Govan’s regeneration – protest, riches, collaboration, & gloriousness

It’s been an eventful time for Govan recently. A public vote in May secured the Civic Pride Award for best neighborhood at the Scottish Design Awards, recognizing the strong sense of community and recent activity by local organisations that have helped shape new directions and visions in the area. Local activism has a strong history in Govan and it has been great to have been involved in the last year with many talented and committed people working towards encouraging a brighter future for Govan. Govan has physically and socially started to mend itself but urgently needs continued investment to provide jobs and alleviate poverty. The coming together of many different groups and individuals, artists, architects, historians, community representatives, and other organisations have added to the dialogue and paved the way for Govan’s current and ongoing regeneration.

Govan’s relationship to the River Clyde has been an integral part of its story from its early beginnings as a crossing point across the Clyde to its rise to industrial shipbuilding centre. I wrote about the creative practice of artists Matt Baker and t s Beall in a review of their ‘Nothing About Us Without Us is For Us‘  contribution to the Glasgow International Festival, that used the metaphor of ‘communication’ to celebrate Govan’s place in the city and beyond [link to article]. Sculptures by the artists were unveiled along the water’s edge and through the Riverside housing estate that celebrate the significance of the locations proximity to the Clyde, its surrounding land, and heritage. These public artworks tells stories of attachment, place and memory, referencing through form, fable, and facts the powerful ingredients that helped shape this pivotal settlement in Glasgow’s development.

These creative practices and much of the grassroots activity in Govan have engaged with the local people to gather stories, and regain a sense of attachment to the land, the river, and its rich history. Creative mapping of the area has strengthened partnerships within the area, informing development processes for the public realm and the community.

‘A  new chance for Govan,
Where is Govan going?
A safer, better, greater, Govan,
What do you want from Govan?
Our Govan.’

It is ironic that as various initiatives to improve Govan, from housing projects, improvements to the High Street, and potential for a new found confidence to emerge in Govan get underway, that opinion was so divided for proposals to develop Water Row, the route from Govan Cross to the river crossing. This land is rich, and beneath a tarmac carpark lay a tale steeped in wonder, and industrial prowess. My article in Urban Realm magazine highlights the significance of Water Row’s future, in light of its incredible medieval and industrial past, as new ideas begin to form. [link to article] Matt Baker’s blog Sacrificial Materials and on Senchus-the blog of historian Dr Tim Clarkson ( Blog post and article written in 2012 and has had minor amendments – landscape of development and proposals have changed significantly in time since article was written )

Riverside museum on North bank of River and potential for crossing to bring benefits to the many cultural and community assets in Govan.

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