Thursday 22 February 2018

The Inchgreen Cranes

I called them the Three Graces.

Until July last year these three cranes graced the Clyde shore at the Inchgreen Dry Dock between Port Glasgow and Greenock.  Two were luffing cranes.

They were a wonderful part of the local skyline, and a constant reminder of the Clyde's great days as busy port and shipbuilding centre.  I miss seeing them.

There are some fabulous pictures and lots of technical information about the Inchgreen Graving Dock here.  It was built in the 1960s as a response to the increasing size of ships being built.

One crane still had its maker's plate - William Arrol & Co.

There are various films online showing their demolition - I haven't been able to watch them.

Friday 16 February 2018

New Toll Boys Memorial in Port Glasgow

A new memorial to the Toll Boys has been erected at the west end of Robert Street in Port Glasgow.

The original plaque has been removed from a tenement wall and placed in a beautiful monument in the little garden nearby.  You can read the names on the plaque on my previous post here or click on the photo below to enlarge it.

It is a very fitting monument to those from the area who gave their lives in World War 1 and much easier to locate.

There is a wonderful searchable site called Inverclyde's Great War which has, as well as the names of all the locals who died in World War 1, many other resources connected with the war.  There is a page dedicated to the Toll Boys Memorial.

Sunday 11 February 2018

Famous wardrobe malfunction

I don't suppose when the Countess of Salisbury's garter fell down while she was dancing with King Edward III sometime in the 1340s she ever thought that the occasion would still be talked about over 670 years later.  But it is! 

Coat of Arms above the north door of Greenock Custom House
A quick glance at the Scottish version of the royal arms shows the usual unicorn, Scotland's national animal, and the lion, that of England.  This recently refurbished version appears over the north door of Greenock's Custom House.  It really is bright and absolutely gorgeous!  Look at the thistles between the unicorn and the motto and the red roses on the other side.
But it is the motto in the middle which tells the story of the Countess of Salisbury's unfortunate wardrobe malfunction.  

The words "Honi soit qui mal y pense" are clearly visible and can be translated as "Shame be to him who thinks evil of it" - which are supposed to have been the words uttered by the then King - Edward III who was dancing when the Countess of Salsibury's garter slipped.  Being a gentleman, he picked it up and turning to the laughing crowd shamed them with his words.

Edward III as Head of Order of the Garter - source
The phrase then became the motto of the Order of the Garter - a special order or chivalry whose members are chosen by the monarch.  The current members still parade in Windsor on "Garter Day" in dark blue cloaks (just like the one in the picture above), fancy hats with white ostrich feathers and with the badge of the order, the insignia on their cloaks.  There are some great photographs of Queen Elizabeth II and her family in the procession here.

Greenock Custom House
There's another motto on a scroll at the bottom of the sculpture "Dieu et mon droit" (God and my right) which is the monarch's motto.

Thursday 8 February 2018

5 things to see in Inverkip

The village of Inverkip in Inverclyde is a wonderful mixture of the old and the new and there are a couple of things that you shouldn't miss if you visit.

Impossible to miss is the Marina - Kip Marina has over 600 berths containing a wonderful variety of yachts of all sizes.  In summer it is nice to walk around the marina admiring the boats and watching the comings and goings in and out of the Marina, or sit and enjoy a some food and a glass of wine in the Chartroom restaurant.  Kip Marina is host to Scotland's Boat Show.  There's quite a lot of new housing in this area too.

Inverkip's main street is narrow and despite the parked cars and occasional bus, still gives you the idea of what the village would have been like in the past, with small houses and narrow lanes leading from them.  With lots of new housing up on the hill behind the village, it is mostly now a commuter village with regular transport links to Glasgow.  The main street also boasts the Inverkip Hotel, a former coaching inn, now a family run business with a great atmosphere and serving wonderful food.

Inverkip War Memorial - situated in a little car park on the edge of the village, on the banks of the River Clyde, this is a poignant reminder that despite being a small village, there were many local men who gave their lives in Britain's wars.  A lot of work has been done recently researching the names on the Memorial, which you can take a look here.

There has been a place of worship in Inverkip (sometimes written as Innerkip) since 1170.  The present Inverkip Parish Church (Church of Scotland) was built in  1806.  The building has a fascinating history and it is worth having a look at the Church website to read all about it.  Notice the fake window at the front - cute!  There is something quite plain, solid and almost comforting about this building - not sure why it makes me feel like that.

If, like me, you are fascinated by graveyards, then a visit to Inverkip graveyard (just up from the Church) will not disappoint.  The Shaw Stewarts of Ardgowan (local landowning family descended from an illegitimate son of King Robert III who granted the land in 1403) had their family mausoleum here.  It is a bit spooky and it is thought that the mausoleum was built from some of the stones from the original 12th century church (Auldchurch). 

All the Shaw Stewart memorial tablets are the same - which could perhaps mean that the originals were taken away and replaced.  The Shaw Stewarts built a private chapel (St Michael and All Angels, Episcopalian)  near Ardgowan House in the 1850s - so perhaps they were taken there.

Inverkip Graveyard also contains a wonderful memorial to James "Paraffin" Young and his wife, Mary, who once lived at Kelly House near Inverkip.

So, that's five things to do in Inverkip.  On a sunny day there are lovely views across the Clyde to sit and contemplate.  For the more active, there are plenty of walks and trails around the area or you could just sit back and relax in one of the great cafes and restaurants in the village.

Inverkip has a marvellous history - I'm sure I'll be writing some more posts about this village in the not too distant future!

Thursday 1 February 2018

Important Greenock Memorial

I recently came across some extra information about the memorial stone to Greenock artist John Fleming (1792 - 1845).  It is situated in the west wall of the Duncan Street burying ground in Greenock.  The photographs show how badly eroded the stone now is.  It would be a shame if such an important Greenock artist had no permanent memorial in the town, but time and weather are taking their toll on this gravestone.

The memorial stone is so badly eroded that it is difficult to make out the inscriptions, but it is interesting to know what was originally depicted -
"It consists of a palette and brushes sculptured in white marble by Mr Mossman of Glasgow, and having a variegated marble tablet beneath …".

It would appear that the palette is inscribed with the words "Lakes of Scotland" referring to a work of that name which consisted of engravings by Joseph Swan of Glasgow of John Fleming's sketches.  Swan also illustrated "Strathclutha" from Fleming's landscape paintings.  Sixty gentlemen subscribed to the monument which also bears the words "In memory of John Fleming, artist, who died at Greenock, 16th February, 1845.  Erected by a few friends and admirers of his genius."

The sculptor, Mossman, was part of a family of famous Glasgow sculptors.  You can read more about them here.  It is such a shame that this memorial stone is slowly being allowed to decay, soon it will be almost unrecognisable.