Waverley and Balmoral in Glasgow
Waverley is at her normal berth, which used to be known as No 83 Plantation Quay when this part of the River Clyde was still a working port, and Balmoral is at a berth that used to form the east side of the entrance channel to the former Princes Dock.
Following a spell in the James Watt Dock at Greenock for completion of her winter refit work MV Balmoral made her way up to Glasgow a couple of days ago to join Waverley adjacent to Glasgow Science Centre. Recently Waverley was canted to berth bow downriver in preparation for her first sailing of the 2012 season, next Friday 1st June, when she will sail from Glasgow to Oban. It is the first time that Waverley and Balmoral have been in Glasgow together for over 20 years (Balmoral was based at Glasgow during her first few years with WEL). Both vessels were basking in the wall-to-wall sunshine and temperatures up to 29°C over the past week. Let’s hope they experience a lot of this type of weather in the next four and a half months, it could be critical in determining the longer term viability of the ships.
Balmoral’s berth is in a channel that once formed the entrance to the busy Princes Dock (and as a result was not an actual berth when the Princes Dock was in operation. There used to be a Clyde Navigation Trust harbour control tower at the end of this quay. This could be quite a busy area. Apart from the traffic up and down the river and into / out of the two docks the Princess dock canting basin was used for access to the large No 3 Govan Graving Dock. In the days before GPS, radar, AIS , mobile phones (or any phones) or radio the CNT port controllers in several control towers along the river and using semaphore and ‘loud-hailers’ performed a crucial role in preventing collisions in Glasgow’s very busy docklands. At its peak in the days prior to WWI the Clyde Trust regularly recorded in excess of 16,000 ship movements per annum on the River Clyde between Greenock Customhouse Quay and Glasgow Customhouse Quay. I think the Princes Dock control tower was there until circa 1986-87 (suddenly these old dock structures, that became very familiar over the years, disappeared and you couldn’t actually remember when it had happened).
Nowadays the Queens Dock has disappeared without trace – it was infilled using rubble from many of the Glasgow tenement dwellings that had been damaged in the great hurricane of 14th January 1968, together with some of the city’s lost architectural gems including the huge Glasgow & South Western Railway hotel at its St Enoch terminus station. Queen’s Dock took almost 10 years to excavate and construct in the 1870s and probably about half that time to fill in just over a century later. The site now hosts the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre (opened 1986, the Crowne Plaza Hotel (1989), the Clyde Auditorium (or Armadillo as it is known, colloquially) and, from next year, the huge 12,000 seat Scottish Hydro Arena which is now under construction on the area occupied by the the east end of the north basin of Queens Dock.
Princes Dock was excavated in the late 1890s, construction being accelerated by using sunken concrete cylinders rather than vertical wooden and steel piles. The Plantation Quay wall at which Waverley berths is a replacement. The original wall was (still is) some 10+ feet further south (towards) the dock. When the original wall partly collapsed a new quay wall was built further out in the river and the space between it and the original wall was filled in – you can still see the ends of the numerous steel tie rods that anchor the new wall back into the original ground behind the first wall.
Prior to the excavation of the Princes Dock, Plantation Quay continued right down to the entrance of the No 2 Govan Drydock. The berth just outside the No 2 dock was No 85 Plantation Quay, a name that it retained after the construction of the Princes Dock even though it was effectively cut-off from the remainder by the excavation of the channel in which Balmoral is berthed.
The name Pacific Quay which is now used to describe this area is a modern ‘invention of the post-industrial regeneration developers, bearing no significance to the former days as part of the working port.
Yorkhill Basin (West Basin) on the map below, was infilled in 2007 and the resulting extra ground space forms car park space for a new museum built on the grounds of A & J Inglis’ Pointhouse shipyard where Waverley was built.
[signature name=”Stuart Cameron”]