Clydebank was founded as a Police burgh on 18 November 1886. Thomson's Ship Builders (1871) and Beardmores (1860 Clyde Navigation Trust) where among the first shipyards in the town. These yards eventually became some of the most important ship building yards in the 20th century in the region in and around Glasgow. John Brown's – home of the great Cunard Line – being a fine example. Additionally, the American Singer Corporation opened between 1884 and 1885 had the honour of housing the largest clock face in the world. Singer was the site of an important strike in March-April 1911, during which its 11,000 workers stopped working. In 1941, the town was largely destroyed in the Clydebank Blitz as well as close by maryhill in Glasgow.
The town has a large shopping centre which is divided in two by the Forth and Clyde Canal which runs through the town. The town is also a place of learning, culture and nightlife. The popular Scottish band Wet Wet Wet formed in Clydebank in 1982.
Duntocher, Hardgate and Faifley are part of Clydebank however as each was annexed to the town during the existence of the former burgh and district councils, these three areas continue to have fairly strong local identities separate from that of the town.
In the early 20th century the town was synonymous with the Scottish socialist movements led by the shipyard workers along the river Clyde, giving rise to the title of Red Clydeside, a mishmash of socialists, trade unionists and nationalists.
The 11,000 workers at the largest factory of Singer sewing machines factory went in strike in March-April 1911, ceasing to work in solidarity of 12 female colleagues protesting against work process reorganization. Following the end of the strike, Singer fired 400 workers, including all strike leaders and purported members of the IWGB, among whom Arthur McManus, who later went on to become the first chairman of the CPGB between 1920 and 1922 .
Labour unrest, in particular by women and unskilled labour, greatly increased between 1910-1914 in Clydeside, with four times more days on strike than between 1900 and 1910. During these four years preceding World War I, membership of those affiliated to the Scottish Trades Union Congress rose from 129,000 in 1909 to 230,000 in 1914 .
It is the generally held belief of residents that Clydebank has far more common interests with the rest of the Glasgow Settlement or Greater Glasgow city-region than they do with detached areas of West Dunbartonshire, though others believe that the historical connection to Dunbartonshire is important in maintaining Clydebank's independent identity from the City of Glasgow. As stated previously the town borders but is not part of the local authority area called the City of Glasgow, although as the boundary falls between neighbouring houses its existence is fairly irrelevant in terms of people's use of housing, employment and transport. The town is part of a single urban area (officially the Glasgow City Metropolitan Area) with the terms Glasgow and Greater Glasgow often used interchangeably, with context being important to establish meaning. This Glasgow City Metropolitan Area includes places falling within the limits of the following local authorities: West Dunbartonshire (Clydebank), all of East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, all of East Renfrewshire and all of the City of Glasgow. These areas form a single health service area, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Like these areas, most of Clydebank uses the Glasgow telephone area code "0141", however the northern & western portions of the Clyebank area use "01389". The G81 postcode is the most widely used in the area, but the Bowling and Old Kilpatrick areas of the town use G60.
The new Clydebank Football Club have a sizeable support - regularly attracting crowds of 400-1,200 for home matches - attendances that exceed those regularly achieved in the Scottish League Divisions 2 and 3.
Yoker Athletic FC (one of the oldest football clubs in Scotland)also have a small but committed support - bolstered by "bumper crowds" achieved when playing home matches against Clydebank FC
Clydebank also boasts a Rugby Football Club based in Whitecrook. The club was founded in 1969 by local lads who decided to form a local club on 29th May 1969. Their first game was played at Whitecrook on Monday 1st September 1969 against a Presidents XV captained by Richard Alan of Hutchesons and Scotland and they have continued to play at the same venue ever since. The club play in red and black and regularly field two XVs.
A major employer in the town was John Brown & Company shipyard, which built several well-known ships, including the Hood, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Elizabeth 2. Later it became part of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, which was the scene of a famous "work-in" in the 1970s.
Singer Corporation was also a major industry in Clydebank, giving thousands of jobs to the townsfolk but has since closed, with Clydebank Business Park where its famous building used to stand (next to where Singer railway station is now).
The town is home to the independent Clydebank Co-operative Society which has a number of outlets in the town.
The Burgh of Clydebank adopted an unofficial coat of arms in 1892, when it was required to obtain a common seal by the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892. The design was described disparagingly by Arthur Charles Fox-Davies as a fine healthy specimen of home-made heraldry.
The design comprised a shield surmounted by a mural crown, above which was a helm bearing a wreath and crest. In the centrepiece of the shield was a Lennox Cross representative of the ancient Earls of Lennox. In chief position was a sewing machine representing the Singer Corporation and in base position "on the waves of the sea" was a representation of the battleship HMS Ramillies built at J & G Thomson's Clydebank Shipyard in 1892. In the dexter fess position was a stag's head taken from the coat of arms of shipbuilder James Rodger Thomson, the first Provost of the Burgh. In sinister fess position there was a lion rampant taken from the coat of arms of local landowner, Alexander Dunn Pattison of Dalmuir.
The crest was a garb or wheatsheaf representing the agricultural interests of the area.
The Latin motto below the shield was Labore et Scientia or by work and by knowledge.
In 1929 there was a concerted campaign by the office of Lord Lyon King of Arms to ensure that all burghs using unmatriculated arms regularised their position, and more than fifty burghs registered arms between 1929 and 1931. This led to Clydebank's arms being matriculated on 6 February 1930. The 1930 grant was almost identical to the 1892 device.
In 1975 the burgh was abolished, becoming part of larger Clydebank District, and the burgh arms went out of use. Clydebank District Council was granted new arms on 3 September 1975. This consisted of a red saltire on a white field for the ancient province of Lennox and for the town's more recent historic links to Ireland which previously used the same flag. The cog-wheel symbolised all the local industries and the demi-figure of Saint Patrick referred to Old Kilpatrick, a burgh of barony from 1672, and where the saint is reputed to have been born. A representation of part of the Roman Antonine Wall was included as the Wall and Roman forts at Old Kilpatrick and Greenhill were features common to the burgh and to the villages in the District. The lymphad (galley ship) was for Clyde shipbuilding. The burgh motto was retained. At the request of the district council, the arms were rematriculated on 19 April 1985 with the addition of a dove of peace in the centre of the saltire. The coat of arms went out of use in 1996 with the abolition of the District Council. In 1998 the successor West Dunbartonshire Council was granted very similar arms.