Meadowside Shipyard Offices

Tod and McGregor claimed to be the “fathers of iron shipbuilding on the Clyde” – in 1835, they launched the Vale of Leven, the first iron vessel actually built on the banks of the Clyde. Tod and McGregor had started out as foremen at Camlachie Foundry, and set out on thier own as marine engineers in 1834. Their first yard was further upriver, then they moved south of the river, before moving to a new, large site at Meadowfield where the River Kelvin joins the Clyde.

Here they built one of the first drydocks in Scotland, and also a slip dock for repairs. They built vessels for various companies including P&O – one notable ship was the City of Glasgow, the first screw-driven steamer to cross the Atlantic.

David and William Henderson, who owned an engineering works in Finnieston, bought the yard from Mr Tod Jr. in 1873 after the deaths of the original founders. The Henderson brothers were also partners in the Anchor Line, for whom they built 32 ships between 1876 and 1911, and they also built 19 ships for Lamport & Holt of Liverpool among others. Repair work also kept the yard busy, and they built prestigious racing yachts including Britannia in 1893 for the Prince of Wales.

The yard was bought by Harland & Wolff in 1917, but the depression between the wars did it for the yard, which closed in 1935. The drydock was filled in in the ’60s, and everything has been demolished apart from the offices, which have been occupied by several other companies but now lie empty. The above picture shows the Meadowside offices on the right, the Glasgow Harbour development which has recently replaced the enormous Meadowside granaries, and the (operational) Fairfields BAE Systems yard at Govan on the opposite bank. Inside, the office building would have been beautiful in it’s prime:

Most of the offices have been remodelled in the usual style of suspended ceilings and chipboard panels, but a few still keep their original features:

Since the yard closed over 70 years ago, I wasn’t holding out much hope for interesting paperwork, and first prospects weren’t good:

But then, crawling about in the attic, the shelves held out some hope:

And then, poking in pigeon shit under the eaves, some older paperwork – the first plans got my hopes up but they turned out to be building plans from the ’60s:

But then, bingo

19 Responses

  1. Hello
    Just spent a fascinating hour on your site. I am a chartered Building Surveyor and visiting old sites and buildings has given me a slightly melancholic fascination with dereliction all that artifice and investment gone to waste along with jobs and communities. The secret nature of many cold war and current military and some commercial installations is also very interesting.
    Thank you very much I shall visit again

  2. I inherited two large copper navigation lights one of which has a tag on it marked “Meadowside Works Partick” I am curious if you may have further information on such items.


  3. Interesting – well there’s obviously a connection to the Meadowside shipyard. As far as I know, yards didn’t make their own fittings very often, they were made by metalworking companies – I can’t find a record anywhere of a Meadowside Works, but there was Partick Iron Foundry right next to the shipyard, and Archibald Low & Sons brass foundry just across the road. So I’d guess the lights came from there.

  4. It’s fascinating to see inside this building as I live on the other side of the river directly opposite it and the waste land surrounding it. I see it everyday as it is part of the view from my bedroom. I have always wondered what it was used for and what it was like inside, now I know. Thanks for posting. It’s such a waste of a nice building leaving it ti lie derelict as it is at present. Are there any plans for it and the surrounding land now that Tesco was blocked from using this land?.

  5. My friends
    I have a brass nautical porthole or bull’s-eye window, whit the Brand:
    “Partick Brass Foundry – MAKERS – Partick Glasgow”
    It is a beautifull piece
    I´m from Argentina – Buenos Aires
    Best regards

  6. The building last night burnt down so thank you for taking these photos to show what a beautiful building it once was .

  7. This building was burnt to the ground as an obvious act of arson in May 2016 to make way for student flats.

  8. My great-great-grandfather designed and built ships from that shipyard his name is Robert Low. And his son Robert Low was a Shipcarpenter back when built wooden ships. Our family has many articles given to my great-great-grandfather when they launched a ship that he build on the river Clyde. I wonder if the foundry
    across the road Archibald Low was a relative of my great-great-grandfather and my grandfather

  9. Disgraceful to see this building being torn down just before a new shopping centre is about to start be building in that location.

  10. The loss of the Meadowside`s Shipyard office is a tragic historical loss to the decedents of the workforce and Partick who gave a lifetime in keeping this great yard alive.

    Graham G Nisbet

    If possible could the owner of this site please contact me

  11. My grandparents lived in a tenement flat at the corner of Hayburn Street and Castlebank Street, opposite this site which was always referred to as The Anchorline. From the late 40’s onward we children were warned not to play on the spare ground on this property for fear of unexploded bombs. Sad that this building has been so unloved and neglected.

  12. William Henderson was my Great Great Grandfather and though I’ve always lived in London I’d always planned to visit his Clydebank site , I know the dry docks have been filled in in the 60’s and flats built but the drawing office was always there . Too late now but I did get to see some photos of Scotway House thanks to you Ben .

  13. The Partick central station building on Benalder street is another nearby example. If people cared enough in the first place these buildings wouldn’t become derelict and hence have more chance of survival. I think the industrial nature of the place has something to do with it. Once it’s no longer in use a site is cleared completely and reused. Preserving a remnant is costly and messy for developers and planning regulations don’t seem to deter them. The Clyde itself however remains as a massive monument to the industrial past that persists even if everything else is lost.

  14. I was lucky enough to explore this building before it burned down – whilst there I didn’t exactly follow the urban explorer’s code and took a fair few of the order forms that I found there (very close to where you found the plans of the ship). I’m glad I did now but wish I took more!
    They’re very interesting, with different orders for objects being raised for different depts. Sometimes a ship is mentioned (SS Australia, Bohemia, Astoria, Bellagio, Dagfred, Hispania. Arabia, Amahoria(?)..)
    I’m just going through these now and I’m sure there’s somewhere that ought to have them rather than me. Any ideas?

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