The River Clyde (Scottish Gaelic: Abhainn Chluaidh, pronounced [ˈavɪɲ ˈxl̪ˠuəj], Scots: Clyde Watter, or Watter o Clyde) is a river that flows into the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is the eighth-longest river in the United Kingdom, and the second-longest in Scotland. Traveling through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire. To the Romans, it was Clota, and in the early medieval Cumbric language, it was known as Clud or Clut, and was central to the Kingdom of Strathclyde (Teyrnas Ystrad Clut).
|Counties||Argyll, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde|
|Source||Lowther Hills in South Lanarkshire|
|⁃ location||South Lanarkshire, Scotland, United Kingdom|
|Mouth||Firth of Clyde|
|North Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom|
|Length||170 km (110 mi)|
|Basin size||4,000 km2 (1,500 sq mi)|
|Official name||Inner Clyde Estuary|
|Designated||5 September 2000|
The Clyde is formed by the confluence of two streams, the Daer Water (the headwaters of which are dammed to form the Daer Reservoir) and the Potrail Water. The Southern Upland Way crosses both streams before they meet at Watermeetings (grid reference ) to form the River Clyde proper. At this point, the Clyde is only 10 km (6 mi) from Tweed's Well, the source of the River Tweed, and is also near Annanhead Hill, the source of the River Annan.
From there, it meanders northeastward before turning to the west, its flood plain used for many major roads in the area, until it reaches the town of Lanark. On the banks of the Clyde, the industrialists David Dale and Robert Owen built their mills and the model settlement of New Lanark. The mills harness the power of the Falls of Clyde, the most spectacular of which is Cora Linn. A hydroelectric power station still generates electricity here, although the mills are now a museum and World Heritage Site.
Between the towns of Motherwell and Hamilton, the course of the river has been altered to create an artificial loch within Strathclyde Park. Part of the original course can still be seen, and lies between the island and the east shore of the loch. The river then flows through Blantyre and Bothwell, where the ruined Bothwell Castle stands on a defensible promontory.
Past Uddingston and into the southeast of Glasgow, the river begins to widen, meandering a course through Cambuslang, Rutherglen, and Dalmarnock. Flowing past Glasgow Green, the river is artificially straightened and widened through the centre, and although the new Clyde Arc now hinders access to the traditional Broomielaw dockland area, seagoing ships can still come upriver as far as Finnieston, where the PS Waverley docks. From there, it flows past the shipbuilding heartlands, through Govan, Partick, Whiteinch, Scotstoun, and Clydebank, all of which housed major shipyards, of which only two remain.
The river flows out west of Glasgow, past Renfrew, and under the Erskine Bridge past Dumbarton on the north shore to the sandbank at Ardmore Point between Cardross and Helensburgh. Opposite, on the south shore, the river continues past the last Lower Clyde shipyard at Port Glasgow to Greenock, where it reaches the Tail of the Bank as the river merges into the Firth of Clyde. A significant issue of oxygen depletion in the water column has occurred at the mouth of the River Clyde.
The valley of the Clyde was the focus for the G-BASE project from the British Geological Survey in the summer of 2010.
The success of the Clyde at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was driven by the location of Glasgow, being a port facing the Americas. Tobacco and cotton trade began the drive in the early 18th century. However, the shallow Clyde was not navigable for the largest ocean-going ships, so cargo had to be transferred at Greenock or Port Glasgow to smaller ships to sail upstream into Glasgow itself.
In 1768, John Golborne advised the narrowing of the river and the increasing of the scour by the construction of rubble jetties and the dredging of sandbanks and shoals. A particular problem was the division of the river into two shallow channels by the Dumbuck shoal near Dumbarton. After James Watt's report on this in 1769, a jetty was constructed at Longhaugh Point to block off the southern channel. This being insufficient, a training wall called the Lang Dyke was built in 1773 on the Dumbuck shoal to stop water flowing over into the southern channel. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, hundreds of jetties were built out from the banks between Dumbuck and the Broomielaw quay in Glasgow itself. In some cases, this resulted in an immediate deepening as the constrained water flow washed away the river bottom; in others, dredging was required.
In the mid-19th century, engineers took on a much greater dredging of the Clyde, removing millions of cubic feet of silt to deepen and widen the channel. The major stumbling block in the project was a massive geological intrusion known as Elderslie Rock. As a result, the work was not completed until the 1880s. At this time, the Clyde also became an important source of inspiration for artists, such as John Atkinson Grimshaw and James Kay, willing to depict the new industrial era and the modern world.
The completion of the dredging was well-timed; as steelworking grew in the city, the channel finally became navigable all the way up to Glasgow. Shipbuilding replaced trade as the major activity on the river, and shipbuilding companies were rapidly establishing themselves on the river. Soon, the Clyde gained a reputation for being the best location for shipbuilding in the British Empire, and grew to become the world's pre-eminent shipbuilding centre. Clydebuilt became an industry benchmark of quality, and the river's shipyards were given contracts for prestigious ocean-going liners, as well as warships, including the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth 2 in later years, all built in the town of Clydebank.
From the founding of the Scott family's shipyard at Greenock in 1712 to the present day, over 25,000 ships have been built on the River Clyde and its Firth and on the tributary River Kelvin and River Cart together with boatyards at Maryhill and Kirkintilloch on the Forth & Clyde Canal and Blackhill on the Monkland Canal. In the same time, an estimated over 300 firms have engaged in shipbuilding on Clydeside, although probably a peak of 30 to 40 at any one time.
The shipbuilding firms became household names on Clydeside, but also known around the world – Denny of Dumbarton, Scott of Greenock, Lithgows of Port Glasgow, Simon and Lobnitz of Renfrew, Alexander Stephen and Sons of Linthouse, Fairfield of Govan, Inglis of Pointhouse, Barclay Curle of Whiteinch, Connell and Yarrow of Scotstoun, to name but a few. Almost as famous were the engineering firms that supplied the machinery to drive these vessels, the boilers and pumps, and steering gear – Rankin & Blackmore, Hastie's and Kincaid's of Greenock, Rowan's of Finnieston, Weir's of Cathcart, Howden's of Tradeston, and Babcock & Wilcox of Renfrew.
One 'Clyde' shipyard was not even located on one of these waterways: Alley & MacLellan's Sentinel Works in Jessie Street at Polmadie is around half a mile from the Clyde, yet it is reputed to have constructed over 500 vessels, many of which were assembled then 'knocked down' to kit form for despatch to some far distant and remote location – one such vessel being the SS Chauncy Maples, still in service on Lake Malawi. Clyde shipbuilding reached its peak in the years just before World War I, and over 370 ships were thought to have been completed in 1913.
The first recorded Clyde racing yacht, a 46-ton cutter, was built by Scotts of Greenock in 1803, and the great Scottish yacht designer William Fyfe did not start designing yachts until 1807. The first yacht club on the Clyde was the Northern Yacht Club, which appeared in 1824 and received its Royal Charter in 1831. The club was founded to organise and encourage the sport, and by 1825, Scottish and Irish clubs were racing against each other on the Clyde. However, yachting and yacht building did not really take off until the middle of the 19th century.
The Clyde became famous worldwide for its significant contribution to yachting and yachtbuilding, and was the home of many notable designers: William Fife III, Alfred Mylne, G. L. Watson, E. McGruer, and David Boyd. It was also the home of many famous yacht yards.
Robertson's Yard started repairing boats in a small workshop at Sandbank in 1876, and went on to become one of the foremost wooden boat builders on the Clyde. The 'golden years' of Robertson's yard were in the early 20th century, when they started building classic 12- and 15-m racing yachts. More than 55 boats were built by Robertson's in preparation for the First World War, and the yard remained busy even during the Great Depression in the 1930s, as many wealthy businessmen developed a passion for yacht racing on the Clyde. During World War II, the yard was devoted to Admiralty work, producing large, high-speed Fairmile Marine motor boats (motor torpedo boats and motor gun boats). After the war, the yard built the successful one-class Loch Longs and two David Boyd-designed 12-m challengers for the America's Cup: Sceptre (1958) and Sovereign (1964). Due to difficult business conditions in 1965, the yard was turned over to GRP production work (mainly Pipers and Etchells) until it closed in 1980. During its 104-year history, Robertson's Yard built 500 boats, many of which are still sailing today.
Other notable boatyards on the Clyde, both situated on the Rosneath peninsula on the banks of the Gare Loch within half a mile of each other, were Silvers (1910-1970) and McGruers (1910-1973). Both yards built many well-known and classic yachts, some of which are still sailing today. McGruers built over 700 boats but both yards are no longer in business as boatbuilders.
The downfall of the Clyde as a major industrial centre came during and after World War II. Clydebank in particular was targeted by the Luftwaffe and sustained heavy damage. The immediate postwar period had a severe reduction in warship orders, which was balanced by a prolonged boom in merchant shipbuilding. By the end of the 1950s, however, the rise of other shipbuilding nations, recapitalised and highly productive, made many European yards uncompetitive. Several Clydeside yards booked a series of loss-making contracts in the hope of weathering the storm. However, by the mid-1960s, shipbuilding on the Clyde was becoming increasingly uneconomical and potentially faced collapse. This culminated in the closure of Harland and Wolff's Linthouse yard and a bankruptcy crisis facing Fairfields of Govan. The government responded by creating the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders consortium. After the consortium's controversial collapse in 1971, the Labour government of James Callaghan later passed the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act, which nationalised most of the Clyde's shipyards and grouped them with other major British shipyards such as British Shipbuilders.
Today, two major shipyards remain in operation on the Upper Clyde; they are owned by a naval defence contractor, BAE Systems Surface Ships, which specialises in the design and construction of technologically advanced warships for the Royal Navy and other navies around the world. The two yards are the former Yarrow yard at Scotstoun and Fairfields at Govan. Also, the King George V Dock is operated by the Clyde Port Authority. On the Lower Clyde, the privately owned Ferguson Shipbuilders at Port Glasgow is the last survivor of the many shipyards that once dominated Port Glasgow and Greenock – its mainstay being the construction of car ferries.
The Clyde Waterfront Regeneration project is expected to attract investment of up to £5.6bn in the area from Glasgow Green to Dumbarton. Market gardens and garden centres have grown up on the fertile plains of the Clyde Valley. Tourism has also brought many back to the riverside, especially in Glasgow, where former docklands have given way to housing and amenities on the banks in the city, for instance, the Glasgow Harbour project, the Glasgow Science Centre, and the creation of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. With the migration of the commercial Port of Glasgow downstream to the deeper waters of the Firth of Clyde, the river has been extensively cleaned up, once having a very poor reputation for pollution and sewage, to make it suitable for recreational use.
The Clyde Walkway is a foot and mountain bike path that follows the course of the Clyde between Glasgow and New Lanark. It was completed in 2005, and is now designated as one of Scotland's Great Trails by Scottish Natural Heritage.
Organic chemical pollution contained in sediments of the Clyde estuary have been evaluated by British Geological Survey. Surface sediments from the Glasgow reaches of the Clyde, Cunningar to Milton, contained polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from 630 µg/kg to 23,711 µg/kg and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) in the range of 5 to 130.5 µg/kg, which classifies these sediments as non-toxic. However, a later study showed PCB concentrations as high as 5,797 µg/kg, which is above published threshold levels for the chlorinated compounds. Comparison of individual PAH compounds with different thermal stabilities shows that the source of PAH pollution in the Clyde changes downriver. PAH in the inner Clyde (Cunningar to Milton) are from combustion sources (vehicle exhaust, coal burning), whereas PAH in the outer Clyde are from petroleum spills
The amount and type of sedimentary pollution contained in the Clyde is closely related to the area's industrial history. Assessment of the changing type of pollution through time (1750 to 2002) has been gained through the collection of seven sediment cores of one metre's depth which were dated using lead concentrations and changing lead isotope ratios. The sediments showed a long but declining history of coal usage and an increasing reliance on petroleum fuels from about the 1950s. Thereafter, declining hydrocarbon pollution was followed by the onset (1950s), peak (1965–1977), and decline (after 1980s) in total PCB concentrations.
Although pollution from heavy industry and power generation is falling, evidence indicates that man-made pollution from new synthetic compounds in electrical products and textiles is on the increase. The amounts of 16 polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) compounds used as flame retardants in televisions, computers, and furniture upholstery were measured in sediment cores collected from six sites between Princes Dock and Greenock. Comparison of the amounts of PBDE compounds revealed a decline in certain compounds in line with the European ban on production of mixtures containing environmentally harmful PBDE with eight and nine bromine atoms and a rise in the less harmful mixture composed of ten bromine atoms.
The Clyde is central to the Para Handy novels of Neil Munro, and subsequent adaptations, and features in novels by Alasdair Gray, Matthew Fitt, and Robin Jenkins. It appears in the "Ossian" poetry of James Macpherson, as well as the works of John Wilson, William McGonagall, Edwin Morgan, Norman McCaig, Douglas Dunn and W.S. Graham. It features in artworks by, amongst others, William McTaggart, J.M.W. Turner, Robert Salmon, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Stanley Spencer, and George Wyllie.
The Clyde appears prominently in the films Young Adam, Sweet Sixteen, Just a Boys' Game, and Down Where The Buffalo Go, and was the subject of the Academy Award-winning film documentary Seawards the Great Ships. It is referenced in the traditional folk songs "Clyde's Water" and "Black Is the Color (of My True Love's Hair)", as well as "Song of the Clyde", popularised by Kenneth McKellar.
Avon Water, also known locally as the River Avon, is a 24-mile-long (39 km) river in Scotland, and a tributary of the River Clyde.Barclay Curle
Seawind Barclay Curle is a British shipbuilding company.Clyde Tunnel
The Clyde Tunnel is a crossing beneath the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Two parallel tunnel tubes connect the districts of Whiteinch to the north and Govan to the south in the west of the city.Dalmarnock
Dalmarnock (, Scottish Gaelic: Dail Mheàrnaig) is a district in the Scottish city of Glasgow. It is situated north of the River Clyde opposite the town of Rutherglen. It is bounded by the Clyde to the south and east, Parkhead & Celtic F.C. to the north, and Bridgeton at Dunn Street to the north west. The area covers part of a loop in the River Clyde called the Cuningar Loop (known locally as 'The Vallies').Douglas Water
The Douglas Water (Scottish Gaelic: Dùghlas) is a river in South Lanarkshire of south-central Scotland. It is a tributary of the River Clyde.Finnieston
Finnieston is an area of Glasgow, Scotland, situated on the north bank of the River Clyde roughly between the city's West End and the city centre. Finnieston's boundarys trace along the river Clyde to the south, Finnieston Street to the east and roughly follows St. Vincent Crescent to the north. At the termination of St. Vincent Crescent the boundary continues in a south westerly line till it meets with the river Clyde on the western side of the Clydeside Distillery. Contrary to modern popular belief, no part of Argyle Street lies within Finnieston. The areas of Kelvingrove, Overnewton and Kelvinhaugh are often wrongly attributed as Finnieston. This error is likely a result of estate agent gerrymandering.
Finnieston is home to the SECC and SSE Hydro, where many musical concerts, sporting events and conferences are held. It is also the location of Glasgow City Heliport, home base of both the Police Scotland air support unit and the Scottish Ambulance Service "Helimed 5".Firth of Clyde
The Firth of Clyde is the mouth of the River Clyde and the deepest coastal waters in the British Isles, sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by the Kintyre peninsula which encloses the outer firth in Argyll and Ayrshire. The Kilbrannan Sound is a large arm of the Firth of Clyde, separating the Kintyre Peninsula from the Isle of Arran. Within the Firth of Clyde is another major island – the Isle of Bute. Given its strategic location, at the entrance to the middle/upper Clyde, Bute played a vitally important military (naval) role during World War II.
The Firth's climate enjoys the benefit of the Gulf Stream, part of the North Atlantic Drift, originating in the Gulf of Mexico.
At its entrance the firth is some 26 miles (42 km) wide. Its upper reaches include an area where it is joined by Loch Long and the Gare Loch. This includes the large anchorage off Greenock known as the Tail of the Bank in reference to the sandbar which separates the firth from the estuary of the River Clyde. The Clyde is still almost 2 miles (3.2 km) wide at the sandbar, and its upper tidal limit is at the tidal weir adjacent to Glasgow Green.
The cultural and geographical distinction between the firth and the River Clyde is vague, and people will sometimes refer to Dumbarton as being on the Firth of Clyde, while the population of Port Glasgow and Greenock frequently refer to the firth to their north as "the river". In Scottish Gaelic the landward end is called Linne Chluaidh (pronounced [ˈʎiɲə ˈxlˠ̪uəj]; meaning the same as the English), while the area around the south of Arran, Kintyre and Ayrshire/Galloway is An Linne Ghlas [ə ˈʎiɲə ˈɣlˠ̪as̪].Garrion Bridge
Garrion Bridge is a small hamlet spanning the border between North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It is located on the banks of the Clyde Valley, 18 miles (29 km) south-east of Glasgow. The hamlet is most commonly associated with the nearby town of Wishaw.HMS Bramham
HMS Bramham (L51) was a Hunt-class destroyer of the Royal Navy laid down in Alexander Stephen and Sons shipyards Govan, Scotland on 7 April 1941. She was launched on 29 January 1942 and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 16 June 1942. She was named after the Bramham Moor Hunt and has been the only Royal Navy warship to bear the name. She was adopted by the town of Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire during the Warship Week savings campaign of 1942.HMS Honeysuckle (K27)
HMS Honeysuckle was a Flower-class corvette that served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War. She served as an ocean escort in the Battle of the Atlantic.HNoMS Svenner (G03)
HNoMS Svenner was a S-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during the Second World War and loaned to exiled Royal Norwegian Navy. Svenner was sunk off Sword, one of the Allied landing zones in Normandy, at dawn on 6 June 1944 while supporting the British Army Normandy landings.Kingston Bridge, Glasgow
The Kingston Bridge is a balanced cantilever dual-span ten lane road bridge made of triple-cell segmented prestressed concrete box girders crossing the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland.
Carrying the M8 motorway through the city centre, the Kingston Bridge is the busiest bridge in Europe, carrying around 150,000 vehicles every day.List of places in Glasgow
Map of places in Glasgow compiled from this list
See the list of places in Scotland for places in other counties.River Kelvin
The River Kelvin is a tributary of the River Clyde in northern and northeastern Glasgow, Scotland. It rises on the moor south east of the village of Banton, east of Kilsyth. At almost 22 miles (35 km) long, it initially flows south to Dullatur Bog where it falls into a man made trench and takes a ninety degree turn flowing west through Strathkelvin and along the northern boundary of the bog parallel with the Forth and Clyde Canal.SS Wollongbar (1911)
Wollongbar was a 2,005-ton passenger steamship built by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Company, Troon in 1911 for the North Coast Steam Navigation Company.Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company
Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited, often referred to simply as Scotts, was a Scottish shipbuilding company based in Greenock on the River Clyde. In its time in Greenock, Scotts built over 1,250 ships.Tradeston
Tradeston (Scots: Tredstoun) is a small district in the Scottish city of Glasgow adjacent to the city centre on the south bank of the River Clyde.William Denny and Brothers
William Denny and Brothers Limited, and often referred to simply as Denny, was a Scottish shipbuilding company.Yarrow Shipbuilders
Yarrow Shipbuilders Limited (YSL), often styled as simply Yarrows, was a major shipbuilding firm based in the Scotstoun district of Glasgow on the River Clyde. It is now part of BAE Systems Surface Ships, owned by BAE Systems, which has also operated the nearby Govan shipyard (formerly Fairfields) since 1999.
River Clyde, Scotland
(upstream to downstream)
|Major tributaries |
(upstream to downstream by confluence)
|Major bridges and Crossings |
(upstream to downstream)
Shipyards of the Clyde