Launch a Public Inquiry Into Govan Graving Docks

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The dry docks at Govan – Govan Graving Docks – were completed in the late nineteenth century with the last one to be built, the large dock nearest to Govan Road, opening on 27th April 1898.

Commissioned by James Deas, the Chief Engineer of the Clyde Navigation Trust, No. 1 dry dock and No. 3 dry dock were the deepest dry docks in Britain when opened and could accommodate the largest ships in the world of the time. They pre-date the former burgh of Govan being incorporated into the City of Glasgow. The docks were used to repair and refit hundreds of Clydebuilt ships and were in active use until the late 1980s.

Since closing down the site has lain derelict and for much of that time it has continued to lie derelict and deteriorating in the ownership of several connected companies.

The walls of the dry docks are built from grey granite some of which is hand carved and are category A-listed. The only remaining building on the site is the sandstone pump house for No.1 dry dock. Also an A-listed building it is in poor condition with only the walls and a few roof beams remaining. Govan Graving Docks is a significant piece of Glasgow’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage and is the only major historic dock complex on the Upper Clyde that has not been filled in to make way for modern redevelopments.

We are now calling on the Scottish Government to initiate a full and thorough public inquiry into the status and ownership history of Govan Graving Docks since their closure in 1988.

An inquiry must also look at the role of Glasgow City Council (and historically at Glasgow District and Strathclyde Region councils) in failing to help secure the site despite several proposals for maritime museum or similar restorations having been put forward since 1989.

It has been claimed that the chance to create a world-class maritime heritage centre at Govan Graving Docks during the 1990s was actively discouraged and prevented by government and development agencies. If this is the case we need answers. We need to know which agencies blocked this (and why) and individuals need to be held to account for their actions. We need to know if such behaviour is still going on today.

We need to know why such a significant piece of Glasgow’s maritime and industrial heritage has been allowed to lie derelict for so long in the hands of seemingly undercapitalised developers while a mortgage on the site has been passed into the Irish Banks NAMA toxic debt portfolio.

We need to know why for years the regulations on maintenance of listed buildings have not been adhered to at Govan Graving Docks and why title deed conditions requiring maintenance of the quay walls also appear not to have been observed.

The inquiry must establish whether there has been any public sector malfeasance in relation to Govan Graving Docks in the years since they closed down.

We have reason to suspect that Glasgow City Council and certain Council members may be preparing an agenda to railroad through the plans of housing developers despite overwhelming evidence of public opposition to housing development at the site.

We are also concerned that there may be an agenda to allocate public funds to a private redevelopment of the site.

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