Water Row The Dawn of Govan's Third Era of Greatness


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Visioning a Culturally and Community planned heart to Govan


There is a shared belief that this site, Water Row and the river frontage and the land currently used as a carpark should again have a special place and purpose within Govan, and Scotland, as it has throughout its two past medieval and industrial eras of greatness. In opposing the current plans, we are envisioning a more inspired and sustainable future for the space.

The assets to the Water Row site are vast and unrealised, both in terms of 1) unmet community requirements, infrastructure, public realm and place-making strategies & 2) heritage, tourism, and cultural assets

Surely a community engagement process, to plan and visualise potential uses for the site would be vastly cheaper than creating a car park, leading to a more appropriate/sustainable solution for the area? The car park may indeed create revenue, however in terms of lasting value the detrimental  cost of tarmacing  without thorough consideration for the community’s requirements and significance of this site, negates cash flow benefits from what is proposed to be ‘temporary’ pay and display.

A careful balancing and intent of purpose needs to be addressed, incorporating elements from history into a well integrated vision for the area, at the same time as offering community facilities that make significant improvements to the areas safety, well being, and social, economic fabric.

Facilitated and meaningful engagement within the community, and with the relevant experts and stake-holders, in the area should be central in establishing potential uses for this site and encouraging a community led visioning exercise.

An opportunity also exists for engagement to be at the heart of a future Community Development trust that would put local people at the centre of place making decisions.

We realise that the current status is critical and that a change of course is urgently required bringing together various parties to initiate ideas of what would be best for this site. The supposed temporary nature of the carpark needs to be questioned… Is it not likely that once implemented this car park will remain for many years?

An engagement and consultation process undertaken by those already working within the community could  be complimented with a competition such as the Glasgow Institute of  Architects ‘people and places’ competition that an expression of interest was successfully made for last year! Govan has a strong voice and  ‘place-changing’ ideas from within the community are springing into action. This site symbolises the potential for a lasting positive impact at the heart of this neighbourhood, and  deserves better than  being merely a facilitator to the dominance of polluting motor cars!

Carpark proposal - is this what Govan wants ?

GIA WaterRow Comp proposal web







Act Now to Save Water Row for Govan’s Future

Glasgow City Council contractors are now working on Water Row – they are excavating deep trenches in areas of significant archaeological importance, removing historical material and preparing to tarmac over the historical heart of Govan.

This work is being carried out in a conservation area, no neighbours have been notified and significant doubt exists about whether GCC actually owns the land they are currently occupying/desecrating. Glasgow City Council has a duty to protect and enhance the character and appearance of these areas. This current activity is risking permanent damgage to the original ferry slipway, without any concern for the archeological, and heritage assets which will be irretrievable once this resurfacing is complete. The removal of original cobbles, restriction of access and further intention to proceed with tarmacing for a carpark on the entire site can only be  described as vandalism that ignores what is in Govan’s best interests, and disrespects the unique story of this land, its people, and their future.

Deep trenching and excavation work around the historical Govan Ferry Slipway underway at Water Row

Current activity on site sees the resurfacing of Water Row over sensitive historical land, Water Row and the old ferry slipway entirely replaced with new materials, as this proposal drawing shows. It is vital that a proper debate is held before it is too late for this land. The land here at the heart of Govan has huge potential in restoring a true sense of place for Govan and creating something special in the heart of Govan, rather than the loss of local identity and a car park! Bringing the bulldozers straight onto the site in such a way, risks damaging what remains of the original slipway, heritage assets and any chance for necessary archaeological investigations to be undertaken prior to any development taking place.


The Gallus Games 2014 – Eco Stadium

Over the last year, I have been working with City Design Coop to find a site for our temporary Eco-stadium. We wanted somewhere with good public transport links and a vibrant community with big ambitions for the area.

The Gallus Games has chosen to become part of a local strategy to explore new uses for the site at Water Row. Our stadium design has been informed by the history of Doomster hill, and hopes to use local metal and woodworking skills.

The Eco-Stadium will show an alternative use for the site and encourage visitors to make the short ferry ride across from the Riverside Museum to see various attractions in the area. It is in the spirit of the Gallus Games to take inspiration from the iconic museum and aim to match it’s ambition and excitement. In the words of a Govan man I met at the water’s edge “People will look across the river and say – Hey, lets go and see what’s going on over there”

Kathy Friend, Creative Director


Visioning for Water Row

Historical Visioning of Water Row

Glasgow based Architects Edo Architecture have been commissioned to help the local community map  the site  of  Water Row and to create it’s own vision for use of its heritage. The focus currently is about saving – as a first strike – the very thing that attracted settlement at Govan in the first place, it’s safe pedestrian route to the river and the natural crossing point via the slipway.

Historical Visioning for the Site of Water Row

‘Alongside Doomster Hill Stood Water Row, which consisted of a group of buildings positioned either side of a stone slipway offering access to and safe crossing of the River Clyde. Alongside the Ferry Inn, where you awaited the ebb of the tide there were fisherman’s cottages, boatbuilder’s houses and weaving sheds. These all had a natural relationship with the crossing point.

Proposed GCC Resurfacing Work on Water Row

Alternative Route to The Ferry

The new Govan Ferry Pontoon needs to be accessible – However is there another option rather than resurfacing Water Row and covering over the Slipway, Govan Row and the Processional Way. A possible alternative option could be extending the already existing Napier Road down to the Govan Ferry. Allowing access to the ferry and avoiding the historical site of Water Row.

Proposed Temporary Community Garden at Water Row 

Edo Architecture have proposed the development of a  temporary community garden at Water Row. The garden could host the market, contain archaeology interpretive pods, a pavillion and growing space in the heart of Govan.



Urban Realm Magazine features Water Row

The new issue of Urban Realm magazine came out last week and contains a 4 page feature on the issues surrounding Govan’s Water row and the debate about how best to determine the future of this crucial site for the community and the City as a whole.

The article was written by Tom Manley and contains contributions from two of the foremost authorities on Govan’s early mediaeval history Professor Stephen Driscoll and Tim Clarkson

Water Row – Urban Realm

You can obtain a copy of the magazine from the Urban Realm website – also see an earlier feature on Govan in UR (also by Tom Manley) – here


GalGael – The New Shipbuilders

When folk talk about the need for a slipway into the Clyde at Govan, this is not just nostalgia – the GalGael Trust are one of the most high-profile community organisations in Glasgow. They are based in Govan and they build boats…..if they need to launch a boat into the Clyde, then currently, their nearest slip is the privately owned slipway at the new Riverside Museum.

It is an incredible but true fact that Govan, the birthplace of shipbuilding on the Upper Clyde no longer has a launching place for even a small craft.

The GalGael Trust workshops in Fairley Street

Visit the GalGael website – here

Imagine a future for Water Row where the GalGael workshops are relocated around the restored Govan Ferry Slipway and next door to an working centre for the world famous Govan Stones


News »

Stepping in the right direction – the Council no longer proposing to formalise the eastern section of Water Row site as a pay & display carpark
Stepping in the right direction – the Council no longer proposing to formalise the eastern section of Water Row site as a pay & display carpark

It is heartening to see that progress is being made and a much more positive future for this land at

More in News

Press »

Urban Realm Magazine features Water Row
Urban Realm Magazine features Water Row

The new issue of Urban Realm magazine came out last week and contains a 4 page feature on the issues

More in Press

Events »

Ghost of Water Row – 5th November 2012
Ghost of Water Row – 5th November 2012

  Water Row has always sat at the heart of Govan. It’s a route to a crossing of the water

More in Events

Proposals »

Visioning a Culturally and Community planned heart to Govan
Visioning a Culturally and Community planned heart to Govan

HEART CENTRED VISIONING MAKES HARD HEADED SENSE There is a shared belief that this site, Water Row a

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History »

Reconvening the Parliament on Doomster Hill, Govan, 31 March 2012
Seeds for the Future – Govan Parliament 31.03.2012

The final event of last years Climate Challenge Funded Govan Together project, on March 31st, includ

More in History