The legendary Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2 on the Hudson River in New York City, October 16, 2008, as she departs for the final time.



17 February, 2010

Clydebank Redevelopment

Rendering of the fitting out basin courtesy of http://www.clydebankrebuilt.co.uk/

What is missing from this rendering of proposed redevelopment of the former John Brown Shipyard?  Could it be that there is absolutely no reference to the proud shipbuilding heritage of this site?  Even the arctitecture is pretty nondiscript and could be seen just about anywhere in Europe.  This is the fitting out basin, where many famous ships were completed such as the HMS Hood, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth 2, and the royal yacht Britiannia.  All that remains of the once great John Brown Shipyard is the Titan Crane, now fully restored and open as a tourist attraction, and this fitting out basin.  The slipway is gone, replaced with a community college, but the guides still remain at the waters edge and the designers have outlined the location of the slipway in the treatment of landscaping.


Queen Elizabeth 2, on her launching day, September 20, 1967, being towed into the fitting out basin with the Titan Crane at her bow.

While on QE2's Farewell to the UK cruise, we stopped in Greenock and took an excursion dubbed the "Cunard Heritage Trail", which included a motorcoach ride along the Clyde from Greenock to the Transport museum in Glasgow, followed up with a visit to the former John Brown Shipyard and the restored Titan Crane.  What immediately struck me was the beauty of the Clyde at Clydebank, in particular, but nothing prepared me for the utter destruction I saw of the shipyard.  Nothing remains of the buildings but piles of rubble and steel columns cut off at their bases.  We stood along the fitting out basin after our tour of the Titan Crane and even sat on the bollards that the great ships constructed here were moored to in the basin.  The tour guide even pointed out the modification to the pier, done in brick, to accommodate the first two Queens in the basin.  The basin sits empty, unused, and probably with the public not appreciating the significance of the site.

The Farewell to the UK cruise allowed people of the UK to see their beloved ship, QE2,  for the final time before the ship would leave for a future in Dubai as a floating hotel.   It was also at this time that the financial crisis was hitting and many of us onboard were concerned whether the plans for an extensive conversion to a upscale hotel in Dubai would be affected by this financial crisis.  This concern proved entirely justified as now Dubai is broke, having borrowed heavily to fund their massive build up and buying spree, which included QE2 among other properties.  Reports of massive selloff of assets are in the news now and QE2 always is speculated to be a potential asset to be sold off in the news reporting.  Perhaps the global recession will yield a silver lining; the potential that QE2 could be aquired in this asset selloff and return to her rightful home!  

I know the perfect place for her; the fitting out basin in Clydebank.  QE2 could be the key to revitalizing the waterfront, with some modifications of the long range redevelopment plans that are in place.  She could be operated as a hotel and conference center, perhaps with a museum built alongside of the heritage of the Clyde shipbuilding industry.  She would be THE tourist draw for the area.  I see small excursion boats running from Glasgow to Clydebank and from cruise ships docking in Greenock running up to Clydebank.  Bringing her home also has a few advantages for the ship itself.  No extensive air conditioning modifications would be necessary with the local climate.  She could essentially be opened up "as-is" and run for the time being while tasteful modifications are contemplated to insure her long term financial success.

Sure there are some potential issues to overcome, such as the clearance under the Erskine Bridge, which was built after QE2's launch and does not have the required clearance.  Her funnel and foremast would have to be temporarily removed to clear the bridge.  Then there is the depth of the channel to overcome, but these are all issues that can be overcome, providing there is a will to make it happen.  For this to happen, even if the ship remains owned by Dubaiworld and relocated here, the government probably needs to get more involved.  There is a precident for government intervention here.  The original Queens were partially financed by the government and Queen Mary was untertaken to put workers of the Great Depression back to work.  QE2 also received government financing.  Another idea would see the Soverign Queen Elizabeth II purchase her, bring her back to Clydebank, and have the ship included as one of her historic properties.

As has been reported, QE2's owners are considering and evaluating all their options for their prized posession.  Hopefully, the scenario I have outlined is at least being considered.  More importantly, hopefully local officials are in contact with Dubaiworld for a potential return to Scotland of QE2.  Stay tuned for further blog updates with some updated fitting out basin renderings that are in the works!





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