Graving Docks, Govan

Black and White Photograph of Govan Graving Docks

‘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, lie abandoned and detached from the city; economic conditions and inaction have until recently spared it from development. Nature has taken hold, and a vast expansive wilderness, remains fragile and disconnected from the city and the river to which it belongs. The City Development plan intends the land to be used for housing. It is clear this land can offer far more than housing alone – a new urban park; a place to reflect and experience nature, to dream of past memories that shaped a city and what now should be. Fortunatley a proposal for 700-800 owner occupied homes, has been rejected, 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 its skyline. An appropriate and inclusive form of housing may well be a welcome and needed addition to the area to enable existing and new residents to the area to take ownership of new visions for the area, however despite being in private ownership, there is room for imagination here; 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 imagine an urban park, a gateway into Govan, a creative open public space that connects the city to the Clyde and the story from which the city grew, opening up the area to new vistas, encouraging activity, waterside recreation, and an environment that reinterprets heritage with new development, lighting, landscape and public art. The creative activity, networking and collaboration between individuals, grassroot organisations, and development agencies has created rich dialogue for proposals, and 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 the community. There’s something very special about this place; questions need to be asked over what is appropriate for its future.  Its tranquility is part of its attraction – at odds with a heavy industrial past and yet disheartening as this space should not lie vacant, neglected, 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)

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Govan Graving Docks Scotland
Govan Docks
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