Signs of the times

SIGNS of Greenock’s rich history have appeared in the heart of the town centre thanks to eye-catching new name plates as part of a tourism and regeneration drive.

Inverclyde Council has supported Inverclyde Tourist Group in producing street signs to mark the ‘Historic Quarter’ which was once a global powerhouse for shipping and trade.

Thanks to £20,000 investment from the local authority’s Greenock Town Centre Regeneration Fund, over 40 new name plates have been installed in areas such as Customhouse Quay, Cathcart Street and Wallace Place.

The project was spearheaded by like-minded members of Inverclyde Tourist Group, who sought to enhance the area known as the ‘Historic Quarter’ which has proven popular with visitors on their walking tours over the years.

The embossed, aluminium street signs, or name plates, are in a more traditional style with black text on a white background and featuring a silhouette of arguably Greenock and Inverclyde’s most famous historical figure, James Watt. 

Historic Quarter Custom House Place Councillor Jim Clocherty with members of Inverclyde Tourist Group
Councillor Jim Clocherty with members of Inverclyde Tourist Group at the Historic Quarter signage in Custom House Place

Councillor Jim Clocherty, depute leader of Inverclyde Council and chair of the Greenock Town Centre Regeneration Forum, said: “The new name plates really add to and enhance what is probably the most recognisable part of the town centre with so many historic buildings, streets and stories that goes with them.

“This project fits in with the ongoing regeneration of the town centre and our efforts to encourage people to discover Inverclyde.

“The by-product of that is an improved experience for visitors and residents alike and hopefully a boost for local businesses.

“The tourist group has played a key role in promoting the area over the years, particularly in giving cruise ship passengers and crew a warm and friendly welcome, and I applaud their work here in helping to deliver the eye-catching Historic Quarter signage.”

The tourist group drew inspiration for the project from the vibrant Merchant City area of Glasgow and believes the signage will further enhance what is an important part of the area.

Betty Terris, chair of Inverclyde Tourist Group, said: “In 2016 we were asked to put together a walking tour for Doors Open Day.

“The area, now referred to as the Historic Quarter, has such a rich history and was the commercial heart of Greenock with many of the important and earliest buildings still surviving helping us to get a picture of Greenock as it developed into one of the most important ports in the 1800s.

Historic Quarter sign at Custom House, Greenock.
Historic Quarter sign at Custom House, Greenock

“The walk proved to be very popular and has been repeated many times for locals and visitors so we were asked to provide an accompanying guide so that it can be used as self-guided walk.

“As the Historic Quarter also includes the birth place of James Watt we felt that we wanted to mark this as an area of importance, as Glasgow has with the Merchant City district.

“We looked at the signs they have there and thought we could do something similar and as the 200th anniversary of James Watt’s death was approaching it seemed significant to incorporate him in the new signs.

“We hope that local businesses can see the importance of our ‘merchant’ area in the Historic Quarter.”

For more information about what Inverclyde has to offer and about the Greenock Historic Quarter Trail, visit