18 Clydebrae Street, Glasgow.
OS Ref: NS56 NE118
Created: February 2003


On the site of the Docks

Focus on the buildings

The Docks viewed from Pacific Quay

Engineering Drawings

Post Demolition Photographs (29/06/2003)

The Stephen Donnelly Collection: The Docks in Use

Graving Dock 1



Width at top

Width at bottom

Dock 1:




Dock 2:




Dock 3:




The start of March 2003 saw what remained of the Graving Docks buildings being demolished in preparation for the redevelopment of the site (links on the left to further information about these plans).

The photos contained in these next pages show what remained after more than 20 years of neglect and vandalism.

Alternative Names: Govan dry docks

Govan Graving Docks: Glasgow harbour opened their first graving dock was opened at Meadowside by Tod & MacGregor in 1858. This was followed by the building of the Govan Dry Docks in 1869-75.

On the Web:

The Virtual Mitchell library has some pictures of the Docks. You can find a few in the Govan section, and a few more in the ship building section.

The photos show the docks drained and in use.

Links (on clydeshipping)

Other links:

Govan Graving Docks was built between 1869 & 1875 BY Clyde Navigation Trust to cater for the huge demand for a facility that allowed for inspection and repair of the bottom of ships (normally below water!!). They remained in use until 1988. The Dock consists of 3 basins. The largest (Dock 3) on the Govan Road side was large enough to accommodate 2 ships.

The site of the Graving docks has had a varied past; it was the location of Govan's first Free Church. When the church moved onto new premises the building found a new use as a theatre. The theatre in turn became a music hall, before once again changing use into a lodging house for Russian Soldiers who had been sent here to man the "Peter the Great".

The site has lain derelict since it was abandoned in 1988, and time has taken its toll with many of the buildings vandalised and burnt out.

The future for this site does however look shiny - if not a bit of a departure from its shipping heritage! the Graving Docks will give way to the usual residential and commercial developments...along with houseboats, bars, a floating restaurant and shops!


Your Memories


Well, first of all thanks for the wonderful images of the docks. I'd been meaning for years to visit and explore them, and your site at last gave me the inspiration to do so, coupled with the sudden realisation that their demolition had begun. I only wish I'd done it sooner. Of the buildings pictured on your site, only the pump house and the building with the tower remained on Saturday. I returned on Sunday to find half the pump house gone, so I guess I visited not a moment too soon. Little opportunity for hand-carryable souvenir hunting (the old electrical gear in your images was fantastic but is undoubtedly now buried), but maybe the architectural salvage yards will have something.

Thanks again; I'll keep watching your site to see if anyone provides archive images of the place in use.

Cheers for now

Matthew Padden

I thought Iwould let you know that my Father John Williams worked at the Govan Graving Dock for almost forty years. He worked for most of that time in the main compressor house that was situated on the right hand side just as you entered the dock. I remember him telling me many stories about the docks. Three in particular come to mind.

The first was about a boat that was in the small dock, the one furthest away from the road. It had been positioned at the gate end of the dock. Unfortunately the gate burst and the force of the water entering the dry dock lifted the boat right out of the water and throw it over the wall at the other end of the dock ending up in the street on the other side. Another one is about the gang of men who came into the dock one night(unoficially) and stole a brass propellor weighing many tons by loading it onto a lorry and driving away with it, and nobody said a word. The last one is about one of his colleagues. High up on the inside wall in the compressor house was a small round window that had no visble means of getting up to it. My dad's work mate swore blind that he kept seeing a mans face at the window. I don't know what ever became of my dad's work mate.

It is a great pity that this site was never developed as a maritime museum housing such boats as the Royal Yacht, The Carrick and the Tall Ship now based on the other side of the river. It was a big mistake giving the Royal Yacht to Leith. It should have been returned to its home town.


Jim Williams [15/07/2003]

Does anyone have any information, stories or photographs relating to Govan Graving Docks? Maybe you worked there - or knew someone who did... We would like to hear from you. Are our facts accurate, please let us know!





All images © hiddenglasgow.com 2002

updated: 21st March 2003