Green Enterprise Initiative for Greater Govan – Gravings Docks / The Shed

It would be interesting to know how Glasgow City Council and relevant housing associations in Greater Govan view the effects of millions of EU money to resolve the problem of  unemployment in Govan. 


MP Ian Davidson was hopeful in 2007 that new projects would bring about zero unemployment in Govan.  However it seems that even less 10% of workers on building / construction projects around Govan, have had a local Govan postcode. And of the workers currently working in the offices which are not lying empty, most seem to come in from outwith the local area.  With only 15 and 30 minute breaks during the shift – there is hardly enough time for workers to access the local shops during lunch breaks, and it seems hard to understand how they contribute much to the local economy except perhaps Super-Asda on Helen Street.


The Fairfield Community Garden - which has so far cost the council around £2,500 – should be viewed as a feather in Linthouse Housing Association's cap – such great results for such a small amount of money.

So much delight has been produced from a lot of love and hard work by the community volunteers.  The garden swaps free vegetables or salads, in return for small donations, favours, or a few hours work.  Visitors lucky enough to find the gates open, often express amazement and delight that such a place exists in Govan.


Essentially, the garden has been a place for persons who are unemployed or have some disability to freely work and express themselves.  Most members live in a close, with no garden at all, and local children have enjoyed helping out when they can.  Many pots and seeds have been taken home to grow on family windowsills and in drying areas


Govan Gravings Docks

Currently a quiet oasis of calm in Govan – the derelict spot is frequently up for discussion on regeneration by current owners, Bishop Loch and partners, although it is not sure how much the local community is involved with these plans.  Sold originally to City Canals by the local water authority who I suppose was granted the land by HRH Prince Phillip, City Canals granted the land to Windex, who was in essence BishopLoch.  BishopLoch have teamed up with New City Vision, who are currently threatening to depose current community residents from the KelvinWay Community Gardens to build


One thing is pretty certain, and that is the same old same old overpriced office units which seem to predominate the proposals, are hardly likely to contribute much to reducing unemployment in Govan, with exception perhaps, to a overlong promised bridge from the Docks to the Science Centre, to make it easier for pedestrians to walk up river to the city, although the plethora of current “Do not Trespass” barriers and blockades on the Southside of the river, which drive all walkers back to Paisley Road West, adding at least another fifteen minutes to what could be a very pleasant walk indeed, will surely need to be removed. We can only assume that current planners and developers have their own transport or would have delivered a solution to this problem years ago


18 Clydebrae St – The Gravings Docks  

Graving - a classic form of dry dock :

" a narrow basin, usually made of earthen berms and concrete, closed by gates or by a caisson, into which a vessel may be floated and the water pumped out, leaving the vessel supported on blocks" wiki ref


Built for endurance by Harland & Wolf from granite, the gravings docks were dry dock areas to work on the hulls of the big ships - scrape off barnacles, fill in the holes, and paint them up, etc


Now a quiet rubble filled rural space, overgrown with buddlia and goat willow, the granite seems to store heat providing a small micro-climate of it’s own.  One can’t help but wonder if a market garden would do well there – greenhouses filled with tomatoes, grapes, okra and green peppers, herbs and fruit trees.


Those hardy Vikings, The Galgael are interested in having close river access for their boats, and some dream of a sailing school on the River Clyde.  It is said that the Scottish Economy could stand to benefit from and should a marina be established, apparently there is still a need for a gravings business to service the boats.


Alongside the Gravings Docks is a large basin area also owned by Bishop Loch, which would make an excellent marina.  of course, a marina would require to be serviced by a washing / drying / shower / laundry area, 24/7 hour basic necessitites, plus perhaps addequate bunkhouse services for the sea sick or those just waiting for the boat to come in.


Further along by the BBC, the Bell Bridge is the beginning of many routes for walkers and cyclists – so bunkhouse, bike shed, chandlers would be a bonus, as could be salad bars, and therapy suites


The Shed

A large red brick building – the Shed, lies on the south side of Cydebrae St. Metal clad on one side, and red brick on the other, the Shed has already had an expensive face lift. Once the space where all the paint was stored, the Shed is now a large space offering storage space and / or film set space - famously we believe Brad Pitt was there just recently during his sojourn in Glasgow City filming zombies.


Outlying sites are used by small business. This space may currently be preventing access to any development to the Gravings Area, but could be developed itself as a super hotel servicing the marina area – 24/7. If developers would only consider a green tech hotel – one could imagine an efficient engineering business might make good use of four tides per day to provide power. Perhaps such a business could be persuaded to use the site to develop and test out ideas.


Taking the sustainable living notion further, rooms / suites might be individually styled with furnishings provided by local recycling businesses – according to the Shieldhall depot the largest recycled materials are furniture.  Sewing furnishings could provide more jobs for local workers?


And a decent entertainment area bringing live music and celtic events to Govan would be a bonus. Currently the only entertainment venues in Govan after 6 pm are the public houses – children not allowed


  • Dormitories / Bunkhouse & Supporting Facilities for Marina / Back Packing Travellers / Cyclists : Drying Space, Laundrette, Showers Salad Bars, Small Shop, Storage for bicycles
  • Kitchen
  • Dining Area + Al Fresco Eating Barbecue Area – adjoined to Garden Project
  • Leisure Entertainment Area for Events – Weddings / Celtic Connections ++
  • Therapy Treatment Rooms providing services & training in conjunction with local colleges
  • Upper floors ensuite / studios

Anyway the Gravings Docks – ideas put forward so far

Govan Gravings & Shed

Green City Employment Initiative Project/ Govan Gravings Docks and Marina -18 Clydebrae Street

Current Position

Discussion to use the land for allotments and bridge to Science Centre and extend Clyde River Walk

  • Several multi million projects for housing commercial development which could involve covering / filling in of historic granite dry dock area with concrete


Interesting Links

  1. Berlin River Sports / Arts / Leisure Arena  - huge entertainments arena including swimming area
  2. Glasgow Harbour Leisure Complex
  3. GCC Report 2005
  4. City Dock / Gravings Docks
  5. Architectural River Tour October
  6. What a Waste - Green Buildings 
  7. Battlefield Community Garden
  8. Urban Roots Website
  9. Saving Britain's Pearl Mussels


Burdens on the Land

  • Mortgaged twice after property acquired by BishopLoch one from Scottish Enterprise and second from the Bank of Ireland?
  • Responsibility for upkeep of the river bank – Gravings Docks Govan – solid expensive investment built to last from solid granite blocks & there are plants which also preserve river banks and others which cleam water
  • Securing the property for safe public use – railings etc


Current owners

  • Land was acquired by Bishop Loch Developments(Scotland) which is partnered with Laing O’Rourke as New City Vision? & © The Burrell Company (Developments) Limited


Current state and use of the land

  • One ruined original building (the pump house??) + rubble from other demolished buildings.
  • It is a pleasant local wilderness tidied up for the 1988 River Festival Granite docks – buildings were demolished and the rubble covered with top soil and plants.  Locals are still puzzled as to why the plantings were taken away after the event.  The area is now covered with goat willow & buddlia – and there is some evidence of wild life


Safety Concerns :

  • No railings & small holes dropping straight down to river below
  • Area has been used as dumping ground
  • Some of the old machinery still in existence / possible asbestos / pollution of land
  • Young persons swimming in the gravings


The Proposal

  • A combined Marina / Sports / Community Market Garden Business Development, to provide local population with ongoing employment opportunites and bring businesss to the local communities



  • Generation of long standing jobs and income to the local community both in the creation and in the running of enterrprise and support to tourist industry providing pleasant interesting site 15 minutes walk along the river from the heart of Glasgow City helping to restore pride to the local community many of whom talk about the good old days when there were boatson the river
  • Promotion of sustainable living – experimentation with green technology and recycling allowing the community to get involved with recycling effort and the harmonious future of the planet
  • Area for Community to enjoy and securing dangerous space


Local Employment and Paid Jobs

  • Seating walled growing beds retaining earth from builders all from recycled materials present and where possible conservation / restoration of some of the machinery
  • Working project – creating something from nothing using resources – Recycling / composting / worm farm
  • Market garden – herbal gardens & greenhouses
  • Experimental energy source projects using river & wind, wind & water turbines & recycling
  • Marina / Sailing school / Water taxi – original marina areas
  • Graving Services – scratching barnacles from sides of boats & adding coat of paint, unpopular chore among boat owners.
  • Safe Swimming Area – Surrounded by water cleaning reed beds & lilies
  • Slipway for River Access
  • Permaculture training & courses co-joined with local colleges
  • Working with agencies to help improve the river environment