Old Port Glasgow

Port Glasgow rose to importance in the eighteenth century as a port for merchants in the city of Glasgow. It developed a maritime infrastructure to service this need and gradually expanded the range of maritime activities beyond the town's original reason for existence. In 1762 the first dry-dock in Scotland was constructed by James Watt and by 1800 there were several thriving shipbuilders in the town. It was entirely appropriate that the first steam powered passenger ship in Europe was constructed as the Comet by John Wood's yard in 1812. The wealth of the town can be seen in David Hamilton's Town Buildings of 1815 (now a library). Trade associated with shipbuilding, such as the Gourock Ropeworks (established 1777), accompanied these developments and by 1900 Port Glasgow had a range of industrial enterprises from the shipyards to raw material refining.

These early twentieth century photographs show a town of heavy industry, activity and many of the social ills that accompanied late Victorian and Edwardian industry such as pollution and slum housing. These photographs were taken in the early 1920s in the aftermath of the First World War. The shipbuilding industry contracted during this period leaving the firm of Lithgow's in a predominant position and bringing much unemployment as shipyards consolidated.

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Page last updated: 11 April 2018