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 relics from the shipbuilding era, has been abandoned and detached from the city for too long. Spared from the clutches of development, nature has taken hold, and a vast expansive wilderness, remains fragile and in need of reconnection with the city and 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 to present new alternatives for what should now be. Fortunately a proposal for 700-800 owner occupied homes, has been rejected, which offered little to the existing community in Govan, and further eroded Govan’s cultural heritage in the wake of the cranes being removed from its skyline. An appropriate and inclusive form of housing may be a welcome addition to the area to enable residents 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.

I imagine an urban park, a gateway into Govan, a creative open public waterside landscape, opening up the area to new vistas, encouraging activity, recreation, and an environment that reinterprets heritage with new development, lighting, and public art. 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.

Nature is a perfect post-covid and post-industrial key to unlocking this site’s potential, and its protection offers new solutions to urban land use and climate change strategies. In tandem with COP26 @bluegreen_glasgow & @seawatersolutions (helped by many volunteers) have initiated a restorative natural ecosystem with wetland marsh plants with high capacity for carbon capture taking hold. Change needs to happen and a powerful piece of artwork by Still/Moving addressed the need to reflect and act on the consequences of action or inaction. ‘No New Worlds‘. A new future awaits.

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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