Gourock is the smallest of Inverclyde’s three main towns. It sits at the mouth of the Clyde and has a long established rail and ferry terminal. In its early days Gourock was a fishing community but it underwent a boom period at the end of the 1880’s when it was a favourite holiday spot for thousands of Glaswegians who went “doon the watter” for their holidays. Gourock is still a popular destination for day visitors.
The railway station adjoins Gourock Pier from which Caledonian MacBrayne operate their ferry terminal for crossings to the centre of Dunoon. In the summer months, a pedestrian ferry also operates from Gourock Pier to Kilcreggan and Helensburgh. Western Ferries operate another vehicle ferry from McInroy’s Point at the west end of Gourock to Hunter’s Quay just outside Dunoon.
A short walk from the town centre is Tower Hill, from which there are excellent views over the Clyde to the Sea Lochs and mountains. Between Kempock Street and Castle Gardens is the Granny Kempock Stone, a prehistoric monolith resembling a huddled cloaked figure. Legend says that sailors used to circle the stone to ensure safe voyages and newly weds visited the stone because it was supposed to bring them luck.
Just outside the town lies the Cloch Lighthouse which dates from 1796, and is still used to warn sailors of the danger of the Gantock rocks. Further down the A770 coast road, towards Inverkip, lies the beautiful Lunderston Bay, a Yellow Flag Rural Beach award winner - an award given by the Tidy Britain Group. Gourock is home to one of only two remaining heated salt water outdoor pools in Scotland. Built in the 1930’s, with an Art Deco facade, it is popular with locals and visitors during the summer months.
Originally a small fishing village, by the mid 17th century Greenock had an extensive herring trade and was granted burgh status in 1635. During the Industrial Revolution the harbour expanded rapidly due to transatlantic trade and growth in the shipbuilding industry. Paper, pottery, glass, barrel making and sugar refining also flourished in the town. Greenock was shaped by heavy industries but decline in this sector meant the town had to change to meet the demands of the new electronic age and service sector industries. The harbourside areas have been cleared to make way for modern developments like the James Watt College Waterfront Campus.
A civic square has been created in front of the Custom House. The nearby quay was the departure point for many emigrants during the 19th century, and now is a regular stop for the world' s last ocean going paddle steamer - The Waverley. The main shopping are in Inverclyde is The Oakmall with over a quarter of a mile of covered malls and in the adjacent street which formed the heart of the Victorian town.
Even though the development of Greenock has been dictated by industrial growth, the legacy of this has been a wealth of beautiful civic and domestic buildings, many of which are protected by listed building status, Cathcart Square and a large part of the west end of Greenock, including the McLean Museum and Watt Library, are also designated conservation areas to protect the historic buildings.
As well as impressive architecture, Greenock has plenty to offer the outdoor enthusiast. The Battery Park boasts wide open spaces for a variety of leisure pursuits, and the Lyle Hill affords spectacular views over the Firth of Clyde and up to Ben Lomond. On the summit of the hill stands the Cross of Lorraine, a memorial to the Free French Armed Forces stationed in Greenock during the Second World War. During the last decade an increasing number of cruise liners have chosen to berth at Greenock’s Ocean Terminal. It is a very popular port of call with passengers because the views across the Clyde are stunning. It is also a short walk to the town centre and the main visitor attractions.
For those of you who are interested in knowing more about the Greenock blitz of 1941, visit www.greenockrevisited.co.uk
Port Glasgow is the second largest town in Inverclyde. It developed from the hamlet of Newark in the 17th century to service the large ships unable to reach Glasgow because the Clyde was too narrow and shallow. By the early 18th century Port Glasgow had become the river’s main customs port, trading in tobacco, cotton, timber, sugar, iron and hemp.
The Clyde was eventually dredged and widened to give direct access to Glasgow, however, as Port Glasgow’s importance as a port waned, shipbuilding became the town’s biggest industry. The only construction shipyard still in operation in Inverclyde is Ferguson Shipbuilders who specialise in building small vessels including tugs and car ferries.
Next to Ferguson Shipbuilders is Newark castle, the 15th century home of the Maxwell Family who originally sold the land for the development of Port Glasgow to the Glasgow baillies. On the other side of the shipyard is Coronation Park, created when the old harbour was filled in half a century ago. In 1962, a replica of the SS Comet was built to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first sailing of a commercial steamship in Europe. It was recently refurbished and is located opposite the Park.
Kilmacolm & Quarriers Village
The beautiful village of Kilmacolm lies inland between Port Glasgow and Paisley. The village grew from a small rural hamlet founded in the 7th and 8th century and takes its name from the Church of Columba. In 1869 a rail link opened connecting Kilmacolm to Paisley and Glasgow.
The village became a popular residential area with some of Scotland’s finest architects of the period, including Mackintosh and Salmon, commissioned to design large villas. Part of the village is a conservation area, and the quality of the buildings ensures that it remains a much sought after residential village.
The rail service has long gone. In its place is a section of the national cycle route which links Gourock to Leith to the east of Edinburgh.This is popular with walkers and cyclists. In the countryside to the south of Kilmacolm, the 19th century philanthropist William Quarrier founded a village for homeless children, far away from the deprivation of Victorian Glasgow.
Today with new housing complementing the original village and small businesses established, the community has developed a vibrant multi-faceted environment with care provision still at its heart.