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GLASGOW MADE THE CLYDE AND THE CLYDE MADE GLASGOW the early years of wooden shipbuilding

To mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of John Barclay’s shipyard, John Moore takes a look at shipbuilding on the Clyde during a period of rapid industrialisation
Detail from William Simpson’s New Quay on South Bank (1895)

Last year saw the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the first shipyard on the upper reaches of the Clyde at Glasgow. Opened in 1818, John Barclay’s yard was located on the north bank a little more than a mile west of the Broomielaw at Stobcross where, initially, wooden sailing ships were constructed. Since then, the story of the Clyde has been inextricably linked with the building of ships.

Barclay’s site was a well-chosen location, with a gentle slope running down to the river at a point with sufficient depth for the launching of larger vessels. Slipways were added to the facilities later, enabling hulls to be inspected more easily. This was particularly valuable at a time when the river offered no dry dock facilities. Fig. 1 is an image by an unknown artist that illustrates the slip-dock of the Stobcross yard and comes from a unique manuscript account of the Barony parish of Glasgow prepared in 1827 by James Hopkirk of Dalbeth.

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About History Scotland

The March/April issue of History Scotland is packed full of the latest research news and in-depth reads from experts in the fields of Scottish history, heritage and archaeology. Highlights include: 'The Stewart Queens of Scotland: Margaret of Denmark. New research on the life of Margaret, who reigned alongside James III of Scots Scottish coastal history: a wide-ranging overview of Scotland’s coastline over the centuries A guide to Agricola’s campaign in Scotland Curator review of the new Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery at National Museum of Scotland Underwater archaeology at Loch Tay New excavations at the prison of Mary Queen of Scots in Sheffield Castle Plus: Family history advice, archaeology dig reports and finds analysis, history of art series and lots more…​