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August 17, 2010

Govan’s proud history

In its heyday, the Fairfield Shipyard saw thousands of workers plough through its famous gates on the corner of Govan Road.  Last week, with the death of Jimmy Reid, we were reminded of the yard’s proud history, in particular the UCS workers’ work-in. The yard’s Fairfield offices have lain derelict for years – a constant reminder of the industry’s demise. But now a major community led restoration and refurbishment project is about to breathe new life into the building – a celebration of the area’s industrial heritage

An iconic building that once breathed life into the Govan community is on its way to being restored to its former glory. In its heyday, the Fairfield Shipyard Building saw thousands of workers plough through its famous gates on the corner of Govan Road. The yard produced passenger liners such as Cunard’s SS Campania as well as naval ships such as HMS Indomitable.

But more recently the former Fairfield offices, overlooking Elder Park, have been a symbol of the industry’s demise. Now the first-phase of a major restoration project at the derelict site has been completed. The work so far has cost more than £1.4million – and the second phase will see £4.5m spent on rejuvenating the site. It means the architectural splendour of the world-famous A-listed office building will be on view again and back to its former greatness.

Youngsters from Govan Youth Information Project were involved in a mini environmental clean-up and flower-planting exercise. The building was bought last year by Govan Workspace Ltd, a community enterprise involved in local regeneration.

Pat Cassidy, the company’s managing director said: “We are very pleased that today’s unveiling is being carried out by local children from Govan Youth Information Project. This work is really all about them and their future.

“We’re confident they’ll continue to be involved as the Fairfield scheme develops.”

The first phase included emergency repairs and £240,000 of window restoration. Funds have come from Historic Scotland, Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government and Govan Workspace. Another part of the community’s plan is to create a heritage project in Fairfield that tells the story of Govan’s outstanding past when it was the focal point of cutting-edge technology and led the world in shipbuilding. The building will also provide commercial office space.

Pat added: “Our plan is to have a dedicated space run by the community that will tell the Govan story in a way that involves real people who work or worked in the yards passing their experiences on down to the younger generations.”

The second phase of work involves raising £4.5m. Already £3.6m has been raised with contributions pledged from Historic Scotland, the European Regional Development Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other loans.