Monday May 14, 2012 – Clydebank

Up at 7:00 and breakfast was cereal, weetabix and granola. Lois had to be at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center (SECC) for 8:00 AM so she called a taxi. It arrived so fast I wasn’t ready, still packing my camera gear and I was frantically searching for my room keys which turned out to be in my backpack.

After seeing Lois off for her day, I ran into a couple of fellow Canadians so we had coffee together while I decided what I was going to do for the day. I decided to go to the former John Brown shipyard at Clydebank. Many historic ships were built there including warships such as the HMS Hood, HMS Repulse, HMS Tiger, HMS Australia and HMS Barham. Also built there were the liners Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Lusitania.

To get there, I jumped on the local light rail train service which took me north east to Clydebank. Before heading for the former shipyard, I tried to find the Clydebank museum, but couldn’t find it. I asked at the nearby library and they told me it was closed for renovation. While there, they had displayed the book Clydebank Battlecruisers (Ian Johnston) with so many stunning photographs I decided I wasn’t leaving Scotland without a copy of my own.

It was a bit of a hike from the library to the former shipyard, about two kilometers. There was a little ticket office near the Clydebank College, from there, a shuttle bus comes and drives you over to the Titan Crane.
There was little of the former shipyard still in place, except one of the 150 ton cranes was preserved. This crane would lift heavy machinery into the ship during the fitting out phase of construction.

While waiting for the shuttle bus to arrive at the ticket office, they told me they were getting more Canadians than Americans these days, which came as a bit of a surprise. The shuttle bus takes you along the former slipways, where the hulls of hundreds of ships for over a hundred years slid into the Clyde river. The crane is perched at the north end of the fitting out basin.

The weather was getting windy and it began to rain after I arrived at the top of the crane, which is 150 feet tall. The crane owners always have a tour guide to accompany the visitors to the top to answer questions and insure safety. They operate the elevator that takes you up and down from the top of the crane. The view was pretty cool, you could see back to the center of Glasgow, and up and down the Clyde for miles. Also clearly visible is the BAE shipyard that is still in operation and does much work for the Royal Navy. In the other direction is the tail of the bank where ships trials were conducted before delivery.

When I was done in the crane the guide and I went back down again, and I explored the nearby visitor center which had a number of ship models as well as interesting photographs. By the time the shuttle brought me back to the ticket office, it was near noon. I walked to a little shop on the main road to buy some lunch. For £2.60 I got two sandwiches, one with bacon and the other with sausage and a coffee. The proprietors and I got so involved in talking about Canada and Scotland, that I realized I had forgotten to pay for the meal while I was eating. I tried to leave a tip, but the lady wouldn’t accept it.
After eating lunch I walked back to the train station in pouring rain, thankfully I was equipped for it with a waterproof coat and hiking boots. It was even hailing at times while waiting for the train. I got off the train at Argyle station and arrived at our manor house about 2:00. I was quite tired and fell asleep from about 3:00 to 4:00. Lois called and said she had picked up dinner, cornish pasty which was very good. I went back out and bought some beer at Marks and Spencer. We watched some tv after dinner then off to bed.

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