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Clydeside Pride (Glasgow)

Clydeside Pride (Glasgow)

Mike Gerrard - 2007-12-14

Glasgow's fortune was made from trading and shipbuilding on the River Clyde. Such was the volume of trade that poured in and out of the river that Glasgow was known as the 'second city of the British Empire'. Neglect followed when the Empire declined, but today the tide is turning and people are looking to the river again with pride.

As in other great port cities - like Bristol, Liverpool, London and Newcastle - Glasgow's river was once the focus of everyone's attention. Here wealth was created by trade - until the world changed in the last half of the 20th century when riverfronts became run-down, and warehouses stood silent and crumbling. Then, as has happened on the Avon, Mersey, Thames and Tyne, people looked at the waterfront with new eyes, and Glasgow's Clydeside began its slow transformation.
 
An unmissable landmark is the Glasgow Tower - at 300ft, this is the tallest free-standing building in Scotland. At the top are the fine views you would expect - provided that the notably wet Glasgow climate co-operates.
 
At the bottom you will find the entrance to the Glasgow Science Centre, which opened in 2001. Wet or dry, this is the place to bring children. Four floors have hundreds of hands-on challenges for youngsters, with hopefully an educational element too. You can see how much water you use in the course of a day, design dance routines on computers, and visit the Space Theatre planetarium or the IMAX theatre.
 
Across the river from here and linked by footbridges are two very contrasting sights. Look to the left and you see the graceful masts of the Glenlee, a tall-masted sailing ship built on the Clyde in 1896. Glenlee has been round the world four times; today, back in her birthplace, Glenlee gives visitors a glimpse of the tough and cramped life the sailors had to endure on board.
 
Discover the river
 
The first section of the Riverside Walkway at Glasgow Harbour has opened. It will eventually incorporate 4 million cobblestones dating back to Victorian Glasgow. While the city's riverside attractions are not yet linked by a single walkway, there are stretches of the river that can be walked or cycled. And by using the city's excellent hop on/hop off tourist buses and maybe a taxi ride too (you can take a full taxi tour of Glasgow, if you like), all the riverside sights are accessible.
Further out at Braehead is the Clydebuilt, a museum devoted to the story of Glasgow and its river. Part of the Scottish Maritime Museum, it features the oldest vessel built in the Clyde shipyards still afloat today. Next door is the Braehead Shopping Centre, one of the biggest in Scotland.
 
The best way to see the river, of course, is getting onto the water. If you are here between Easter and October and have a full day to spare, take a trip on the Waverley, the last ocean-going paddle steamer in the world. This will take you on a journey out beyond the mouth of the river to the isles of Butte and Arran - tracing a journey that was once the popular summer excursion for Glaswegians, as they took a trip 'doon the watter'.
 
Alternatively, take a seaplane. Last summer Loch Lomond Seaplanes launched a new service that will whisk you from their terminal at the Glasgow Science Center to Oban in the West Highlands in just 24 minutes, with spectacular views of Scotland's mountains, lochs and western coast along the way.
 
Look to the right from the Science Centre and you will see the futuristic shape of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, known as the SECC for short and as the Armadillo by Glasgow's residents - and it is easy to see why.
 
Designed by Sir Norman Foster and opened in 1997, it was inspired by the famous Sydney Opera House and is an eye-catching addition to the new riverside development. Plans are underway for a new £62 million arena, also designed by Foster and Partners, to open on the SECC site in 2011.
 
Adjacent to the SECC, the Clyde Arc which opened earlier this year is the first new road bridge over the River Clyde since 1969. Its unusual design has already earned it a local nickname: the 'Squinty Bridge'. And the waterfront rejuvenation will continue westward for years to come with Glasgow Harbour, a development of homes, businesses, shopping and entertainment that will include a new Riverside Museum due to open in 2010.
 
PRACTICAL INFORMATION
 
Glasgow Science Centre/Glasgow Tower
50 Pacific Quay
Tel: 0141 420 5000
www.glasgowsciencecentre.org

The Tall Ship Glenlee
100 Stobcross Road
Glasgow Harbour
Tel: 0141 222 2513
www.glenlee.co.uk

Clydebuilt (Scottish Maritime Museum at Braehead)
King's Inch Road
Tel: 0141 886 1013
www.scottishmaritimemuseum.org/renfrew.htm

The Waverley
Waverley Terminal
Anderston Quay
Tel: 0845 130 4647
 
Loch Lomond Seaplanes
Tel 0870 242 1457 or 01436 675030

Glasgow's fortune was made from trading and shipbuilding on the River Clyde. Such was the volume of trade that poured in and out of the river that Glasgow was known as the 'second city of the British Empire'. Neglect followed when the Empire declined, but today the tide is turning and people are looking to the river again with pride.

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