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

08 April, 2010

Clydebank Rebuilt

This is the former Fitting Out Basin of the John Brown Shipyard.  In the background are mounds of  building demolition debris and the newly built Clydebank College.  This is the site where the great ocean liners Lusitania, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Elizabeth 2 were completed as well as many naval warships such as the HMS Hood.  Sadly, QE2 would end up being the last passenger ship built in Scotland, the "Pride of the Clyde."  The John Brown Shipyard, in a last ditched effort to stay afloat during the construction of QE2, merged with other yards on the Clyde into Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS).  UCS was later aquired by Trafalgar House , one time owners of QE2, then later acquired by Marathon Oil for oil rig repairing, which saw this industry declining on the North Sea and finally closed its doors for good in 2001.  The site was later completely demolished, save for the Titan Crane, which has been restored and is now open as a unique tourist attraction.

The Titan Crane is the only "A Listed" historic structure in all of Clydebank and stands silently as the sole reminder of the vast shipyard that once existed on this site.  Standing 150 feet tall, and with a 240 foot length of the cantilever, the crane was capable of lifting an astounding 200 tons.  The great gun turrets of the HMS Hood were lifted in place with this crane.  During World War II, Clydebank was targeted by the Germans due to the strategic importance of the shipyards.  Clydebank was the most heavily bombed city in all of Scotland during the war, but miraculously, the Titan Crane was never hit.  Fully restored and open now to the public via a new elevator, the views of the Clyde are breathtaking.

This view, looking down the Clyde towards the Erskine Bridge, shows both the beauty of the Clyde and the devastating remains of the building demolition of the site.  Clydebank Rebuilt has a master plan in place, covering redevelopment of the Clyde.  This short video offers a glimpse of the future for the area.  This video gives a glimpse of the past. For added context, this excellent series of videos document employment in Clydebank, the decline of shipbuilding, and the social changes.

Recently, a new mixed income housing development opened, but vast areas lay open.  Three minutes into the first linked video above, there is a view of the Fitting Out Basin as seen from the Clyde.  What I see missing from that view is the last great ship built on the Clyde and fitted out in that very basin, Queen Elizabeth 2.  Could she return?  There are obstacles such as the Erskine Bridge, which would require temporary removal of her Funnel and Forward Mast.  She could be THE centerpiece for redevelopment of the area.  Here is a Google Earth flyover of the area, which was obviouly taken before all of the buildings were demolished or the new College built.

Currently, QE2 sits in Dubai, fortunately being well cared for, while her ultimate fate is unknown.  Bring the Queen back home!

1 comment:

  1. It is a breath of fresh air to see the rebirth of this area with the focal point being the magnificent Titan Crane.Onwards and upwards to Clydebank Rebuilt