Shipbuilders sculpture launch

TWO of Inverclyde’s newest residents were given a warm welcome at the official launch of the striking Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow sculpture.

Ex-shipyard workers were among those at Coronation Park on Saturday (24 June 2023) to formally celebrate the completion of the huge 10 metre (33 feet) tall stainless-steel figures.

The sculpture, also known as ‘The Skelpies’, was designed and installed by renowned artist John McKenna to commemorate the shipbuilders of Port Glasgow and the Lower Clyde.

The artwork was commissioned by Riverside Inverclyde and Inverclyde Council and the design was chosen following a public vote.

Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow sculpture official launch Inverclyde councillors
Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow sculpture official launch Inverclyde councillors

Former provost and ex-plater, Councillor Robert Moran, unveiled a commemorative plaque at the ceremony and was joined by current provost, Drew McKenzie, artist John McKenna, and Gavin McDonagh, chairman of Riverside Inverclyde, and Anne Ross, from Port Glasgow West Community Council.

Councillor Moran said: “The sculpture really is bringing people from near and far to the town and we want to encourage people to Inverclyde and see what a wonderful place it is to live, work and visit.

“As well as the key aim of honouring the many thousands of people who served in our shipyards and made such a massive contribution to Port Glasgow, Inverclyde and the world, which I think it does, I’m proud that the sculpture is now helping to raise awareness of so many good causes and campaigns and long may that continue.”

The launch event also featured the screening of a new short film by local film-maker Chris Fallen, from Hidden Meaning Productions, charting the history of the sculpture from inception to completion.

The film is available to watch on the Inverclyde Council YouTube and social media channels or by clicking the link in the Other Websites section of this page. 

Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow sculpture official launch artist John McKenna
Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow sculpture official launch artist John McKenna.

Artist John McKenna said: “These two colossal figures are the biggest piece of sculptural work I’ve ever made to date. The two figures represent the shipbuilding industry of Port Glasgow.

“Ships that were made here on the Clyde were sent all over the world and the quality of workmanship coined the phrase ‘Clyde built’.

“I’d like to thank Riverside Inverclyde for having the idea for a public artwork in the first place and Inverclyde Council for commissioning the artwork.

“I was very pleased that the people of Port Glasgow chose my sculpture to be built, and I hope that both residents and future visitors to the area will all continue to enjoy these colossal ship builder statues for generations to come.”

The Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow figures were installed last year with lighting, benches, landscaping added in stages thereafter to complete the project.

It has proven very popular among the local population as well as day-trippers, passers-by, and particularly with amateur and professional photographers.

The sculpture has also been used to highlight many local and national campaigns by being lit different colours.

For more information about things to do and see in Inverclyde, visit