Graving Docks, Govan
‘A silent anchor to Govan’s industrial memories’. Reverberating to a different place and time, what remains of these great docks and relics from the shipbuilding era, stand ominously abandoned. Still spared from the hands of developers ( i suspect through economic conditions and inaction), nature has taken hold, and a vast expansive wilderness, remains fragile and disconnected from the city and the river to which it belongs. (since originally writing this it has been stripped bare, a sign perhaps that an environmental asset could be a hindrance to development ) The City Development plan intends the land to be used for approx 800 homes most of which are owner occupied, which would seem to correlate with the high density of Glasgow Harbour on the other side of the river, and risks seriously over developing the site, offering little to the existing community in Govan not least to mention further removal of Govan’s cultural heritage in the wake of the cranes being removed from Govan’s skyline. An appropriate form of housing may well be a welcome addition to the area and encourage a high quality, and imaginative environment, however despite being in private ownership, there is room for more than purely housing on this site; its strategic riverside location is ideal for Govan and the wider city to enjoy. Somewhere for Glasgow to be proud of and that allows the city to breathe. Hopefully sense will prevail and a huge asset to the city in terms of heritage, open space and potential for expanding on community facilities and creative regeneration in Govan will be recognised. I can imagine an urban park, a gateway into Govan, an imaginative and creative open public space that connects the city to nature and to its past, opening up the area to new vistas, encouraging new activity and an environment that reinterprets heritage with water side development, new lighting, landscape and public art. The creative activity, networking and collaboration between individuals, grassroot organisations, and development agencies has created rich dialogue re development proposals, and to me it would be a great testament to Glasgow and Govan’s industrial legacy if the land provides a stage and platform for creative activity to harness ideas in collaboration with required needs within the community. There’s something very special about this place; questions need to be asked over what is appropriate for its future. The neglect and lack of maintenance that its current situation presents is not purely remedied by building houses alone. Its tranquility is part of its attraction – at odds with a heavy industrial past and yet disheartening as this space should not lie vacant and unsafe. Glasgow deserves more. As an integral symbol of the industrial grounds on which the city grew, its people should be able to connect with and enjoy this place, have a voice in its future and trust that the city will act in their interests. A new central and accessible landscape to confront the past and look forward would be a brave and tremendous insertion into the city. I’ve included a few lyrics from a song called Charlie Darwin by The Low Anthem that resonates to me with this place.
‘Set the sails I feel the winds a’ stirring
Toward the bright horizon set the way
Cast your reckless dreams upon our mayflower
A haven from the world and her decay’ – (The Low Anthem)