North Bute Literary Society: Memories of the Clyde are re-Lit

Upper Clyde Shipbuilders shop steward Jimmy Reid
Upper Clyde Shipbuilders shop steward Jimmy Reid

At the first Bute Literary Society meeting of 2019, president Douglas Allan exemplified the ethos of the Literary Society movement by ‘educating and entertaining’ the members in equal measure.

Filling in as speaker at short notice he took us on a journey from the source of the Clyde in the Borders near Sanquhar to the Tail O’ the Bank.

Anecdotes and snippets of history helped us along through the Clyde valley, reminding us of the social and industrial changes of the 18th and 19th centuries at the cotton mills of New Lanark, and much more recently to the 1960s demolition of Bothwellhaugh Village prior to the site being submerged through the creation of the lake at Strathclyde Country Park.

Douglas used the well-known phrase “Glasgow made the Clyde and the Clyde made Glasgow” to introduce some observations on the great city.

These ranging from the first steamie erected on Glasgow Green in 1732 to the current Clyde Waterfront Regeneration projects.

He showed the group fascinating slides of some of the Glasgow bridges, ferries, tunnels and the frantically busy docksides and shipyards throughout the city and down to Renfrew, Dumbarton and Greenock.

Many memories of the River Clyde were stirred with slides of, for example, the Garden Festival in 1988, the Renfrew to Yoker chain ferry, and George Wyllie’s iconic art installations.

We also glimpsed into the future with the plans for the Greenock Princess Pier and Ocean Terminal.

Douglas also reminded us of people and politics connected to the Clyde– Jack House (Mr Glasgow), David Livingstone born at Blantyre in 1813, Jimmy Reid and the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, and 100 years ago this month in George Square the Riot Act being read to a huge crowd led by Manny Shinwell.

This short report can only indicate the breadth and scope of the topics Douglas touched on in his very entertaining and educational talk.

Our next meeting topic is to be ‘The Prehistoric Stones of Kilmartin Glen’, tomorrow (Tuesday January 22).