Tuesday 9 December 2014

Reflecting Pool, Govan

Yesterday's post about the wet dock was a little accidental - I'd been meaning to use the (water-filled) dry dock as a reflecting pool for the Science Tower at sunset. Fortunately I'd given myself enough time to shoot around the wet dock before the sun went all the way down. These are the pictures I'd actually gone there for. Some cloud in the sky would've been nice, but it was almost completely empty. Ah well, can't fight nature. Not very successfully.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Govan Fitting-Out Basin

Just downstream of the dry docks at Govan is a wet dock which was used as a fitting-out basin. (New ships would be constructed in a dry dock until they were complete enough to be launched; other work on the ship, such as interior fittings, could then be done in a wet dock).

Whilst I've been photographing around the dry docks over the last few weeks I've not been paying much attention to the area around the wet dock. But when I went down there on Friday evening, contractors had almost completed clearing all the trees from the wet dock area. And immediately I regretted not having put more effort into documenting that part of the site.

So this is just a splurge of the photos that I have taken of the wet dock area without a whole lot of commentary.

Mid-November 2014: lots of vegetation around the wet dock basin.

Remains of buildings

More building remains.

This used to be a fording point of the river; Highlanders would bring their cattle down the droving roads and cross the Clyde here to come ashore at Govan for market.

Cobbles over the old drovers road route; trees starting to be cleared.

Trees cleared at the fording point.

The wet dock with all trees cleared.

Looking in to the wet dock from the entrance, downstream side.

Monday 1 December 2014


I've been back to the Govan Graving Docks a few times over the last couple of weeks. Really such a fascinating place.

More changes are happening at the west end of the site with lots of trees being cleared earlier this week along the side of the wet dock and along the river bank between the wet dock and the pump house. I do wonder if bigger changes are imminent; I do worry that the site might disappear under a construction boot in the near future.

Anyway, I'll try to do a few small, themed posts over the next few days. This one - some of the rusted "street furniture" at the gate to the docks; discharge pumps and scuttle valves. Presumably the controls for pumping the water out of, and allowing the water to flood back into, the dry docks.

Why, you might legitimately ask, am I documenting such boring stuff? Partly because it's outside my everyday experience and so is fascinating to me, and partly because I don't see anyone else documenting it. Feel free to not look :-)

Sunday 16 November 2014

Govan Graving Docks

Such a beautiful bit of Victorian industrial dereliction!

In the distant past, a drovers road came to the river at Govan; Highlanders could bring their cattle south to market and ford the River Clyde here to come up on the south shore where the current entrance to the docks can be found.
The graving docks at Govan were built in the 1860s and 70s and were in use for over a hundred years, up until the late 1980s. Just before I moved to Glasgow.
Then the site was abandoned, the buildings were abandoned and burnt out, and large numbers of beer cans began to accumulate. And wildlife, plants and animals, began to move in.

Although I'd walked past the site many times, I'd never been in. The pointy-topped steel fence wasn't very welcoming.

Then earlier this year JCBs and tractors and dump trucks appeared and people started to remove much of the vegetation and the accumulated junk.

I'd assumed that this was either because the often-talked about development of the site was starting, or it was part of a general tidy-up of the city before the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It may have been to make sure no rare species of flora or fauna could block any future developments.

So in summer I took my first quick look around and I was rather surprised at how much I loved the place. Both as an industrial landscape and as a place where nature is trying to reclaim the land and the water and the air.

This morning I went back and - perhaps helped by it being a beautiful autumn day - found I was really quite moved by the place. I don't know how long the site has before it disappears under the developer's concrete, but I do feel an urge to document what is there now in my own way. As a start, here are a few of today's pictures.

Wren on an old iron mooring bollard

Towards the Science Centre from the graving docks

Water height, in feet

Ferns growing through the street furniture near the pump house

The pump house and Dock 1

Dock 2 and some autumnal colour

Rusting iron fittings

Rotting walkway over the entrance to Dock 3

Walkway over the gate to Dock 3

Iron capstan and Science Tower

Iron ring, Dock 1, and the pump house

The pump house

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Friday 16 May 2014

Beltane Fire Festival

On May-day eve (sometimes known as 30th April!) a couple of good friends from Milwaukee and I went through to Edinburgh for the annual Beltane Fire Festival on Calton Hill.

It was windy and rainy. And ever so cold. That was my opinion with plenty of layers of clothes on. Those participants who were practically naked seemed to be enjoying themselves far more than the weather should have allowed.

I understand (I have no facts!) there were about 25,000 there.

A small number seemed to be there for the pagan aspects of the night.

A very small group of drunken Irish lads seemed to be there for the naked boobs; and perhaps to let everyone know what loud voices they have.

Most just seemed to be there for the spectacle and to have a good time.

Although we were ready to leave after 4 hours in the cold and rain, it was mostly a good time. Definitely a spectacle.