On the Sunday of the recent Open Doors Weekend I decided to go to Govan. It's a place I've cycled through many times in the past thirty years but only really touched the margins as it's part of a favourite cycle tour from my house taking in Bells Bridge over the Clyde, then the green and leafy Festival Park, then Bellahouston and Pollok Parks, returning via the White Cart Water beside Leverndale Hospital then Renfrew and the passenger/ bike ferry back to Anniesland. This is mainly a linking corridor of pleasant green spaces running through the heart of the inner city but I was aware of the changes happening in Govan as I cycled past. These new flats certainly caught my eye. You cant help but be cheered up by these. Brilliant example of new architecture, from the outside at least.
Elder Park is also a favourite on the bike as it is a tree filled wide expanse of around 30 acres in an otherwise heavily built up, industrialised area. This large square park was donated to the surrounding community by Mrs Isabella Elder, the wife of Fairfield's Shipbuilding colossus and entrepreneur John Elder. Like a lot of dedicated Victorian industrialists and technical innovators he probably worked himself to death as he died at a mere 45 years of age. His wife outlived him by many decades but sadly she died just before this sculpture above was unveiled. Although not an official title she was often referred to as 'Lady Elder' by the local community. The park was a monument to her husband and her vision in buying the land for the community created this green oasis for locals to enjoy and is a lasting legacy to this day along with the adjacent Elder Public Library which she also funded and insisted it be kept open on Sundays for the workers at the nearby shipyards to use on their day off. Education was seen as a desirable gift to bestow on every class in society to improve their abilities and thinking although not everyone wanted to read books and newspapers during these precious few hours of free time. After her husbands death she used her substantial wealth and influence to support a range of charitable causes and was well liked in the area.
Under her husband's guidance Fairfield's grew to be the largest and most successful shipbuilders on the River Clyde employing 9,000 workers by the early 1900's.
Well worth a look in here at the various sections and the list of ships they launched. Govan has so much history attached to it there is no way an outsider like myself can cover it properly so I'm going to use links to cut down on my own typing.
A view of the new Riverside Museum and the Tall Ship, The Glenlee, from Govan. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a large free car park and a riverfront walkway here not far from Govan underground station on the main street. After the decline of the shipyards and heavy industry this area suffered decades of stagnation, crime and neglect with high levels of unemployment. It was not an obvious place to visit on the tourist radar. However, with the opposite bank containing museums, the newly opened Hydro concert venue, Glasgow Harbour, and a ferry link across the Clyde to Govan, a stones throw away, it is reinventing itself as a worthwhile addition to the tourist trail.
It's history is second to none as it was the religious capital of Strathclyde at a time when the neighbouring City of Glasgow was just a sea of grass and two cows wondering when St Mungo would arrive. Indeed, Govan is one of the oldest Christian settlements anywhere in Scotland and has many fine relics left behind by visiting kings, Viking warlords and the great and good of the ancient world for which it was an important centre, easily reached by sea. It has been argued that Glasgow's founder, St Mungo only settled in his 'dear green place' because it was near Govan and he was a new kid on the block hoping to steal some of the action with his fancy stall set up on the margins of an already established religious powerhouse. Above is Govan Old Church which has some magnificent examples of stained glass in its windows.
Just one of many panels.
The Vikings left behind these Hogback Grave Markers which would only be used for people of high rank or importance in Viking society. The Vikings were not only raiders to these shores but settled and traded here as well if they found a place to there liking where they could make money and buy and sell commodities Europe wide due to their sailing skills and knowledge of foreign ports and harbours.
The popular programme 'Time Team' carried out an archaeological 'dig' in this area surrounding the church and adjacent riverfront.
Clyde Hydro. First official' big name act' was a concert by Rod Stewart who opened it a week ago. The outside is transparent and lights up with a range of coloured displays at night. Doubt I'll be in it though except during a future Open Doors Day. £60 quid a ticket is way too much for me.
The old Lyceum cinema in the middle of Govan main street has been closed for years but it still retains these wonderful giant billboards either side of the entrance. I thought I'd capture them on here for posterity in case they don't make it if the building disappears in the future.
"Hey! Watch what yer doing wi that big pole Son! You nearly had ma bunnet aff there!"
What looks like an original promotion billboard for the wonders of 1960's 3D effects. 'The Lyceum' was of course the classical school run by Aristotle in Ancient Greece hence its modern pertinence for schools, cinemas, and places where they hope the public will be entertained and educated.
The only time I was in the Lyceum cinema myself was as a young teenager to see 'Carry on Camping.'with my mates from Nitshill. That was the nearest we got to porn when I was a fourteen year old. It was considered brave and risqué then I'll have you know. Changed days now with animal sex, gangbangs, celebrity fake porn, incest porn, simulated multiple rapes and anything else you can imagine at the click of a button on every twelve year olds smart phone world wide. No questions asked. It doesn't take a genius to work out what kind of problems that's going to store up for society in the future but as usual we start to bolt the door on it ten years after the horse has galloped away over the hill with Lady Godiva, or in my young case, Barbara Windsor.
Brave and risqué because most of Govan in the late 1960s /early 1970s was a rough place full of packed rows of red sandstone tenements three and four stories high. A land of heavy drinkers, hard people and grim deeds. It was also packed with rough notorious gangs and sure enough we were chased all the way back to Pollok by the Govan team. We were then chased by a notorious and violent Pollok gang called the Bundy who chased us all the way from the main Pollok roundabout to their border with Priesthill. The equally notorious Priesthill Run-a- Mock Squad then took charge of the last leg of the 'try to hit the outsiders with chains, axes, and sticks' relay. No wonder children today are becoming obese. We had to work really hard for the merest glimpse of a nipple or bare breast. Funnily enough I never returned to Govan for further cinematic treats of bras flying through the air. It just wasn't worth it. Not for Barbara Windsor anyway.
A photograph of a mural on the wall of a closed down public building in Govan.( I think it was an old 1960s style school but it didn't have a name on it) If this was taken from the fertile mind of a young child I'd be tempted to get the social workers in. Unhappy Bunny- Bad old uncle perhaps? Each generation has to face its own particular set of demons growing up. Nothing new there.
"Play with the funny sausage, there's a good wee boy." "No."
Fairfield Shipyards. The office entrance.
Inside they have just refurbished the office space and are looking to let out these light airy offices to anyone interested in obtaining the use of one on a commercial basis. This was part of the Open Doors day Tour.
The Underground is a short five minute walk away and a large bus terminus to all parts of the city is even closer so it has good commuter links.
This was how I arrived, on the newly refurbished underground from Partick. Never seen it looking so clean, ready for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 no doubt. You could eat your dinner off the floor!
A sculpture of G.I. Bride. A cartoon strip by Bud Neill, popular in the newspapers of Scotland years ago during the 1950s about the exploits of the fictional sheriff of Calton Creek and his faithful two legged horse. Slightly before my time this but still remembered with great affection by an older generation. It was largely inspired by the author watching American westerns as a child in the cinema then transporting this landscape to Scotland in his imagination. There is also a statue of another of his creations, his trusty two legged galloper, complete with the sheriff and his arch enemy Rank Bajin sitting on top. Trying to rub the nose off the poor wee horse for luck seems a popular pastime these days as it's usually highly polished. This statue above can be found inside Partick Underground. The other is on Woodlands Road near Charing Cross just across from a well known pub.
Once inside this link click on 'cast' to see the various characters involved. Glasgow has always had a fascination with westerns and all things American, be it music, culture, or cinema as many of its citizens either emigrated, returned or lived there at some point.
Govan cross. Sunday morning.
The new look Govan.
War Memorial on Main Street.
For the last two years I have been writing a book which is part autobiography, part novel, part travel guide and part unusual love story. It is set in Glasgow, Pollok, where I grew up, then expands to take in Arrochar, Loch Lomond, Glencoe and many other scenic parts of Scotland. It is written as a tongue in cheek comedy about a Glasgow hillwalking club and their relationships, love affairs (or lack of them) falling outs, and adventures on weekends away. Think Oor Wullie, the Broons, Para Handy with a dash of Gregory's Girl and that's what I was aiming for. Whether it's any good or not I'll leave that to the reader to decide. All the chapters are illustrated with colour photographs like the one above to give readers an idea of the places and situations I'm describing. (56 in total)
The first few chapters can be viewed for free in this link to see if you like it and the entire book is only 98 pence to download. Cheaper than a scratch card and more chance of a laugh. Cheers everyone.
Update. I have just completed my second book on kindle which is a walking and cycling guide to the River Clyde and the Firth of Clyde, including most of the towns and major villages along its banks, the City of Glasgow and the holiday islands of Bute, Arran, and Great Cumbrae. Part brief history, part modern tour guide down the river from the city centre to Girvan and out past Ailsa Craig it is fully illustrated throughout with 146 original colour photographs and describes over 80 walks and cycle rides from a few easy flat hours in urban districts to day long adventures in remote countryside.
Suitable for both walking and cycling beginners or experienced veterans, many of the routes are little known and have not appeared in other guide books....so far.
At £1:99 from kindle bookstore this may make an ideal Christmas present for anyone who has lived in the Glasgow, Paisley, Firth of Clyde District or is keen to explore Glasgow and the River Clyde's walking and cycling potential.
Link here to see the kindle sample.