A History of Govan Graving Docks
The Graving Docks were built for the Clyde Navigation Trust between 1869 and 1898 during the years when the Clyde yards led the world in the building of sophisticated merchant ships.
While they provided ship repair facilities for vessels using the river, the docks were predominantly used to allow vessels built on the Clyde to be dry-docked before delivery. Ship builders needed to dock their new vessels for final painting, while ship owners wanted to have surveys and repairs carried out at the end of a voyage.
Each of the three docks – No1, No2 and No3 – could take the largest ship afloat at the time of completion, and the development of constructional techniques is well illustrated in a series of changes in design ranging from the massive granite walls of No1 dock (1869-75) to the mass concrete of No3 (1898).
Govan Dry Docks was the main public docks for Glasgow and the west coast of Scotland. The sheer size of the structures meant there was often more than one boat berthed in a single dock. For example, three steamer ships could be docked together in Dock No3 at once. Clyde Steamers extensively used the docks for winter refits and annual overhauls before the following summer season.
The three dry docks are large masonry and concrete structures with stepped sides and iron caisson gates to the River Clyde. To the west of the site is the Harbour Basin. Stag street runs North South and divides the site into the Listed and non- Listed parts. The Pumphouse building runs alongside the oldest and most northerly Dock No1 on a land peninsula and Quayside area of cobbled and infilled made ground fronting onto the Clyde.