the loud noise of the engines of the steamers and the trains, the gangways clanking, the ropes whizzing through the air, and above all the voices: workmen shouting and calling to each other, people waiting to board the steamers. Sometimes pipes would be playing, as people embarked on one of the tenders out to the waiting Empresses to start their journey to Canada, their families and friends crying, and the children playing and laughing in amongst their farewells, with no idea that they were aware they might not see each other ever again.


Above: Aerial view looking south of Prince's Pier/Albert Harbour complex as it existed prior to redevelopment of the ground as a Container Terminal

Above: Aerial view looking north of Prince's Pier/Albert Harbour complex as it existed prior to redevelopment of the ground as a Container Terminal

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Above: Crane erection area and south container storage area from tower Tl. July 1968

Above: View from lighting tower Tl looking east and embracing part quay construction. Part of crane erection area, right foreground. Casting yard.

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• Chapter 09 •

Stanley Spencer

Above: Stanley Spencer Sketching A Riveter

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ir Stanley Spencer was an artist whose strong connection with Port Glasgow began in May 1940. One month after war was declared, Spencer contacted his dealer Dudley Tooth, asking him to find him a war job, in some sort of official art employment. In February, Spencer met a representative from the Ministry of Information who suggested that Spencer paint pictures of Britain’s war effort and shipbuilding was the chosen subject. Over the next few months, arrangements were made for Spencer to go to Lithgow’s Yard on the Clyde and in May 1940, he arrived in Port Glasgow. Upon arrival, Spencer found a shipyard working at full production and despite the ongoing disputes between workers, employers, and unions, Spencer’s work presented a softened and domesticated view of the shipbuilding community. This was likely due to his disinterest in politics or propaganda. He wrote of the workers, “somehow they do, by their humanness, give to their immediate surroundings of angles, bars, structure, braces, corners and whatnot a homely touch. A ledge on which their teapot stands was

never meant for it, yet seems more meant for that than for its final purpose.” He also described Lithgow’s as “dark and cosy and full of mysterious places and happenings [where] many of the corners of Lithgow’s factory moved me in much the same way as I was by the rooms of my childhood.” Spencer responded to these surroundings, and the communal effort which he found in the shipyards, by emphasising the activity of people in his paintings, rather than the machinery and ship architecture. References to the war itself are also largely absent from his work at Port Glasgow. He paints a normal shipyard hard at work, which could have just as easily have been painted during peace time. From his first collection of sketches which he would quickly draw on toilet paper, Spencer was given approval to begin painting. These sketches were his source material throughout the six years he spent on the series. Throughout the war, Spencer averaged just one painting a year. His shipyard paintings alone would have made a significant contribution to his work, however Spencer

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developed an attachment to the wider community and people of Port Glasgow. Despite his remit to paint Britain’s war effort, he also sketched and painted the people and landscapes that he saw outside of the shipyards, “I need people in my pictures as I need them in my life. A place is incomplete without a person. A person is a place’s fulfilment, as a place is a person’s.” Although Spencer quickly developed close relationships with the people of Port Glasgow, the initial impression of him by the workers was that “he was a tramp who had sneaked in the gate. His clothes didn’t seem to fit him, they just seemed to hang on him... We thought he had got by Security and stumbled in.” Whilst visiting Port Glasgow, Spencer stayed at a number of addresses, most notably Glencairn boarding house on Glasgow Road, run by Mrs Whiteford. As well as offering a view of the domesticity of the shipyards, Spencer’s paintings also presented a religious dimension to them which went beyond a strictly accurate recording of what he saw. Speaking about the yards, Spencer made biblical references, “I wish all the time to make what happens in the day to be experienced as a kind of Garden of Eden... As to serpents there are so many you can hardly walk for them in the yards, the snakes being such things as Welders tubes, steel hawsers for drawing frames out of the furnaces and some tubes climb about like those in trees, these tubes being the feeders to the hydraulic grips and hydraulic frame bending machines. The trees in this case are the cranes, the branches of which swing horizontally and silently about over one’s head.” Spencer took industry as a metaphor for religion one step further, by viewing shipbuilding activities themselves as profoundly religious. “When I went into the room where big pieces of stiff material were being sewn... I was as disinclined to disturb the atmosphere as I would be to disturb a religious service, even more so, as in the religious service, it is prescribed that you shall not do so, whereas here there seemed something in the very work itself that made me feel the need for respect and peace.” Ultimately, it was this deviation from painting a strict record of shipyard work which ended Spencer’s commission in Port Glasgow. Lithgow’s owner, Sir James Lithgow, expressed his concern about wanting a truer picture of shipyard life and in 1946, Spencer left Port Glasgow and never returned.

Top: Stanley Spencer Sketching on Toilet Paper Right: Stanley Spencer Drawing at Lithgowʼs Yard

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The Resurrection Series (1947-50)

Above: The Resurrection: Port Glasgow (1947 - 50), Sir Stanley Spencer ©Tate, London 2016

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“ This walk past Port Glasgow cemetery inspired Spencer’s famous Resurrection Series which includes The Hill of Zion, The Angels of the Apocalypse, and The Resurrection: Reunion of Families. Port Glasgow’s cemeteries have had a long and fascinating untold history, as the following chapter demonstrates.

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One evening in Port Glasgow when unable to sleep due to a jazz band playing in the drawing-room just below me, I walked up along the road past the gasworks to where I saw a cemetery on a gently rising slope… I seemed then to see that all in the plain were resurrecting and moving towards it… I knew then that the resurrection would be directed from this hill.ˮ


• Chapter 10 •

Three Ancient Monuments & One's Cruel Fate John Smith

T

he idea of this study was to find out about the history of three very old cemeteries in the town of Port Glasgow. These were used continuously by the town until the mid-nineteenth century, when the main Port Glasgow cemetery was built. What I wanted to know was who had used them? What happened to them? And what state are they in now and for the future? All three of these cemeteries still exist: The Blackstone, or as it was known, the East Burying Ground; St Andrews or Parish Burying Ground; and Newark or Chapel Burying Ground. Two of the cemeteries, Chapel and Parish, have not been changed much over time. The Blackstone cemetery however, is quite different from its first shape. The Parish cemetery surrounds St Andrews church, which was built in the early eighteenth century. The Chapel cemetery is beside the Chapel of Ease or Newark Church, and was opened about the late eighteenth century. The Blackstone cemetery is the oldest in the town and is situated a few hundred yards from Newark Castle, in the east end of the old village of Newark. The old village predated the New Port of Glasgow, which was a new town

started in 1668. The village was very old, dating back to the thirteenth century, so Blackstone may have a long history. An Act of Parliament in 1855 paved the way for government approval of new ways to site community graveyards. The new idea was to place the graveyards out of town. Greenock had already opened a new graveyard, and Port Glasgow was well on the way for approval of its own, however there was significant opposition to the complete closure of existing graveyards. Many people still wanted to use the graveyards and they put their cases in front of a sheriff. One famous petitioner was John Wood the shipbuilder, who had more than one lair in the Chapel cemetery. The practices of Victorian burials were graphically shown in testimonies in 1859, as people who still wanted to use the graveyards put their cases in front of a sheriff. The petition by the Town Council by Sheriff Tennent was that all three should be closed, and it was based on lack of decency, offensiveness, and danger to health. However, there was a leniency to those families who wished to use the lairs for those alive at this time.

Above: Newark Castle, Port Glasgow

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Sanitary Condition of the Burying Ground at Port Glasgow

are all dangerous to health, offensive, and contrary to decency, and praying the Sheriff to find accordingly. The Sheriff appointed Thursday, the 6th of October next, at eleven o’clock, in the Sheriff Clerk’s Office, for an inquiry into the allegations in the petition regarding the Parish Kirk-yard, and the 10th of October at eleven o’clock forenoon, in the same place, for enquiring into the allegations in the petition against Blackstone and Chapel Burying Grounds, and appointed due intimations there of to be made by advertisement.”

“Yesterday Mr Archibald MacCallum, writer, Port Glasgow, appeared before Sheriff Tennent, and presented a petition at the instance of James Anderson of High Holm, banker, in Port Glasgow, and nine other gentlemen assessed for the relief of the poor of the parish of Port Glasgow, setting forth that the three burying grounds called ‘The Parish Kirk-yard’, ‘Blackstone Burying Ground’, and ‘The Chapel Burying Ground’,

The Blackstone Cemetery

Above: Gourock Ropeworks Building Showing Sites of East & West Burying Grounds

T

he Gourock Ropeworks building, with the East Burying Ground in the patch of land to the left of the photograph. The land at the other side of the building was where the West Burying Ground was situated. The Blackstone Burying Ground is very old and fronts Bay Street and Campbell Street. Although there was no known church associated with it, in the 1830s it was used to bury cholera victims. In the past it was the burial site for non-conformists such as Quakers and possibly Catholics. Whilst there are no well-known Port Glasgow personnel

buried there, it is thought there were some very impressive gravestones at one time. The complete graveyard was enclosed by a stone wall in 1859, with two internal divisions separated by an east/west wall. The cemetery was surrounded by various developments such as the Gourock Ropeworks and dwelling houses, which on the southeast, where within 9 feet of the graveyard. Whilst the three cemeteries were set up principally for those who could pay to be buried, the northern division of the Blackstone was entirely common ground for the poor, whilst the southern division was for private individuals.

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Above: Blackstone Burial Ground, 1856 The Blackstone northern division was the most important graveyard where paupers and charity victims could be buried in Port Glasgow and as a result, the graveyard got extremely full. In the northern division, four feet of additional earth was added to allow more burials. Interments were laid as close as possible and there was no walkway between graves. The gravedigger, when he dug, always saw the next lying coffin and the one below as there was very little earth between them. In seven years, the common division had been filled twice over and the topmost coffins were a mere two feet from the surface, an amount that the local surgeon thought far too near to the surface. The gravedigger was also tasked with removing coffins where he saw that the body had decayed sufficiently enough to leave space for the next occupier. “Mrs Hall – ‘I reside in Blackstone’s buildings. The upper division of the graveyard is immediately in front of my house. Some years ago a great many interments were made in the corner fronting my window, and when the graves were opened the smell was very offensive; so much so, that often when coming home from my work I could not take my food.’ Mrs McLarry – ‘I have resided in Blackstone’s buildings for 18 years. Before the passage which separates the graveyard from the dwelling houses was causewayed,

water was almost constantly seen oozing from the wall of the burying ground; it ran down the passage. This water has a greenish appearance, and very disagreeable smell’.” The southern division at Blackstone was also ancient. The oldest date on a gravestone was 1702 though there may be older ones. It was used for private lairs and was good ground for burials. Part of the southern division was destroyed by the coming of the Railway Company in 1841, and they compensated by adding additional soil to this part to allow it to be used in future. Whilst each division was approximately the same size, in the four years from 1855 until 1859, only 14 of the 160 burials in the cemetery were in the southern division.

The Chapel Burying Ground The Chapel Burying Ground is to the west of the main town and has retained many of its gravestones. It is the resting ground of three of the most famous sons of Port Glasgow. John Wood Senior, John Wood Junior, Charles Wood, and their families are buried there. John Wood Senior was one of the first two shipbuilders in Port Glasgow. He began building ships in 1783 and died in 1811. John Wood Junior contracted with Henry Bell to build the ‘Comet’, the first sea going steamship in Europe. It was completed in 1812 and John Wood became the most

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respected builder on the Clyde. He went on to build the first of four Cunard ships, the Acadia in 1841. Charles Wood was John’s brother and was well known for innovative ships and he built one of the Cunard liners, the Caledonia, also in 1841. “In clayey, wet soil a body takes much longer to decompose than in open, porous soil. A grave ought not to be opened within ten years in clayey soil, and if it is opened sooner I consider it dangerous to health. In the course of decomposition human bodies emit gases dangerous to human life. In clayey soil these are pent up, and there is more danger in opening a grave in this soil than in more open ground. It is dangerous as well as offensive for the grave digger to require to

throw up the water from the grave to be adsorbed into the surrounding ground.” The Chapel graveyard was also crowded and there was no room for walkways, despite only having eight to ten burials per year in the 1850s. The Newark Church is in the middle of the burial ground and the ground slopes down towards Chapel Lane. The burying ground is 10 feet above the lane, where 15 houses were situated. The soil of the cemetery was wet and clayey and in winter, water had to be baled from the graves. It was also common practice to open old coffins and if bodies were decayed, remove them. The argument for closing the Chapel Burying Ground was not there were too many buried, but that the ground was not suitable for a graveyard.

Above: Chapel & Parish Burying Grounds, 1856

The Parish Burying Ground

a situation contrary to decency. An undertaker said the graveyard was often shut for burials because of the overcrowding. The coffins were very closely packed with five tiers of coffins in the common ground. People talked of nearby cellars having offensive smells and liquids oozing out of the graves. There were also great difficulties with the clay soils in wet weather. So in face of all these criticisms, all three of the graveyards were closed except for those who wished to be interred in an existing family grave. It was only asked of Sheriff Tennent that the graveyards were properly preserved in perpetuity.

The Parish Burying ground was the ground used by Presbyterians since the town was founded in 1668. The graveyard came first and the present church, St Andrews, is in fact built on stilts over graves. At the time the town belonged to Glasgow, and the church was built with Glasgow money. Many of the graves in the graveyard reflect Port Glasgow’s past as a bustling port. There are sea captains and Glasgow merchants buried there, as well as slave merchants like Robert Allason, who prospered with his brothers and rose to own large estates from their slave dealings with Africa and the West Indies. The petition to close the Parish Burying Ground centred on the dangers to health, with Dr Grieve giving evidence in 1859 to the sheriff of overcrowding, and

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What Has Happened Since the Closures ?

satisfied that there was no recent criminal incident, the dig was continued. It appears that the survey team was surprised to come across so many bones in Test Pit 3, which was initially expected to be outside the graveyard area. The bones were then carefully catalogued and cleaned. From my study of the maps in the 1850s, and the comments at the sheriffĘźs hearings, Test Pit 4 was placed in the private section and Test Pit 3 in the Common section. It now seems that when the graves were moved in 1960, was only the private section had been cleared. The common ground, or pauper ground, may have had several hundreds of burials that have been left undisturbed in the northern part of the old graveyard. Since this discovery, there has been little activity at the Blackstone site until recently. The land has a fence around it and the scrub grows wild in the area. I believe that if there are more burials found, there must be approval from the sheriff for each body to be moved and interred, something which would undoubtedly be a large headache for the developer. As of March 2016, work has begun on the ground to the west side of the Gourock Ropeworks building, but there is still no activity on the east side where the graveyard was located. There are major questions that arise from the Blackstone episode. It appears that the Council in 1960 only did a partial job and left a large area untouched. They also destroyed some of the heritage of Port Glasgow by destroying the gravestones that had been standing for over a century in the private section. Yet they had a local example they could have followed. In 1917, it was decided that the size of Harland and Wolf yard at the west end of Greenock was to be increased. This required the knocking down of the Old West Church. The community said that was allowable but the Church had to be stripped down and moved stone by stone and rebuilt. More than that, the headstones were all to be moved as well and repositioned in the new churchyard and preserved. A similar preservation of the tombstones could have taken place at the mass grave site in the Port Glasgow cemetery.

In the modern era, Newark Church has been converted into apartments but the graveyard, with its war memorial intact, still exists, as do the gravestones for the Woods. It is a rewarding place to visit with its fine view of Ardmore Point and the Public Park behind the Church. Similarly, St Andrews church is still used and the building is well maintained. The church stands at the head of Church Street and overlooks the town centre, laid out as it was in the 1700s. The graveyard is looked after and is still retained within its original walls and all of its gravestones appear to be in place. The biggest change has taken place at Blackstone cemetery which has, over the years, had many alterations. The site around the graveyard was bought over completely by the Gourock Ropeworks Company, including the walls around the burial ground. Some of the railings remained, and as small kids, many went into the ground to explore. The upper ground still had many gravestones and although in great disrepair, they could be read. There was a reluctance to build on the land, but in the late 1950’s the Ropeworks wanted to use the land to build a warehouse on. The Town Council agreed that something should be done for a large business in the town and they decided to move the graveyard occupants to a new resting ground. The plan was for a mass grave in the Woodhall cemetery to be completed in 1960. Fortunately, a volunteer historian in Rosneath heard of this and took time in 1959 to record all of the legible inscriptions on the headstones that remained before the move happened. In 1960, all the gravestones were dumped or lost, and the remains were moved. There is now a mass grave in the Port Glasgow cemetery with a single modern headstone. In 1970, a warehouse was built before the Gourock Ropeworks folded as a company and the land that was used for the graveyard became a waste ground and the beautiful Ropeworks Building, an apartment block. During the conversion, some of the graveyard on the west side became a car park. Boxes of bones were found during this work but this was glossed over. In 2008, planning permission was granted to Clyde Homes Bay Street to build on the area of the graveyard on the condition that proper archaeological checks were carried out. The plan was to build apartment blocks on both sides of the large Gourock Ropeworks Building. The west side of the Mill Building had no issues whatsoever and all results said that the land was free of any hindrances for building. There were only two issues that arose while looking at the east parcel of land. One was the remains of a possible mediaeval settlement along Bay Street, associated perhaps with Newark Castle. From the results, no finds were found of possible mediaeval remains. The other was the historical burial ground (the Blackstone cemetery), although that was apparently cleared away in 1960. The eastward survey was carried out with four test pits. Whilst Test Pits 1, 2 and 4 were clear, Test Pit 3 was the shocker. Numerous bones were found and the police were called in and the dig stopped. When the police were

Looking to the Future What does this say about the idea of properly preserving these historical sites in the future? What, for example, will happen to those still interred at Blackstone? Is there a plan being formulated to remove them with dignity? Or is the plan to let their remains lie there in peace? Some day there will be a need to reuse the Newark site or the Parish site. Will we follow Greenock’s example of the Old West Church or bulldoze away our heritage? It will need some careful watching by those who care for our forbearers and their dignity.

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• Chapter 11 •

The Glen, Port Glasgow Hugh VS McIntyre

Of the first 13 years of my life, I spent all bar the first 18 months at the Glen. Some of my ancestors were born there, and some died there. To the east of the Glen Burn was “up the town”, and to the west of Boundary Street was a long bus journey to the Central Picture House or the BB Cinema, or even the Pavilion if there wasn’t anywhere else to go. That we lived in a place apart we took for granted, but what and where was it ?

Above: A Sketch of the Glen, Port Glasgow, 1920

How the Glen Started

were associated with gardens and orchards. A doctor, writing in 1831, said he lived on Balfour Street, quite out of town. In 1803, the scene over the original boundary, in Greenock, was described in 1853 by the Greenock Advertiser, “... The road between (Greenock) and Port Glasgow wore a different aspect from what it does today. For half the distance the south side of that road was a wild, uncultivated fence or brushwood, some of the remains of which may be seen at Bogston station, on the railway, in the ivy-girt trees that have escaped the pruning knife of cultivation; while the space to the north, to the water edge, was luxuriant with brambles, whin and broom.”

The Glen developed from the short section of the Greenock East Parish that ran from near Bogston to the western boundary of Port Glasgow, the Devol’s Glen Burn. The 1865 Police Act moved the boundary west from the burn into Greenock by about 500 yards, to the centre of a narrow opening (the Diggings) that ran from the Port Glasgow Road north to the river, between the shipyard of Lawrence Hill and the Kingston Sawmill. Later, a street called Boundary Street was created, in line with the opening. The area became part of Port Glasgow, though until 1895 the inhabitants were still paying poor rates to Greenock. By the early 1800s the area had become isolated from both towns. The streets in Port Glasgow’s west end were developed as early as 1799, but the very few houses there

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The Great Reform Act map of 1832 shows barely a dozen small buildings, half of them widely spaced, between Bogston and the Glen Burn, with just a hint of a community growing at the burn. Two sections of the 1841 census cover the area almost exactly, and we are able to see for the first time who was there, and work out what was there, in some detail. One fairly obvious addition to the housing was Adamston Buildings, a gaunt tenement of 4 storeys, 3 closes and some shops that ran west from near the Burn on the south side of the road. In the 1940s that building housed 45 to 50 families in 1 and 2 room apartments. In 1841 it can’t have been up long, and it housed at most 20. 1841 Glen Population = 189 made up of 30 households (9 Males and 8 Females living in tents and the open air) Heads of Households Birthplace: 11 Renfrewshire 14 Elsewhere in Scotland 4 England 1 Ireland Occupations: 9 Female Servants 3 Male Servants 3 Farmers 2 Civil Engineers 2 Spirit Dealers 1 Gardener & Spirit Dealer 1 Farmer & Spirit Dealer 2 Potters 2 Duck Handloom Weavers 2 Apprentices 2 Railway Platers 2 Power Loom Weavers 2 Blacksmiths 2 Carters 1 Locker

1 Wood Measurer 1 Cottar 1 Cabinet Maker 2 Seamen 1 Mason 1 Shepard 1 Dressmaker 1 Special Porter 2 Sawyers 1 Ship Carpenter 2 Carpenters 1 Stemster 1 Independent 1 Married Woman 2 Inmates

Above: Devol's Glen, Port Glasgow By 1853, when the Greenock Advertiser commented on it, sawmills, forges, engineering works, a tannery, shipyards and a pottery had been established on the riverside west of the Devol’s Glen Burn, a growth of industry enabled by a number of branch lines run from the railway that was opened between Greenock and Paisley in 1841. Some may remember the succession of railway bridges that crossed over the road between Port Glasgow and Greenock until the last, near Cappielow, was removed in 2010. This scene, when viewed from Port Glasgow, which had little or no undeveloped ground through which to run railway branch lines, may have led to the westward move of the boundary. After the boundary move in 1865 the area developed steadily, and the population rose through in-migration – 436 in 1861, 955 in 1871, 2422 in 1881, and 2708 in 1891. By 1881 nearly half the working population was in shipbuilding. Chapelton Street, running south to the railway alongside the Burn, was there by 1874, and running south to the railway also were Houston Street by 1877, Octavia Street by 1882 and Argyle Street by 1876. Russell Street ran north to the Davie Shore twice. This street at one time ran from a point just east of Octavia Street – later it was moved to run from a few yards east of Houston Street, where it stayed until the Kingston Shipyard overtook it. The Greenock Road became Ardgowan Street. A row of cottages was built along the shore to the west of the Glen Mill, among them Clydeside Cottage, Clydeside Place and Hawthorn Cottage.

A major change was the erection of the Port Glasgow and Newark Sailcloth Companyʼs mill (aka the Glen Mill) on the foreshore by the Glen Burn in 1843. At that time most of the mill employees lived elsewhere, probably in Greenock. George Blake (The Gourock) wrote that the Greenock ladies who worked in the Port Glasgow mills would gather at 4 a.m. and march eastward singing. In 1851, the population was 188, and a quarter of the working population was in agriculture or domestic service. The shipyard of John Reid was close by just across the Glen Burn, with that of the more famous John Wood not much farther on, but at most 6 people in the area worked in shipbuilding in 1841 and only 4 in 1851. The census took a broad brush approach to addresses, hence 2 households lived at Hawthorn Cottage, 3 at East Chapelton, and 33 on Port Glasgow Road. Hawthorn Cottage was on the east corner of where Russell Street would later run down to the Davie Shore, East Chapelton was a farm, and the third will have been mainly Adamston Buildings.

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Memories of the Glen

on the right by the Glen Mill, but I don’t recall any of us ever mentioning Russell Street. To us, going down to the river was going down the Davie Shore. Right in the middle was the clubhouse of the Davie Shore Rowing Club. The stretch beyond the clubhouse was broad and flat, and that’s where we had sports (the same people always won), and football. At the riverside was a boat hut and a makeshift pier with a couple of motor boats, owned by people who lived nearby. The foreshore at the mill stretched right along to the Glen Burn. We could always get in via a gap in the fence. During WW2 there was a barrage balloon station on it.

Most of my early memories, 1936 onwards, are of Houston Street and the surrounding area near the Glen Burn, where I lived 4 stairs up in Adamston Buildings. Jimmy Cook’s stable was on the west side of Houston Street after a large dull red wooden building that was always shut, windows always opaque under netting. To this day I’ve no idea what went on in it. I can still see Jimmy sitting plucking a chicken. The west side continued with a nice grey stone tenement, No. 4 Houston Street, then a large red brick building belonging to the Glen Mill – and beyond that the sleeper fence of the railway. A branch line ran at ground level, with the Gourock to Glasgow line alongside and above. This area we called the lie-by – I believe its Sunday name was the lay-by. The branch line ran from a junction away west to the buffers near Chapelton Street, a hundred or so yards along from Houston Street, and all we ever saw on it were wagons (we called them trucks). On the run up to D-Day trains drawn by multiple engines came past, full of American and other military recently disembarked from the vessels that brought them across the Atlantic. We waved hopefully and got chewing gum, chocolate and the like thrown to us. Across the street on the east side was another large red mill store or such that stretched right along to Chapelton Street. Between this and another grey stone tenement, Nos 1 and 3, was a vacant space where the corrugated iron Baptist Church had stood until it caught fire in 1938. The fire spread to the adjoining tenement, and the tenants were rehoused at the other end of town, on Kelburn Terrace. We called this area The Tin Church. The fire damaged tenement was boarded up until after WW2 and became the Burnt Hooses – though forbidden it, we had our ways in. Down to Ardgowan Street, turn a wee bit right past Thomas Twaddle’s Dairy, and cross to Russell Street, originally Foster Street. A nice 2-storey house, Glen Cottage, stood at the western corner, and I’m sure there was a small cottage on that side a little further down. Russell Street ran to the river, bounded on the left by the Kingston Shipyard, and

Top: The Glen, Ardgowan Street Looking East Above: Ardgowan Street, 1976

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Chapelton Street at the Glen bridge ran south alongside the Burn to the railway bridge. On the right was a white washed cottage, then a tenement, then the entrance to a garage area. Through under the railway bridge was the wee bridge over the Burn on the left, leading to Glenburn Street. Straight on past a nice villa and the clubhouse of the Port Glasgow Protestant Athletic Club on the right was the Glen Brae running up to Lilybank. The path through the arch taking Glen Avenue over the burn to Lilybank was our door to the hills – now it’s closed off with one of the ubiquitous “Dangerous Path” notices in red. We didn’t use the path when walking up the burn looked a better option. During WW2 a small dam was made to give water for fire hoses. Eventually it filled with stones washed down by the burn in spate. The Glen Mill took its water from the burn via two black cast iron pipes that ran from a point well up the Burn. What the water was used for, we never learned – most likely it was used for treatment of the canvas. The north side of Ardgowan Street running west from the Glen bridge had the West End Spirit Store, always known as Broon’s, mine host being having been Mr James Brown. Then the Mill gate and the Mill offices. The very old small building next to this had wooden stairs and two small shops with a step down on entry. One was McGonigles (however spelled) – they sold papers and sundries, and the other was run, if I recall correctly, by the Misses Stirling who sold children’s clothing. The Glen Spirit Vaults, Morrison’s Pub, had a very handsome frontage in its youth and middle age. The grilles on the pavement through which barrels, etc. were lowered into the cellars were a favourite spot with us. We could lie looking into the cellars, or looking up at the sky, or simply observe the less sober of those coming out of the pub with a couple of bottles clinking and a nostalgic song about Scotland coming on. Simple pleasures. The large tenement in which the pub sat was Morrison’s Land – a wide passageway (the Wide Pend) led to Morrison’s Back, a large open space with a tenement running along the north side. The front of this tenement faced north, on a short cul-de-sac that ran off Russell Street. At an earlier time, Morrison’s Back housed Rodger’s Court, a little square of houses. The big red brick Mill store on the corner of Russell Street that had replaced Hawthorn Cottage, and Glen Cottage across the way, completed the buildings on the north side of Ardgowan Street. From there to the boundary stretched the wall and offices of the Kingston Shipyard. On the other side, the street from the Glen bridge to Houston Street was dominated by Adamston’s Buildings. 3 closes, 4 storeys with 45 families in each, and 7 to 8 shops. There was Margarita’s fish and chip shop – they were Italian, Margarita’s was the name that became attached to it. And we had a baker’s, two confectioners, a cobbler, a hairdresser, a newsagent, a fruiterer and a butcher. Many needs were satisfied by walking only a few yards. Next were the 2 closes of Chalmers’ Land, with Frank Ginesi’s café and ice cream the main attraction. On the corner with Houston Street was a 2-storey older building, Houston Place, with entrance stairs at the back. From Houston street west there was a line of tenements and shops. Jack Forsyth’s

butcher shop was on the corner with Houston Street, he was our butcher of choice. Miss Diamond had a newsagent’s next door, and that was where we got the Sunday papers (our other paper shop didn’t open on a Sunday), and in summer on a Sunday a tin of cream to accompany the jelly with our dinner before getting the bus to the Battery Park for a picnic. We didn’t have lunch in those days – we had breakfast, dinner and tea. Along at the corner with Octavia Street was Dunbar’s where one could get almost anything bar food, clothing and alcohol. They moved later to a site between Princes Street and Backrow Lane. Octavia Street was reckoned kind of “posh”, especially the tenement on the west side which had “wally” (tiled) closes. Further on was John Dickson’s radio shop. Few houses at the Glen had electricity, and radios (wirelesses they were often called at the time) were driven by accumulators – Dickson’s always had some charging. Argyle Street was never posh, though it had inside toilets. It started after a large gap in the tenements, and Ardgowan Street continued for a short distance until the Electricity Board Building – then Boundary Street, with the Model Lodging House on the east side and a small tenement on the other and Greenock side. A curiosity. In 1871, up a stair at No 41 Greenock Road (as Ardgowan Street was then called), lived Henry Murray, aged 33, master shipbuilder employing 250 men and 50 boys, with his wife, Janet, and four children. Up the same close lived an ironworks labourer, engine fitter, pawnbroker's clerk, sawyer, 3 ship carpenters and a ship joiner. Henry would eventually move to a much bigger house, but in 1871 he was in three rooms with no servants. The Glen disappeared from the 60s/70s onward, being in the way of some development or other. But the memories of it mean something to we who were fortunate enough to have lived there.

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The Glen (1952)

Above: Overton Paper Mill, Greenock

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Š Glasgow Museums. he painting of the Glen captures the affection and respect that Spencer felt for the inhabitants of Port Glasgow. Despite his vastly different life experiences from the

local people, he paints himself in this work, carrying his portfolio under his arm, in the same way as he paints the workman carrying the tools of his trade at the top of the stairs.

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• Chapter 12 •

Holidays “Doon the Watter” “Gourock, the delightful holiday resort on the Firth of Clyde, the beauty estuary of the Clyde, is the place where red herrings were first cured. Since that time, however, Gourock has developed as a holiday haunt, and now depends solely on its appeal to the holidayer as a pleasure place and admirable centre whence to visit the exquisite scenery of the Clyde Coast”. Birmingham Gazette, Thursday 25th June 1914

Above: Visitor Guide to Gourock

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Above: Advert, 1940

olidays “doon the watter”, were a popular choice for city workers in Glasgow during the 1900s. With its hotels, picture houses, swimming pools, Lunderston Bay and Cragburn Pavilion dance hall all within a relatively short distance from the city, holiday-makers would flock to the resort town in their thousands. Gourock Daily Record and Mail, 19th July 1915 “Never has Gourock been so busy as it was on Saturday. During the day the trains arriving at the station brought large numbers, and the streets of the burgh were crowded with holiday-makers.”

Above: Yorkshire Post, 26th May 1934

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Above: Children Playing at the Paddling Ponds, Gourock

Cragburn Pavilion Jean and Bill Canning

Above: Cragburn Pavilion, 1935 “I don’t know when I have seen a more beautiful little place of entertainment.” Sir Harry Lauder at the Opening Night: Cragburn Pavilion opened to great acclaim on 18th May 1936, beginning a long life as a prominent feature in Gourock and remaining in the memories of all those who visited.

The Art Deco building was praised for its “beauty and adaptability”, providing panoramic views across the river. A memorable feature was the sprung floor made of cherry red birch which could be adjusted to accommodate a large or small number of dancers.

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The opening of Cragburn occurred at the time when Gourock was a bustling holiday town and was praised as the “most up-to-date dance hall on the coast”. On the opening night, hundreds of locals turned out to fill Cragburn to capacity and the town council arranged for Cragburn, the War Memorial and swimming pool to be illuminated from 18th May.

Reaching its height in the post-war revival of ballroom dancing, Cragburn established a reputation for being one of the best dance halls in the West of Scotland. Notable Performers: Henri Morrison and his Swingstars KIT KAT Orchestra (Charles Harkins Band) Sir Harry Lauder The Big Minstrel Show ft The Andrew MacPhersons Singers Benny Garcia and The Riverboat Hotshots STV’s One O’Clock Gang, Charlie Sim and Larry Marshall Dorothy Paul The Clubmen, including local artist George Wylie The Naverons

Gourock’s New Pavilion, The Sunday Post, Sunday 9th June 1935 “‘Gourock has added a new wink to the glad eye of the Clyde,’ was Lord Inverclyde’s happy description of Gourock Town Council’s enterprise in deciding to erect a new £11,000 entertainment pavilion at Cragburn, on the Ashton front. Lord Inverclyde cut the first sod yesterday afternoon on the site where the building is to be erected. He remarked the pavilion was Gourock’s answer to the critics, and, commenting on the competition between the Clyde coast resorts, said it was a healthy competition, because it dominated by good sportsmanship.” During the Second World War, Cragburn Pavilion was used almost every night of the week by local residents, visiting troops, and holiday-makers from Glasgow and further afield. Every summer, the pavilion hosted a summer show which ran from June to September and featured some of the best Scottish entertainment acts. During the war, the performers played a huge part in keeping up the morale of soldiers and civilians alike.

The longest serving band at the pavilion was Charles Harkins and the KIT KAT Orchestra, who entertained dancers from the 1930s until the 1990s. Henri Morrison’s Swingstars, the resident band in Cragburn from the 1940s to the 1960s, were probably the most popular swing band in the area. Henri employed many young local musicians, giving them valuable experience of playing in a big band. It was during this time that the American music scene was beginning to find its way across the Atlantic, and the smaller local bands began to expand in order to play the arrangements of the likes of Glen Miller, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. As the era of dance faded and the pop scene started taking over in the 1960s, the big band scene declined. Cragburn began to be used for every type of show imaginable, from plant shows, dog shows, charity dinners and mother and toddler groups. A short time later, it became clear that the pavilion was no longer financially viable and was eventually closed in the early 1990s.

Daily Record, Tuesday 20th July 1943 “Gourock had its heaviest holiday traffic of the war yesterday. The seafront was crowded with picnic and bathing parties. The majority of the trippers brought food with them. Nevertheless bakers could not cope with the demand for bread and restaurants and tearooms had to close their doors. There were long bus queues in the evening for the return journey to Glasgow.”

Right: The Onyx Dance Band, 1940

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Trapeze Jean Canning

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n the 1950s, two local schoolboys, Bill Canning and George Rennie, decided one day to enlist themselves as students in a correspondence course in acrobatics. With no prior knowledge or experience, the pair soon began performing to and enthralling crowds of holiday makers in Gourock. A few years after beginning their course and still amateurs, they began running their own acrobatics club The Reccanos. They built their own tubular flying trapeze at the back of the prefabs near Bill’s garden, on Tower in Hill in Midton Gourock. Soon after, George had the idea that a trio sounded better than a duo and he talked 15-year-old Pearl Flaherty into joining them.

The three then began performing their spectacular acrobatic act at pool galas, even on a floating raft in the bathing pool under flood lights, where they entertained visitors and locals alike. They also demonstrated their skills at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow’s school boys and girl’s exhibition. As the years went by the trio began to go in different directions. George was keen to pursue acrobatics and so left to go to Switzerland to join a circus. Meanwhile, Bill went off to work in Kincaid’s Drawing Office. The trapeze was eventually dismantled and sadly the trio lost touch as they each got on with life.

Top Left: Pearl, Bill & George Above: Bill & George Performing at the Gourock Swimming Pool Left: George Performing Mid-Air

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Above: The Trio Performing at Gourock Swimming Pool

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Above: Tubular Flying Trapeze

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Lunderston Bay “Tent Toon” Dutch Gable Volunteer Group

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n ideal picnic area by the Clyde overlooking the Cowal hills, Lunderston Bay is bounded to the north by Underheugh burn and to the south by Ardgowan Point, as part of the Shaw Stewart estate. This has been a popular recreation area for many years and during the First World War was used by service personnel recovering from war wounds. At the end of the war it was returned to the local holiday makers and became the Tented Village. During the eight weeks of school holidays, local townspeople would set up home on site, erecting tents of various shapes and sizes and a tight-knit community was formed. A local girl, Ms Mary McClintock Gillespie, spent her childhood holidays at Lunderston Bay’s “Tent Toon” with her parents and siblings. The holiday began with the family preparing for their holiday and packing all of the essentials, including the coal fired cooker, two double beds and a cot for the youngest. She described their family tent as being a cottage tent, measuring 15ft long by 12ft wide and 6ft tall, with clear plastic windows. Her grandfather was a carter and would transport the family and their belongings to the site with his horse and cart. The weekly charges for the use of the camp site were 2/6 (5p) for the church and 1/- (25p) for individuals. On entering the site, holiday makers would be greeted by the warden, a man called Eddie Orr. Next to his office were as many shops as you would find in the centre of a town. There was a butcher, a dairy, the coal-ree, Canata’s ice cream shop, a grocer’s run by a Mr Ward, a chip shop and McAulay’s the bakers. Ben Wales, a shop owner from Greenock High Street, called at the site twice a week selling bacon and ham. “A fisherman called Jock Lee sold his catch around the camp site. We also had a first aider and two medical students, and a large marquee serving as the church on Sundays, with the Rev Francis as minister. This marquee was used by the children during the week if the weather was bad and they had the use of board games there.” The Underheugh Bridge over the burn to the north of the camp was the dividing line for young single males. This was their camp site and the rest of the park to the south was all for family and single girls. Fresh water was sourced from the three burns running through the camp site; this was also the only water supply for washing yourself and your clothing. On a Friday, the menfolk would walk to Ashton for the bus back to Greenock to sign on and collect their brew money, bringing back any supplies requested by fellow camp goers. Entertainment was also a large part of the holiday. The marquee served as the dance hall in the evenings with music supplied by the residents. One band was called ‘The Five Macs’ and Mary’s father played the accordion.

The rest of the band was made up of the drums, the banjo, the dulcimer and the melodeon. Memories of holidays to Lunderston bring back happy memories to those who visited. The only negative aspect that Mary can remember is the toilet facilities; boards with holes cut in them over the open ditch.

Above: Camp for Wounded Soldiers, Lunderston Bay, WWI

Above: A Makeshift Church Set Up in a Tram, 1930s

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• Chapter 13 •

Greenock Baths & Swimming Pools Grace Binnie and Frances Dunlop

The Greenock Floating Swimming Bath

After prolonged deliberation, the Town Council agreed and a limited company was formed to bring the plan to fruition under the direction of Mr McCunn. The novel idea evidently caused ripples across the country as other towns began to show an interest in the Greenock enterprise. The Dundee Courier carried a description of the proposed bath, which, “would be composed of an iron structure consisting of two pontoons... Tied together with girders and angle irons, would be anchored in the bay to the west of Fort Matilda, and access would be obtained to them by an insubmergible ferry-boat worked by means of a handle and wire rail. Between the pontoons would be a large open space... And this space, which would form the area for actual swimming, would be filled with sea water by means of sluices at both ends. The upper part of the floating structure is to be fitted with commodious dressing rooms. The cost of the whole scheme is said to be about £1200”

Many Greenockians of a certain age will remember going to the Battery Baths in their youth. But did you know that the first swimming pool in the area was pretty unique – the Greenock Floating Bath ? The idea that a swimming pool should be built in the town was first introduced in the 1870s, and there was lively debate about where it should be situated. James McCunn, a local shipowner (father of Hamish McCunn, the composer) proposed building a floating swimming pool.

Above: Floating Bath Season Ticket, 1879

Above: Clyde Floating Swimming Bath, Handbill, 1880 Greenock Telegraph, 25th July 1879 “He had thought for a long time on the melancholy fact that with such fine water – with such an abundance of water – so little advantage was taken of it… and he was so strongly impressed with the want of bathing accommodation in Greenock that the thought occurred to him to design this bath. Floating baths were no new thing. They were to be found on the Rhine, Seine, and many other rivers. The idea was to get a floating bath or vessel to ride safely in the tide way, exposed to wind and water, and yet be safe at the same time”

Above: Inside the Clyde Floating Swimming Bath, 1880

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The West End Baths operated until 1941. Five years later the building was bought for £1000 by the Arts Guild, a group of local enthusiasts, for conversion into a theatre. The first production took place in the small Wallace Bennett Theatre and the main auditorium was opened in 1955. The floor of the swimming pool, sloping down to the deep end, was ideal for seating with a good line of sight from all parts of the theatre. The much-loved Arts Guild Theatre closed in 2012, replaced by the Beacon Arts Centre the following year.

The floating bath was built to James McCunn’s design by H. Murrary & Co. of Port Glasgow and launched on 18 July 1879. Slightly smaller than originally planned, the bath measured “94 feet by 33 feet, and is capable of accommodating a hundred swimmers at a time”. It was moored off the Battery Park and was reached not by “insubmergible ferry”, but by a new pier. Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, who owned the land, generously granted access at a nominal rent. The formal inauguration took place with great ceremony on 24th July 1879 in the presence of a large number of local dignitaries. There were toasts and speeches, after which “cake and wine were served to the guests”, while the Rifle Band gave a recital and Scottish swimming champions displayed their “natatory skill” (Greenock Telegraph, 25th July 1879). The Floating Bath had a successful first season before being laid up for the winter, with large numbers enjoying a swim and “temperance refreshments”. The Town Council of Rothesay met to consider following Greenock’s lead. However, the second season was to be its last. On the night of Monday 10th October 1881, the Floating Bath was sunk during a severe gale.

The Battery Baths Proposals were made for another floating pool but these came to nothing. Instead, on the 30th May 1925, a new open-air pool was opened at the Battery Park; funded with public money and not by a private company. From the very beginning it proved popular, particularly during the heatwave of June that year. Special arrangements were made by the Education Authority for primary school pupils to be taken to the Baths during school time to learn to swim. Promptly at the beginning of May the great migration would begin, whatever the weather. Greenock’s unpredictable spring weather is why many people looking back on those days display a love-hate relationship with the Battery Baths. Many of the stories tell of teachers watching from the side, well wrapped up in warm coats and scarves while the children chittered in the freezing water. One boy noticed that there was a girl, a non-swimmer, lying on the bottom at the deep end. He promptly dived down and pulled her to safety. Ignoring his heroics, the teacher shouted “stop that carry on!” Battery Park, formed from the spoil when Fort Matilda railway tunnel was constructed, was a favourite place for families to spend the day in summer. One Battery-goer fondly remembers their time at the baths, “We went on the first Friday in May, whether it was hail, rain or snow – and it was very, very cold. It was freezing! It was really cruel in a way. But they were determined that all the school children should be able to swim... The squeals and the screams! And you huddled yourself in, as if, if you hold your arms over your chest you’ll be warmer. And you had your bathing caps on, so you couldn’t hear anything. At this point I wore National Health glasses and had to take them off, so I couldn’t see or hear! After the lesson you made your way home with your wet hair and bathing costume and you were cold all the way back home. But eventually it paid off, you only went four or five times before the summer holidays, but when we finished I could swim. Once they knew you could swim, when the school holidays came, if you went down to the baths before ten o’clock in the morning you got in for nothing. So a lot of us on our bikes used to go down with our bathing costumes and caps in the towel, and we’d have our ‘chittering bite’, which mainly was a piece of plain bread with jam. You needed the chittering bite when you came out, it was so cold!”

Above: Clyde Floating Swimming Bath, 1880

The West End Baths Meanwhile, a plan was afoot to provide the town with a more conventional swimming pool. The opening of the West End Baths in Campbell Street took place on 25th April 1881, in the presence of a “large and fashionable company”. The ceremony was presided over by Sheriff Smith, chairman of the West End Baths Company, who raised a laugh when he referred to “a certain natural affinity for water in the inhabitant of Greenock”. The Floating Bath was, of course, still operational at that date, and Sheriff Smith in his address pointed out that “there was not the slightest idea in the minds of the directors... Of rivalling any other establishment whatsoever”. Referring to the floating baths, he said that “not only had the establishment their very best wishes, but they of the new baths had the very best and warmest wishes of that company, and of its founder, Mr McCunn” (Glasgow Herald, 26th April 1881).

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Hector McNeil Baths

The notice came as a great surprise to girl bathers when the ban was announced this week. The reason for the restriction the Helensburgh pond master explained last night to ‘The Glasgow Herald,’ is that the towels used by girl bathers were so badly stained by brown leg dye that no amount of washing, it was found, would remove the stain. The pond master denied that any polluting sediment left by the dye in the water was the cause of the ban. No races of sediment have been found at the bottom of the pool. …Mrs Wood, pond mistress at Greenock Corporation’s open-air swimming pool at Battery Park, said that the Greenock pool is not heated and that there had been no trouble. When the girls first came with painted legs the staff inspected them and water was rubbed on the paint. It was found that the paint was waterproof. Mrs Watters, pond mistress at Gourock, said – ‘Gourock is a tidal pool, where the sea washes in and the water is changed twice daily. I have seen no traces of paint in the water here.’” What a picture that conjures up!

In due course the Battery Baths came to the end of their life, to be replaced by the Hector McNeil Memorial Baths, named after the MP for Greenock from 1941 to 1955. The foundation stone was laid by his widow on 9th Oct 1963. The baths were demolished in 2002 after Waterfront Leisure Centre opened. The neighbouring burghs, as they then were, must have shared Greenock’s “natural affinity for water”. They also were provided with bathing establishments from an early date.

Port Glasgow Baths Port Glasgow Baths and Wash house opened on 23rd June 1894, and was paid for by local shipbuilder Joseph Russell, who donated £5,700 towards the building. It served the town well until it closed in 2000 and was completely refurbished.

Gourock Pool Gourock outdoor pool opened in 1909, with heating apparatus being installed in 1969. It is one of only two heated outdoor pools in Scotland. We end with a look back at wartime days, when, among other privations, nylon stockings were impossible to obtain, and young ladies resorted to colouring their legs, with make up if they could get it, or even tea or gravy browning. Often they would draw a line up the back of their legs to look like a seam. This was found to cause problems at swimming pools, as The Glasgow Herald reported, “Ladies with their legs painted to represent stockings not allowed to enter the pond, states a notice which has just been posted at the entrance to Helensburgh open-air swimming pool.

Above: Gourock Swimming Pool During Summer

Above: Children's Open Air Swimming Pool, 1929

Above: Gourock Swimming Ponds

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Above: Gourock Outdoor Swimming Pool

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• Chapter 14 •

Wemyss Bay

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he name Wemyss is steeped in mystery. Although deriving from the Gaelic uamh for cave, as in East Wemyss in Fife, locally there is no sign of any caves. An alternative explanation comes more from legend than from truth. It is said that 200 years ago, an old fisherman named Robert Wemyss lived in a solitary hut on the shore. Three gentlemen who regularly hired his boat during the summer months decided give the place a name. The bay had previously been referred to as “White Week” or “Kelly Bay”. After discussing several names and coming to no agreement, one of them said, “Let’s call it after old Bob.” And so, the place was called Wemyss Bay. Originally part of the Ardgowan Estate, in 1814 the land was given to Wallace of Kelly. At this time, Wemyss Bay had “a beautiful beach gently sloping down to the water's edge, and [was] securely sheltered from the north and east winds by a range of well-wooded heights.” Prior to this, the land, which went on to become Kelly Estate, was the seat of the ancient family Bannatyne. Dating back to the 1400s, the land was granted to James Bannatyne by James III and the family continued to hold the estate for more than 300 years. Due to the location and wonderful natural resources, the village experienced rapid development over the next two centuries. “A considerable extent of the beach to the north of the bay is composed of red sandstone, intermingled with a coarse conglomerate and dykes of trap, but in several places it relaxes into a kind of rough gravel or shingle, which forms a convenient footing for the bather, and affords an easy launching place for small fishing boats, and other kindred craft.”

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Above: Kelly House

Kelly Estate

In 1889 the estate had yet another new owner, this time a ship builder by the name of Alexander Stephen. Demolishing the old mansion, Stephen built a new Kelly House which overlooked the pier and station. A Gothic style mansion with tall chimneys and turrets, the building was destroyed by a fire in 1913, under suspicious circumstances: 6th December 1913, Western Times Mansion Fire: Suffragette Literature Found Near By “Kelly House, Wemyss Bay, Firth of Clyde, was completely gutted by fire yesterday. A quantity of suffragette literature was found near the place. The mansion, which was empty, was one of the finest on the Clyde coast. It is estimated that the damage done will amount to close upon £60,000. A Suffragette message found read: ‘Retaliation for Cat and Mouse Act’.” Whilst blame was placed on Suffragettes, the true cause was never established.

“The coast at this place, and, indeed, along the whole course of the Firth, from Inverkip to Ardrossan, is bounded at a short distance back from the shore with a range of hills, sometimes rising in gentle slopes, and at other times in abrupt rocky precipices, from which can be had a succession of rich and varied views. Advantage has been taken of this conformation of the ground for the building of several fine houses along the coast, such as Skelmorlie Castle, Knock Castle, Routenburn and Fairlie Castle, etc. Among these, Kelly stands pre-eminent as one of the oldest as well as one of the most beautifully situated of them all.” Belonging to the Bannatynes, the original mansion house was destroyed by fire. Mr John Wallace, a West Indian trader acquired the Kelly Estate in 1792. A year later he built a large, white mansion house on the grounds. After his death in 1803, ownership passed to his son Robert Wallace, who lavishly extended both the house and estate. “By him chiefly,” says Crawford, “the place has been formed, not only by his energetic improvements in agriculture, by which he has greatly extended the arable lands, but by extensive plantations of wood, both valuable and ornamental.” By 1846, he had fallen into financial difficulty and was declared bankrupt. Following this, the area was split into two sections; to the west, Mr Charles Wilsone Brown of Glasgow built Castle Wemyss; meanwhile to the east, ownership of Kelly estate transferred to Mr James Scott. In the 1860s, both halves were sold on, the former to Mr Burns, and the latter to Dr James Young. Dr James ‘Paraffin’ Young is known to have entertained Dr Livingstone at Kelly House, and after Livingstone’s death in 1875, built a replica of his African hut in the grounds.

Robert Wallace First MP for Greenock Principal proponent of Penny Post Dr John Young Owner of the first commercial company in the world to refine mineral oil Laid the foundation for the Scottish oil industry Discovered the method of distilling oil from shale Conducted numerous experiments with electric lighting

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Above: Castle Wemyss, Wemyss Bay

Castle Wemyss

The Largs Steamers pass and repass five times a day, touching at the quay each time. Good stabling, lock-up coach-houses, and carriages kept at the hotel for hire. David Cook, Proprietor, returns his most grateful thanks to the many families and other parties, who have been in the habit of visiting his house during the last two years, and respectfully solicits a continuance of their patronage.” Perfectly situated near Glasgow, Wemyss Bay like Gourock, welcomed holiday makers both via train and steamer. Wemyss Bay Hotel did a roaring trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with visitors not only coming to sample the gorgeous scenery, but also to make use of the area’s water supply. As hydropathy clinics sprung up across the country, Wemyss Bay was chosen as the ideal location to open a hydropathic sanatorium:

The house was originally built in 1850 by Mr Charles Brown. Development work on the grounds began soon after and by 1855, the number of villas had been increased from four to thirty-six. Let out to wealthy merchants from Glasgow, the villas earned the nickname ‘Little Glasgow’. The land was sold in 1860 to Mr John Burns. Later to be Lord Inverclyde, Mr Burns drastically altered the castle and its surroundings, enlarging the castle, designing landscaped gardens, and building a pier, conservatories and tennis court. Many notable guests visited the grand castle, including the Commander in Chief of the United States Army, General Sherman, Hailie Selassie the Emperor of Ethiopia, and the Royal Family during a review of the fleet. Sadly, following the death of Lord Inverclyde in 1957, the castle fell into ruins and the land was used in the expansion of the village, developing a housing estate on the land in the late 1990s.

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Wednesday 17th April 1867 Wemyss Bay “We learn that this favourite watering-place has been selected as the seat of a hydropathic sanatorium, and an establishment has been opened here. Being of easy access by rail and steamboat, we have no doubt it will prove an agreeable and convenient retreat for invalids. The enterprise is under the auspices and medical direction of Dr R. Currie.” The sanatorium was the impetus for rail travel and excellent steamer connections to Rothesay and Glasgow up river brought about much of the fortune of Wemyss Bay.

A Holiday Village The Scotsman, Saturday 23rd June 1849 Wemyss Bay Hotel “Wemyss Bay is beautifully situated on the Firth of Clyde between Greenock and Largs, and commands splendid views of the Islands of Bute, Cumbrae, Arran, and surrounding scenery. It is likewise in the immediate vicinity of the romantic Glen of Kelly, formerly the property of Mr Wallce, M.P. The Hotel affords most comfortable accommodation for families and casual visitors, and the beach for bathing is one of the finest on the coast.

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Above: Inside Wemyss Bay Train Station Early 20th Century

Connecting the Village

winding course, it presents many interesting and impressive views. Travelling by the Glasgow and Greenock section of the Caledonian line, after leaving the tunnel at Bishopton, we enter the deep cutting though the Whinstone rock, out of which, on the north side, large spaces have been torn at short intervals, which serve like so many windows in obtaining glimpses of the Clyde, the shipping, and the numerous steamers which ply on its waters… Passing Langbank and Port Glasgow, the new branch, now in progress, diverges at a point about half a mile to the westward, on the south side of the line to Greenock, skirting and ascending the side of the hill… at the south-eastern suburb of Cartsdyke, in consequence of the great elevation it has then attained, the view towards the north and west is on of surpassing interest… Issuing from this deep defile, the mansion house of Ardgowan, the seat of Sir M. R. Shaw Stewart, Bart., M.P. for the county, comes in sight, situated on a rising ground to the northward and overlooking the Firth… It then passed behind the quiet village of Inverkip… and thence by the base of the cliff on the south side of the Wemyss Bay Hotel along the edge of the Kelly property… Here it terminates at a deep-sea pier close of the Ayrshire boundary-line.”

In 1865, the Wemyss Bay Railway Line was opened, connecting the village to Glasgow in just over an hour. The service was advertised as being superior to the line which served Greenock, as all of the carriages contained seats. Prior to the railway being built, the vast majority of public travel from Glasgow to Largs was done by steamboat, which allowed everyone from all levels of society to get around. The journey to Largs took around five hours by steamer, so the development of the railway was greatly appreciated by passengers. The first station built in 1865 was in the Victorian villa-style, which fitted in well with the surrounding merchant homes. However, with the huge popularity of the Clyde coast as a holiday destination, the Caledonian Railway Company planned a considerable extension to the station, and a new double line was opened in 1903. Along with this was the Edwardian station building that we still see today. Catering for the large number of passengers travelling to Wemyss Bay to catch a ferry service to Large, Millport, Arrant, Inellan, Rothesay, and the Kyles of Bute, the new station had an adjoining pier, reached via a walkway of elaborate glazed canopies. The new station became one of the most admired of the Scottish railways. Travellers were delighted not only by the station at the end, but also by the journey itself, as the Greenock Advertiser recounted in 1863, Greenock Advertiser, Tuesday 3rd March 1863 The Wemyss Bay Railway “… The line is now assuming form throughout nearly its entire length, upwards of 400 men altogether being employed; and we understand that the directors have stipulated for the running of carriages in July 1864… When finished, this branch will afford increased facility in reaching the watering places at the coast on both banks of the Clyde. Although a short line, yet by its devious and

Above: Wemyss Bay Station

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• Chapter 15 •

Transport Joseph McGeer and Walter Pollock

Above: Passenger Steamboat at Gourock

U

ntil about 1700 travel within what is now Inverclyde would have been very difficult. Henry Graham described the ‘highways’ of Scotland at the time as: “tracks of mire in wet weather and marshes in winter, till the frost had made them sheets of ice... Even towns were often connected only by pack-roads, over unenclosed land and moorland, where, after rain, it was difficult to trace any beaten track.” Only the wealthy travelled from their home town or village, and then not often, with the easiest form of travel being on the river. Overland travel was difficult, slow, uncomfortable and dangerous. The towns of Inverclyde were small and relatively isolated from each other, for example, the Scottish Reformation of 1560 closed the chapels in the parish of Greenock. The parish church was over 6 miles away in Inverkip, over a difficult route which was impassable in winter. There is no record of a substantial bridge in Inverclyde before 1600 which meant the burns around Greenock in particular, such as Jardines, Westburn, Dellingburn and the Cartsburn, were crossed by getting your feet wet at fords or using makeshift bridges. Indeed, the ‘bridge’ across the Cartsburn was at one point a discarded rudder from a ship. The Cartsburn and Dellingburn had been a particular problem since

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before 1707. The only small harbour in the area was in Cartsdyke, then a separate village from Greenock. Nevertheless, Cartsdyke was the point of departure for most of the Scottish fleet on the ill-fated Darien expedition. The Act of Union in 1707 opened up large markets for Scottish traders, and added impetus to the need for better roads. The building of relatively large harbours in Port Glasgow in 1668-1688, and Greenock in 1707, enhanced a need for better roads to transport goods by land, particularly to Glasgow. The Turnpike Act of 1745 led to a large programme of road building funded by tolls. In Inverclyde, it ran into Port Glasgow from Renfrew, and onwards along the coast, through Cathcart St, along Union St, and ending at the tollhouse at the junction of Union St and Eldon St. The Turnpike had a good (not tarmac) surface and, at a cost, enabled a relatively quick, dry journey with bridges or culverts at the burns. In the 19th century, Greenock and Port Glasgow expanded very rapidly due to the growth of many local industries, most notably shipbuilding. This necessitated easier and faster ways to transport goods and people. Roads had improved but the geography of Inverclyde still meant long distances for the size of its population. The first public ‘buses’ began to appear around 1806,


with a coach running four times a day between the Old Tontine Hotel in Greenock to the Quayhead in Port Glasgow. These services grew steadily between 1800 and 1850, however they remained slow and expensive. In 1873 a horse drawn tramway was constructed running from Ashton in Gourock to Greenock, with an extension to Blackstone in Port Glasgow added in 1889. The trams linked all of the new harbours, shipyards and other industries established along the shoreline of Inverclyde, as well as the three town centres. The line was electrified in 1901. As most people lived near the shore, the importance of the trams was enhanced in 1903 when cheap fares and special trams were introduced for shipyard and factory workers. In 1929, the trams ceased to operate due to problems related to the economic depression, lack of investment and the increased use of vehicles with internal combustion engines. In the 1880s, Bob Lucas and Walter Pollock ran a horse drawn bus service between Port Glasgow and Greenock which ceased with the arrival of the trams. In 1925 the partnership started the first timetabled motor bus service between Port Glasgow, Greenock, Langbank and Kilmacolm. In May 1929, Greenock & Port Glasgow Tramways bought out the company. On 15th July 1929, the last tram ran, and the Tramway Co. became Greenock Motor Services. Dunlop’s Motor Services of Holmscroft Street was absorbed into Western S.M.T in 1949 then by 1952 Greenock Motor Services became Western S.M.T.

Bank, next to Cardwell Bay, to create the Battery Park. The rise of Rothesay as a tourist destination and for holiday homes for the wealthy, precipitated the building of the line to Wemyss Bay. The branch line ran from just outside Port Glasgow station to the pier in Wemyss Bay. The rival Glasgow & South Western Railway constructed a line from Glasgow’s St Enoch station through Paisley, Bridge of Weir and Kilmacolm to Albert Harbour Station in 1869 which was renamed Princes Pier 1875, rebuilt in 1893 and officially opened in May 1894. The railways facilitated a very large increase in trade to, and within, Inverclyde, especially to the docks and quays, often for the coaling of ships. Some rail lines can still be seen at James Watt dock, Arthur St, Victoria Harbour and inside the Sugar Sheds.

Above: Train Stopped at Greenock The Beeching report (1965) resulted in the closure of the line to Princes Pier and the subsequent construction of the container terminal on the Prices Pier site. The transfer of the remaining sea going dock trade, and the closure of the shipyards, resulted in very limited use of the remaining docks. Most have been filled in leaving only the Victoria Harbour and the James Watt Dock. The latter is experiencing a partial revival partly due its use by leisure craft. The large drydock at Inchgreen is largely unused but the renaissance of Fergusonʼs shipyard may transform its fortunes. Local river traffic for goods and passengers was significant in and around Inverclyde. At the beginning of the 18th century the Clyde was a “small shallow meandering stream” only navigable by scows or cobles of 20-30 tons burthen. Passenger traffic was by river or stagecoach and the starting point was the White Hart hotel (1770) at 50 Cathcart St. By the 19th century a major feature of river transport was (largely) leisure traffic going “doon the watter” in the ‘Steamers’. At its height in the 1890s there were over 300 steamers on the Clyde. They catered for day trips, the annual ‘fair’ holidays and wealthy commuters who lived in small villages like Kilgreggan, Innellan and Blairmore. Today only the paddle steamer Waverley remains running seasonal cruises. The local commercial traffic based on the Clyde mostly consisted of small craft know as puffers which carried general cargo around the Clyde and to the

Above: Horse-Drawn Tram on Port Glasgow Road, Greenock The first railway in Inverclyde was constructed by Caledonian Railway in 1841 from Glasgow to a terminus facing on to Cathcart St. In 1889, at considerable expense, the line was extended to Gourock. During that time a timetabled charabanc ran along the turnpike from Gourock to Cathcart St to link with the new station. The extension created the longest rail tunnel in Scotland under Newton St and the spoil was used to fill in the March

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islands off the west coast of Scotland. Some could even be beached to deliver and collect cargo to isolated communities. The building of good roads in Argyll enabled lorries to provide a much cheaper, quicker and reliable service for goods. Only a few puffers remain as museum pieces or ‘heritage’ vessels. Current passenger and vehicle river traffic based in Inverclyde consists of two roll-on/roll-off ferries, McInroy’s Point to Dunoon; Wemyss Bay to Rothesay and two passenger only ferries from Gourock to Dunoon and Kilcreggan. The changes to transport in Inverclyde have been predominantly the result of technological advances and increasing wealth. Most recently this has been mainly the car. The construction of a motorway/dual

carriageway from Glasgow to Greenock is the best illustration of this. Ironically, part of this road runs over filled-in docks in Port Glasgow. The decline of industry, notably heavy engineering, and the arrival of cheap foreign holidays have also contributed to the change. A few small recent developments can be seen such as the creation of cycle paths, park and ride facilities and the emergence of marina businesses. The increase in the number of cruise ship visits has resulted in the expansion of dock facilities to accommodate them. These are relatively small developments which either sustain or enhance the existing transport infrastructure. Further change is inevitable – but what?

Above: Greenock & Port Glasgow Tramway Company

Above: Pioneer Motorbus, Port Glasgow Motor Co. 1925 74


credits Graphic Designer: Megan McGurk Researchers & Editors: Niall Ptolomey & Christie Laing Project Coordinator: Kay Clark

The photographs, excerpts, illustrations and images used in the book have been used in the book have been reproduced with the permission of various organisations and with permission from the volunteer group.

Articles

Photos, Images & Illustrations

Foreword Shaun Lundy Introduction Christie Laing The Story of Greenock’s Water Supply Alexander Hardie, John McQuarrie and the Dutch Gable Volunteer Group Early Water Systems, Greenock and Port Glasgow Hugh McIntyre James Watt College in William Street, Greenock Joseph McGeer The Vennel Niall Ptolomey & Christie Laing The Tale of the Seven Stowaways Niall Ptolomey The Gaels of Greenock Frances Dunlop Fort Matilda and Princes Pier Dutch Gable Volunteer Group Stanley Spencer Christie Laing Three Ancient Monuments and One’s Cruel Fate John Smith The Glen, Port Glasgow Hugh McIntyre Holidays “Doon the Watter” Christie Laing Cragburn Pavilion Jean & Bill Canning Trapeze Jean Canning Lunderston Bay Tent Town Dutch Gable Volunteer Group Greenock Baths & Swimming Pools Grace Binnie & Frances Dunlop Wemyss Bay Christie Laing Transport Joe McGeer & Walter Pollock

Newspaper transcripts © The British Library Board. All Rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (www.BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk)

Photographic images used under license from: SCRAN – www.scran.ac.uk McLean Museum Tate Gallery National Library of Scotland Historic Environment Scotland Glasgow Museums The British Library Watt Library Greenock RCAHMS Methven, C.W (1886) Sketches reproduced from Sketches of Greenock and its Harbours Getty Images The Greenock Telegraph

Volunteers

Grace Binnie June Campbell Jean Canning John Currie Frances Dunlop Alexander Hardie Joseph McGeer Hugh McIntyre John McQuarrie Walter Pollock John Smith Ann Williams

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Heritage Tales From The Waters Edge  

Water has brought about the development of Inverclyde, from its small beginnings as a collection of small fishing communities, to an indus...

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