After my meeting with Ethel-May Abel, I received a very informative email from her – I felt it was well worth adding sections from this to this blog:
“You will recall that I said the yard was previously called the smith and something yard- well I was wrong (wrong spelling and wrong location). The yard was Stephen and Linthouse which became the Fairfield’s yard.
Although latterly Harland and Wolf did encompass this space and Govan and Partick Burgh extended from Sheildhall to the Canting Basin(Princess Dock) from west to east.
The documents show this area being occupied by a yard for shipbuilding firm 1839 and under the operation of Robert Napier from1841 and Randolph and Elder by 1860-1863 Napier is the father of shipbuilding (note – all of the streets in the Riverside Housing Scheme are named for Napier). Napier expanded into Govan East yard until Napier’s death when it passed to Dr A C Kirk. Lying between the Old Yard and east yard was Middleton yard (1842) which expanded in 1864. Together these yards were developed by the early 20th century operated as Harland and Wolf until the closure in 1962.
Prior to this period Govan centre was common land used for drying, grazing and bleaching. Bleaching was very common. The weaving industry was a main employer through the 18th and early 19th century. The first silk works in Scotland was founded in Govan. Undoubtedly it was also the location for dye works- which used water from the top of Doomster Hill- founded by Alexander Reid.
Until the river was re-engineered in the early 19th Century the crossing point at Govan was very important to trade with brewing and ale houses on either side of the river. The common lands extended back from the river and the road pattern today often reflects the location of these common lands thus the long roads leading south as goods would go by land to Gourock and Greenock. The crossing of the Clyde as a ford therefore is the reason for the growth of both places and the importance of transport even now- the Govan underground depot and Partick – is the largest regional station in Scotland handling more people than other City stations.”
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