Greenock

Greenock

[gree-nuhk, gren-uhk]
Greenock, city (1991 pop. 58,436), Inverclyde, W Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde. Greenock is a port, and shipping and shipbuilding are major industries. Others include engineering, textile manufacturing, sugar refining, and the production of office equipment. Greenock is the birthplace of James Watt, the discoverer of steam power. Robert Burns's "Highland Mary" (Mary Campbell) was buried in the cemetery of North Kirk. The church (founded 1591) with windows by William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, D. G. Rossetti, and Ford Madox Brown, was removed to nearby Seafield to make room for expanding shipyards.

Greenock (Gaelic Grianaig, ) is a large town and former burgh of barony in the Inverclyde council area of western Scotland. It forms part of a contiguous urban area with Gourock to the west and Port Glasgow to the east.

Greenock's population was recorded as being 45,467 in the 2001 census, a decrease from about 78,000 in 1966. It lies on the south bank of the Clyde at the "Tail of the Bank" where the River Clyde expands into the Firth of Clyde, and is in what was the county of Renfrewshire.

History

Name

The origin of the town's name is uncertain. It is generally accepted, however, that the town is named after the Gaelic "Grianaig" meaning a sunny place. The suggestion that the town's name comes from the words "Green Oak" is unfounded, but the image has been taken as a logo for the town's main shopping centre, The Oak Mall and was once emblazoned on the local Co-operative Society emblem. The story that 'Greenock' derives from 'Green Oak' is also perpetrated in a local song (The Green Oak Tree) and in the fact that the local dialect makes virtually no distinction between the syllables -ock and -oak. Significantly, no green oak appears on the town's coat of arms which features three sugar caskets, a sailing ship in full sail and three herring above the motto God Speed Greenock.

Early history

The area on which Greenock was founded included two estates: Cartsburn and Easter Greenock and Wester Greenock. Cartsburn and Easter Greenock had existed as a single estate since the rule of Mary Queen of Scots. A small fishing village was established there sometime prior 1592. By 1670 a Crown Charter united the estates as the Burgh and Barony of Greenock. It was quickly established as a port, and was the location for the second voyage as part of the ill-fated Darien Scheme. This fleet left on August 18 1699 arriving in Panama on 30 November with the majority of its passengers diseased or dead. After the Act of Union 1707, Greenock's facilities made it the main port on the West Coast and it prospered due to trade with the Americas, importing sugar from the Caribbean.

In 1827 Loch Thom was constructed as a reservoir with The Cut, aqueduct, bringing water to power industry.

Greenock Central railway station at Cathcart Street opened in 1841, for the first time providing a fast route from Glasgow to the coast linking up with Clyde steamer services. The provision of this new line eliminated the necessity of taking the steamer all the way down river from Glasgow. In 1869 the Caledonian Railway was bypassed by the rival Glasgow and South Western Railway which opened a station on the waterfront at Princes Pier. To regain custom, the Caledonian Railway extended (what is now known as the Inverclyde Line) the Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock Railway west to Gourock; this line was built to run inland through deep cuttings and tunnels to avoid disturbance to the villas of Greenock's west end.

Prosperity

The Greenock Custom House building was designed by William Burn in 1818 and is considered by many to be the finest in Britain. It underwent refurbishment which was completed in 1989 and now houses a customs and excise museum which is open to the public on weekdays. In June 2008 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced that the building would close in 2011 as part of a rationalisation project with any jobs being transferred to offices in Glasgow. In response staff, their union PCS and local politicians have organised a campaign to oppose HMRCs plans.

Victoria Tower

Greenock's increasing importance and wealth was manifested in the construction of the Italianate Municipal Buildings, whose Victoria Tower, completed in 1886, stands 245 feet (74.7 m) tall. Begun five years previously in a competition won by architects H. & D. Barclay, it audaciously trumps the tower of the contemporaneous Glasgow City Chambers by more than a metre. It remains uncompleted, however. A local businessman called Robert Cowan refused to sell his building in front of the tower for less than his own price, preventing completion of the right hand façade of the southern elevation.

Villas

Further evidence of this wealth can be seen in the large villas of Greenock's west end, one time home to the ship owners, industrialists and investors. The area is fronted by the mile long (1.6 km) sweep of the Esplanade with its views across the Clyde to Kilcreggan which almost convinces the visitor that no heavy industry could have been anywhere nearby.

Battery Park and torpedoes

At Fort Matilda railway station the tunnel emerged near the coast, and the excavated material was used as landfill to the west of the old coastal gun emplacement of Fort Matilda, forming a level area which became the playing fields of Battery Park.

In 1907 the Admiralty compulsory purchased part of this land and constructed the Clyde Torpedo Factory, which opened in 1910, with 700 workers transferred from the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. The site was tasked with designing and testing of torpedoes. These were then tested in Loch Long. During the Second World War the site switched entirely to manufacturing torpedoes. The original gun battery site was occupied by the Navy Buildings, the main offices, just to the east of the torpedo factory buildings.

Old West Kirk

A church had been established in Greenock in 1591 under the patronage of John Schaw, the first built in Scotland since the Reformation. In 1926, to make way for expansion of the Harland & Wolff shipyard (the present-day location of Container Way), the Old West Kirk was relocated to a new site on the Esplanade where it still stands. The church is notable for its stained glass, whose artists include Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

Second World War

Greenock suffered badly during the Second World War and its anchorage at the Tail of the Bank became the base for the Home Fleet as well as the main assembly point for Atlantic convoys. On 30 April 1940 the French Vauquelin class destroyer Maillé Brézé blew up off Greenock with heavy loss of life following an accident involving two of her own torpedoes. Although this disaster occurred before the Free French Naval Forces were established, many people tend to regard the Cross of Lorraine on Lyle Hill as a memorial to the loss of the Maillé Brézé as well as to the later losses of the Free French naval vessels which sailed from the town. On the nights of 6 May and 7 May 1941 around 300 Luftwaffe aircraft attacked the town in the Greenock Blitz. A large building housing a drapery business constructed on Cowan's property at the corner of the Municipal Buildings was badly damaged and was demolished, leaving the blank brick corner area still known as "Cowan's Corner".

Postwar years

Greenock thrived in the post-war years but as the heavy industries declined in the 1970s and 1980s unemployment became a major problem, and it has only been in the last ten years with reinvestment and the redevelopment of large sections of the town that the local economy has started to revive. Tourism has also appeared as an unexpected bonus with the development of the Clydeport Container Terminal as an Ocean Terminal for cruise ships crossing the Atlantic. Students who do not travel further afield for study often attend the James Watt College of Further and Higher Education.

Greenock reached its population peak in 1921 (81,123) and was once the sixth largest town in Scotland.

Governance

Until 1974 Greenock was a parliamentary burgh in its own right. It was merged with Port Glasgow to form Greenock and Port Glasgow constituency. In 1997 it became Greenock and Inverclyde. After the redistribution of Scottish seats it was merged into an enlarged Inverclyde constituency- the first time in political history that Greenock has not been named in a parliamentary seat. Greenock and Inverclyde remains a Scottish Parliament constituency.

Health

The Inverclyde Royal Hospital is located in Greenock serving both the population of the town and wider area including Port Glasgow, Gournock and the Isle of Bute.

Ravenscraig Hospital is also located in Greenock dealing with pyschiatric, day patients, referrals and specialised prescribing.

Geography

Areas and suburbs

Arran View, Bogston, Bow Farm, Braeside, Branchton, Bridgend, Broomhill, Cartsburn, Cornhaddock, Fancy Farm, Fort Matilda, Gibshill, Greenock West, Grieve Hill, Hole Farm, Larkfield, Lyle Hill, Lynedoch Overton, Pennyfern, Strone, Strone Farm, and Whinhill.

Economy

Historically, the town relied on shipbuilding, sugar refining and wool manufacturing for employment, but none of these industries are today part of Greenock's economy. More recently the town relied heavily on electronics manufacture. However this has given way mostly to call centre business, insurance, banking and shipping export.

Shipbuilding

In the early 17th century, the first pier was built in Greenock. Shipbuilding was already an important employer by this time. The first proper harbour was constructed in 1710 and the first well-known shipbuilders, Scott's, was established the following year. It was the oldest shipbuilding business in the world and gained numerous contracts with the Royal Navy from 1806, building ships such as the Prince of Wales.

Scott's was nationalised in 1969 and merged with Lithgow's (founded 1874, later the largest privately owned yard in the world) the same year becoming Scott Lithgow. Other yards included Cartsburn, Cartsdyke, and Klondyke - all of which closed during the 1970s and 1980s due to competition from South Korea and Japan.

The site of the Scott's yard is now occupied by a T-Mobile call centre.

Ship repair work continues at the Garvel dry dock.

Shipping

Freight traffic is handled at the container cranes of Greenock's Ocean Terminal, at Prince's Pier which was constructed for the Glasgow and South Western Railway. The same terminal is also a regular port of call for cruise liners visiting the west of Scotland.

Greenock's Great Harbour is one of the three main ports providing marine services support to the Royal Navy, in dual site operation with Faslane at HMNB Clyde on the Gare Loch. This formerly came under the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service, but is currently operated by Serco Denholm, who are preferred bidders for the next contract. This facility means that "Admiralty" boats and tugs are a common sight on the Clyde.

Greenock's attractive esplanade provides a gently curving riverside walk just over a mile (1.6 km) long extending to the west from Ocean Terminal to the Royal West Boat Club sailing and rowing facilities and clubhouse at the corner of the Navy Buildings which house a main Her Majesty's Coastguard centre as well as a Royal Naval Reserve establishment, HMS Dalriada.

Sugar

Sugar refining began in Greenock in 1765. John Walker began a sugar refinery in Greenock in 1850 followed by the prominent local cooper and shipowner Abram Lyle who, with four partners, purchased the Glebe Sugar Refinery in 1865. Another 12 refineries were active at one point. The most famous of these (and successful, being the only survivor until August 1997) was Tate & Lyle. It was formed from a merger in 1921 between Abram Lyle, who had expanded into Plaistow, and Henry Tate, who had set up a sugar refinery in Liverpool and had also expanded into London.

By the end of the 19th century, around 400 ships a year were transporting sugar from Caribbean holdings to Greenock for processing in the 14 sugar refineries. Tobacco from the Americas also arrived here.

When Tate and Lyle finally closed its Greenock refinery in 1997 it brought to an end the town's 150-year old connections with sugar manufacture. A newly built sugar warehouse continued shipping operations at Greenock's Ocean Terminal. The former sugar warehouse at the James Watt Dock was by then scheduled as a grade A listed building as a fine example of early industrial architecture, with an unusual feature of a colonnade of cast iron columns forming a sheltered unloading area next to the quayside. This building has since lain empty, with various schemes being proposed for conversion and restoration. The photographs show the building still intact in February 2006, but a fire on the evening of 12 June 2006 caused severe damage to much of the building before being brought under control in the early hours of 13 June. The local council confirmed that parts of the building will have to be taken down to ensure public safety, but promised an investigation and emphasised the importance of this world heritage building.

Electronics

Since IBM arrived in the town in 1951, electronics and light manufacturing have, until recently, been the mainstay of local employment. National Semiconductor has also run a silicon wafer manufacturing plant in the town since 1970.

However, with manufacturing moving to Eastern Europe and Asia, work has shifted to the service sector, especially call centres. T-Mobile and IBM both have major call centre operations in Greenock, while the Royal Bank of Scotland Mortgage Centre processes Mortgage applications from throughout the UK & Ireland.

IBM have in recent years curtailed their operations greatly in the area. Sanmina, another electronics company, took over much of the IBM installation. As of 2006, Sanmina have themselves announced major cuts, with 370 jobs being moved to Hungary.

Sanmina has now shut and the remaining workers are being re-located.

Lenovo has now also re-located away from Greenock, and the plant is at 10% of the 1999/2000 capacity

As of 2008 the plant has now been scheduled for 'shutdown' with the remaining workers being 'relocated'

Trade and commerce

Greenock's main shopping throughfare was Hamilton Street, which connected West Blackhall Street in the west to Clyde Square in the east. In 1975 it disappeared along with several other streets as the area was pedestrianised as Hamilton Way. In the 1990s it was refurbished again, and The Oak Mall indoor shopping centre now forms the central feature of the town, and provides most of the major retail shops in Inverclyde, with approximately 85 units, with main anchor stores including Marks and Spencer, Woolworths, Boots, Primark and a newly opened New Look store. Both Marks and Spencer and Woolworths are in their original buildings (Marks and Spencer dating from 1936) which were simply built round during the first phase of pedestrianisation. In addition, two major supermarkets Tesco and Morrisons are sited nearby the mall. A further retail estate is located nearby, in front of the Waterfront swimming pool and leisure centre, and the streets around the mall provide a large number of smaller shops. Small groups of shops in most of the areas of the town provide for day to day needs, but most of the specialist shops are in the town centre. The town contains one diplomatic mission, an Italian consulate.

Transport

Greenock's most significant transportation connection is the Container Terminal (see above).

Greenock is Scotland's best served town in terms of railway stations. It boasts nine: Bogston, Cartsdyke, Greenock Central, Greenock West, Fort Matilda, Whinhill, Drumfrochar, Branchton and IBM Halt. Only Glasgow has a much greater number of stations and Edinburgh possesses only one more.

Greenock is located at the end of the A8 road/M8 motorway which begins in Edinburgh. It is also the northern terminus of Euroroute E05 which heads south through England, France and Spain, ending at the Spanish port of Algeciras which also possesses a container terminal.

Culture

The town has a daily evening newspaper, The Greenock Telegraph. It is one of the oldest daily local newspapers in the United Kingdom.

Greenock is fictionalised as 'Gantock' by Robin Jenkins in his 1979 novel Fergus Lamont (The Gantocks are in fact a rocky shoal in the Firth of Clyde nearby, just off Dunoon). Alasdair Gray's 1984 novel 1982, Janine is set in a Greenock hotel room. Greenock has featured in several of the poems of Douglas Dunn.

The Victorian landscape artist John Atkinson Grimshaw depicted a somewhat idealised Greenock in several of his paintings.

Greenock has featured as the backdrop to several films: the television films Just a Boy's Game (1979), , Down Where The Buffalo Go (1988) and Down Among the Big Boys (1993) and the theatrical films Sweet Sixteen (2002) and and Dear Frankie'' (2004),

Notable residents

Greenock's most noted son is the engineer James Watt. He is remembered in the name of the local college, at the library instituted in his memory and by the original James Watt Memorial College building on the site of his birth place in William Street which incorporates a commemorative statue.

Other famous Greenockians include: the composers Hamish MacCunn and William Wallace, musicians John McGeoch and Thomas Leer, poets Denis Devlin, W. S. Graham and Jean Adam, merchant Matthew Algie, actors Richard Wilson, Stella Gonet and Martin Compston, playwrights Bill Bryden and Peter McDougall, comedian Charles 'Chic' Murray, opera singer Hugh Enes Blackmore and Antarctic explorer Henry Robertson 'Birdie' Bowers.

Pirate William Kidd claimed on death row that he was born in Greenock, however subsequent evidence has shown that he was born either in Belfast or Dundee.

The novelist John Galt, noted for founding Guelph, Ontario in 1827, lived in the town and based some of his work, most notably Annals of the Parish (1821), on Greenock and surrounding towns. He is buried in the Inverkip Street Cemetery.

Lawrence Tynes, kicker for the New York Giants an American Football team in the NFL, originates from Greenock and has several family members still in the town. The British painter, William Scott (1913-1989) was born in Greenock and lived there with his family until 1924 when the family moved to Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The Oscar winning screenwriter, Neil Paterson (1916-1995) was born in Greenock, as was the radio and television presenter Jimmy Mack (1934-2004).

Catherine (Muir), a homemaker, was born in Greenock and immigrated to the United States as an eleven year-old. Catherine is known for being the mother of Emmy-winning American comedian and writer Jay Leno. Jay is best known as the host of NBC television's long-running variety and talk program The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Mary Campbell, Robert Burns' Highland Mary, is buried in Greenock Cemetery where there is a monument to her memory. Greenock is also home to the world's first Burns club, The Mother Club, which was founded in 1801.

Its most infamous resident is Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence officer and former head of Libyan Arab Airlines, who was convicted on 31 January 2001 of murder after causing a bomb to be placed on board Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988 with the loss of 270 lives. Megrahi was moved in February 2005 from solitary confinement in Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow to Greenock Prison, where he is expected to serve the rest of his 27-year sentence.

Another famous local resident was recently covered in an article by The Daily Telegraph and is known as "The Catman". He is a man of around 60 who lives wild.

Sports

Morton F.C. are the local football side who play at Cappielow Park. In addition, Greenock also plays host to a rugby union team, the Greenock Wanderers RFC , and is the home town of the Greenock Cricket Club

Climate

Greenock’s climate is temperate maritime having mainly cool summers but with relatively mild winters. Its location means that the heat retentive properties of seawater help keep winter temperatures higher. Additionally, the effect of the Gulf Stream on the Clyde helps Greenock's average temperature stay approximately one degree above that of eastern coastal towns on the same latitude.

Greenock anecdotally has the reputation for having higher than average rainfall (the song The Green Oak Tree comments on this) but this is not statistically true; the Western Highlands in fact has the highest average rainfall in Scotland.

Source: http://uk.weather.com/>

Twin cities

Greenock's twin cities are:

Gallery

External links

References

Further reading

  • Monteith, J (2004) Old Greenock
  • Snoddy, TG (1937) Round About Greenock
  • Weir, D (1827, r. 2004) History of the Town of Greenock

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