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Clydebank

(Barns o' Clyde)
West Dunbartonshire

An industrial town on the north bank of the River Clyde, 6 miles (10 km) northwest of Glasgow, Clydebank developed from a small village into a major shipbuilding centre in the 19th Century. Originally known as Barns o' Clyde, its name was changed in 1882 to Clydebank, the name of a shipyard established by J & G Thomson at Govan in 1851 which had moved here in 1872. In 1899, Thomson's yard was taken over by John Brown & Co. and went on to produce famous ships including the Lusitania (1906), Queen Mary (1934), Queen Elizabeth (1938) and the Queen Elizabeth II or QE2 (1967). It also built notable warships, such as HMS Hood, the aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable and the Royal Navy's last battleship HMS Vanguard. Struggling from the 1960s, the yard finally closed in 2000. The neighbouring Dalmuir Shipyard of William Beardmore & Co, which opened in 1900, also built warships until the end of the First World War, as well as submarines and aircraft. Thereafter it built oil tankers and the ill-fated RMS Lancastria (1920) but closed in 1931, a casualty of the Depression. The site became an armaments factory during World War II which operated until the 1960s. Other industries associated with the early development of the town were engineering, distilling and the manufacture of chemicals. The remarkable US-owned Singer sewing machine factory opened in 1884 and its clock-tower once dominated the town-centre. It was the largest factory in Europe in the 1950s, employing 17,000 workers, but closed in 1979 and was demolished the following year.

In March 1941 two air raids resulted in more than 500 dead, the destruction of more than one-third of the town's houses and 96 percent of the population had to be evacuated for a time.

Notable buildings in Clydebank include the Town Hall and Municipal Buildings (1902), Library (1913), Clyde Shopping Centre (1982) and the Golden Jubilee National Hospital (1994), together with the Titan Crane, a massive structure that once towered over the shipyards and which opened as a tourist attraction in 2007. Clydebank also has an Industrial Park, a College of Further Education and a Business Creation Centre.

Clydebank was at the heart of 'Red Clydeside' - a reputation gained through figures such as Arthur MacManus (1889 - 1927), central to the Singer Strike of 1911 and the first Chairman of the Communist Party of Great Britain; David Kirkwood (1872 - 1955), who had worked in the shipyards, became a radical Labour Member of Parliament and supported the Clydebank Rent Strike in the 1920s; and Jimmy Reid (b.1932) a Communist Councillor in Clydebank who became famous as one of the organisers of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-in (1971-72). Other famous 'Bankies' include TV-vet Eddie Straiton (1917 - 2004), actor James Cosmo (b.1948), entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne (b.1949) and singer Marti Pellow (b.1965). Veteran actor and broadcaster Nicholas Parsons spent five years in the town in the 1930s working in the shipyards.


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