Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Inchgreen Dry Dock in the news (with Updates)

Funny how there is nothing about historic goodies in the news, then they’re like buses – a little line of them appears all at once.

I think the massive Inchgreen Dry Dock has been in the news a few times in recent years, usually the same sort of story, with someone trying to win points by whining about it not being in use, how that’s ‘Terrible’, that the owners should be lined up against a wall and shot for mismanaging it, and that something called ‘The Government’ has betrayed everyone by not keeping it filled with work.

Last mention was as recent as September Yet another ‘derelict’ initiative

I never know how to take these stories and claims, since ‘They’ whine about filthy, money-grabbing owners who will do anything to turn a profit, yet ‘They’ also complain about filthy, money grabbing owners who just sit on assets in order to make money from them as they appreciate and rise in value.

But I think ‘They’ selectively forget the cost of ownership of such assets if lying idle and unused, or that they may never appreciate and grow in value – something that only happens if a buyer can be found who will pay a fortune for it.

Shipbuilding in this country costs an absolute fortune with our high wages compared to the Far East (plus our various minimum wage demands), so nobody will be running here for builds any day soon.

Even our working yard on the Clyde doesn’t really work, as I recall seeing news of the yard holding its hand out for more money to pay for escalating costs on its most recent ferry project. But that’s not entirely the yard’s fault, as I also recall it is not only building those ferries, but also developing new technology around the power sources used, so it’s not just a build, but active R&D as well, and that really needs a ‘blank cheque’, or access to funding.


In short, if there was any (profitable) work for the old  Inchgreen Dry Dock, I tend to think the owners would not really need to be ‘forced’ to take it.

Inverclyde Council is set to increase the pressure on the owners of a huge dry dock in Greenock.

Councillors want the owners to either bring the Inchgreen Dry Dock back into use or make it available as an asset for the nation.

Peel Ports insist they want to secure an industrial future for the dock and work was being tendered for.

The owners said they were bidding to win refit work on the Royal Navy’s new QE2-class aircraft carriers.

If successful, the tender could create hundreds of shipyard jobs locally but campaigners and councillors are running out of patience.

The Inchgreen dock, one of the largest in the UK, is where the QE2 was fitted out in the 1960s after its launch from the John Brown shipyard.

But it has been largely unused for 16 years and its cranes were demolished last year.

Call for huge Inchgreen dry dock to be ‘saved for the nation’

It’s interesting to see the place be compared to Prestwick Airport.

And even more interesting to note that when we see that in the news, it’s because it’s not making a profit, or paying for itself.

Inverclyde’s deputy leader Councillor Jim Clocherty said the dock area was of importance to the whole of Scotland.

“We should not leave it up to one firm to decide what can and can’t go into it,” the Labour councillor said.

“What we are actually looking for is the Scottish government to say ‘it is of such importance we will take it into public ownership’.”

He admitted that he was calling for a form of nationalisation, citing the example of Prestwick Airport, which was bought for £1 by the Scottish government five years ago amid fears it could close.

“We are seeing an asset for Scotland really going to waste,” Mr Clocherty said of the dry dock.

I wonder if he’s ever been told assets MAKE money, as opposed to eating it?

I’m always intrigued when I see people who have absolutely no possibility of ever actually being responsible for something come forward and say something along the lines of ‘THIS is how to deal with this issue’. They never have to put their money where their mouth is (they don’t have the money anyway), and will never have to take the risk of standing behind their advice, and falling with it, but expect others to do so.

The article on the dock concludes with.

Responding to the council motion, Peel Ports insisted they shared Inverclyde’s ambitions of restoring Inchgreen as a major, viable centre for ship repair, creating jobs and economic prosperity.

They said they had kept the council updated on the current MoD carrier repair procurement process and, once complete, they would have a far greater degree of clarity how to bring Inchgreen back into productive use.

I wish I could include a conclusion to this but, one way or another, whatever that may be would still seem to be some years away, so just need to keep watching for articles and updates to appear.

It’s a shame those involved with such things seems to be adversaries, rather than members of the same team.

Captured one night back in 2008.

Construction of a floating jetty for the MOD continues night and day in Inchgreen dry dock

Construction of a floating jetty for the MOD continues night and day in Inchgreen dry dock


I referred to problems with escalating costs on a build in our working Clyde shipyard and, as if by magic, a story referring to the very issue was published.

A contract to build two ferries has become an albatross around a shipbuilder’s neck, owner Jim McColl said.

Construction of the CalMac vessels at Shipbuilder Ferguson Marine’s base in Port Glasgow has been hit with spiralling costs and lengthy delays.

Mr McColl estimates the final bill could now be as much as £50m over the agreed budget.

The Glen Sannox is expected to be delivered in the middle of next year, more than 12 months behind schedule.

It is the first of two vessels being built as part of a £97m contract from Caledonian Marine Asset Limited (CMAL), a company owned by the Scottish Government that buys and leases ships to CalMac.

Speaking to STV News, Mr McColl said: “This is a real albatross around our neck.

“If we could just wave a magic wand and get rid of those two vessels that would be a godsend to us because they’ve just been a headache from day one.

There’s a lengthy article following the above opening quote, and as the matter is clearly in dispute between both parties, I suggest reading their statements, as I certainly don’t consider myself privy to enough factual data to make any sort of comment, other than to note there is clearly something wrong somewhere.

Read more here.

Ferry contract ‘albatross round shipbuilder’s neck’

We’ll clearly have to wait some time to see any resolution or independent review.

Similar disputes with power stations have taken years to resolve, before courts or legal processes have concluded.

Update 2

Somebody must  be watching me!

The day after I added the update about the unfortunate direction the ferry contract was taking at our surviving yard on the Clyde, the media carried the following stories about Ferguson’s.

Shipyard to launch claim against ferry firm amid design row

Ferguson Marine to lodge claim in Arran ferry design row

Sadly, this was telegraphed months ago, when it was clear that the two parties were not seeing eye to eye, and things (to an outside observer) were deteriorating, rather than being progressed towards some sort of amicable conclusion.

It seems that whether its the 20th century, or the 21st, Clyde shipbuilding is going to be beset with one problem or another, be it strikes or disputes.

This post began with consideration of attraction work to Inchgreen Dry Dock.

Given how overseas shipyards seem to be able to get on with the business of building ships, while Clyde shipyards seem doomed to be sources of some discontent or another…

Much as I’d like to be posting about growing local success (and Ferguson’s was actually doing quite well, with both work and innovation), I don’t think many looking for a shipyards are going to be looking towards the Clyde, and even the giant Inchgreen, as their first choice.

I think they should try REALLY REALLY HARD to win maintenance work within the UK, or start to think about filling it in and building ‘luxury flats’ on the reclaimed land.


Dec 5, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, Naval, Transport | | Leave a comment

Oh look! No HMS Tamar

Just for fun, after Oh look! BAE Systems, I thought I’d make a slight detour and revisit the view in that post, since I now know where this place is.

I’d read that one of the vessels had gone into the water recently, so was curious to see if was in the right place. As I noted in that original discovery post, making assumptions is not always a good idea, even if they seem obviously correct.

River Clyde BAE Systems HMS Tamar Gone

River Clyde BAE Systems HMS Tamar Gone

I didn’t look the ‘other’ way last time I was here, but I did this time, and looking in the windows of the flats on this riverside development was interesting.

It’s hardly being nosey, the side facing the river is largely glass so the rooms on that side is almost in plain sight if folk haven’t closed their curtains.

First thing I saw I liked – one of those cat hammocks held onto the window glass by four huge suckers, so the flat’s feline overlord can watch its empire below, and bask in the Sun. I hope the double-glazing it good though, or maybe even triple glazing.

The rest wasn’t so good, as my first passing glance (which may just have been in the wrong direction) appeared to show that the favourite decoration around those rooms was wine bottles.

Lots of wine bottles.

I had a look and was mildly surprised to see a flat (on the 4th floor) of the Glasgow Harbour development was only around £170 k.

I’ve looked at similar places nearby and seen prices close to £100 k higher than this – but in older and more historic properties (you probably don’t even want ask/know the price if they were by Thomson or Mackintosh, but there’s a surprising number of them around).

Interesting difference.

Oct 19, 2018 Posted by | military, Naval, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Oh look! BAE Systems

Although I’ve seen plenty of other pics of BAE Systems facility on the Clyde, it’s not somewhere I’ve been, and from past trips down the river, was sure it far down it compared to my usual haunts.

I was having a bit of an explore last night, just a little bit further from my usual reach, and decided to look at some new flats along from Riverside (transport museum).

I was more than a little surprised to find they faced the BAE sheds I was used to seeing in the news – not so far down the River Clyde at all!

I guess I must have spent too much of my time wandering around the likes of Yarrow’s and John Brown’s in the past, and had just made a mental assumption that this place was somewhere near those sites, and had never even bothered to check.

Chalk up another success for the warning “Never assume, it will make an ass out of u and/or me“.

I’m guessing this is the Royal Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Tamar. Designed for a crew of 60, HMS Tamar has a maximum speed of around 24 knots and can go 5,500 nautical miles without having to resupply. The ships is also equipped with 30 mm cannon and a flight deck capable of accommodating a helicopter.

River Clyde BAE Systems

River Clyde BAE Systems

One of two OPV’s being built on the Clyde for the Royal Navy (beside HMS Spey), part of a manufacturing and support contract worth £287 million. Both will be in service by 2021.

According to the Ministry of Defence, work on the new vessels is currently sustaining 800 jobs at shipyards on the Clyde.

Aug 29, 2018 Posted by | Naval, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Arctic Convoy museum receives funding assistance

I never really appreciated the detail of the Arctic Convoys until I did a little of my own research for a post, then realised I’d missed a lot with regard to this story.

Sadly, while education about this wartime effort is growing, this is only happening as the last few survivors have grown very old, and their numbers are dwindling.

There has always been some sort of memorial to those involved, but not a proper, formal museum.

However, ongoing efforts to create such a facility are moving towards a successful conclusion, and I noticed news of another award which the project will benefit from.

A project dedicated to World War Two’s Russian Arctic Convoys has received £72,820 from the Scottish Land Fund.

The Highlands’ Russian Arctic Convoy Project (RACP) will use the money to buy a former butcher’s shop in Aultbea for a new exhibition centre.

The nearby Loch Ewe was a gathering point for many of the convoys.

The Arctic Convoys transported four million tons of supplies and munitions to Russia between 1941 and 1945.

More than 3,000 Allied seamen lost their lives to the freezing conditions and attacks during the trips to ports in the Arctic Circle after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Funds awarded to Aultbea, Aberdeen and Leadburn projects

Arctic Convoy Memorial

Arctic Convoy Memorial

Aug 11, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Loch Ewe remembrance visit is down to three Arctic Convoy veterans

In past years I’ve noted the holding of an official memorial ceremony at Loch Ewe to mark the Arctic Convoys which assembled and departed from the safety of the protected location.

I think it was last year which was reported to be the last official ceremony, with an announcement to the effect that the official gathering would no longer be held, due to the advanced years, failing health, and distance involved for the few remaining veterans.

But that didn’t preclude personal visits, and while four planned make the trip, only three were able on the day:

  • Edwin Leadbetter, also known as Eddie, was serving on HMS Fencer, an escort aircraft carrier, when it joined an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz. He spent more than a decade in the Royal Navy and is a recipient of both the Arctic Star and the Burma Star.
  • James Docherty will be making his first journey back to Loch Ewe since World War Two. He remembers looking at the ship next to him, only to see his neighbour from Dalmarnock, Glasgow, looking back at him. He is a recipient of the Arctic Star and the Ushakov Medal.
  • Bernard Roberts, also known as Barney, served in the Royal Navy from 1942 and finished his service in 1947 on HMS Forth, in Rothesay. He spent time on mine-laying ships in the Arctic Circle and an application for the Arctic Star has been made. He has also received the Africa Star for his contributions in northern Africa.
  • A fourth veteran, Albert Lamond, 92, from Erskine, was unable to attend the trip due to illness. He is a recipient of the Arctic Star, the Ushakov Medal and is a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur for his service to France during the invasion in World War Two when his ship acted as an escort to Bombardment Force D of the Eastern Task Force.

Via Three veterans commemorate Arctic Convoys at Loch Ewe

Gun emplacement by Loch Ewe David Brown

Gun emplacement by Loch Ewe David Brown

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, Naval, Transport, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Today is Submarine Day

11 April is Submarine Day.

It seems the first recorded submersible was built by Cornelius Drebbel in 1620 for James I of England.

We’ve come a long way since then, and a nuclear powered submarine can now circle the Earth without having to surface, and could do so for years if not for the needs of the crew, and such incidentals as food.

Both sides of the Cold War probably saw both good and bad developments, achievements, and losses that deserve recognition, and I’ll avoid conflict by deliberately keeping my comments at that general level.

Sad to say, I don’t think I’ve ever been around the Firth of Clyde during movements of such craft, so I’m obliged to dip into Zak’s glorious collection for an example I’ve been lucky enough to be able to share.

This is HMS Victorious – click on the image for the source.

Also, find more in his Naval Vessels gallery.

HMS Victorious Copyright Zak

HMS Victorious Copyright Zak

The four Vanguard-class submarines form the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent force, the others being HMS Vanguard, HMS Vengeance, and HMS Vigilant. Each of the four boats are armed with 16 Trident 2 D5 nuclear missiles.


1 × Rolls-Royce PWR2 nuclear reactor
2 × GEC turbines; 27,500 shp (20.5 MW)

The second of the class to refit,  fitted with a Core H reactor ensuring the boat will not need to refuel again until the end of its service life. Although not stated specifically, the replacement Dreadnought-class is projected to come into service around 2030.

The PWR 2 has double the service life of previous models, and it is estimated that a Vanguard-class submarine could circumnavigate the world 40 times without refuelling.

Apr 11, 2018 Posted by | Naval | , | Leave a comment

James Keith Gorrie – ‘the nicest man in Glasgow’

There’s a lot of pics of items which can be found in Kelvingrove, but the vast majority are of the same subjects.

While I wouldn’t suggest there’s anything wrong with that, it is also true to say that there are many items I’ve never seen anyone take, or share, a picture of.

Case in point, the display pictured below.

James Keith Gorrie Kelvingrove

James Keith Gorrie Kelvingrove

Mar 17, 2018 Posted by | military, Naval, photography, World War II | | Leave a comment

‘City of Adelaide’ still sailing around after some 130 years

Saved from the farcical efforts of a Sunderland based madman, who stated in his own video that he hears the old clipper speaking to him – and who has also stated he will be bringing the hull back from Australia to Sunderland (despite not even raising enough interest or money to even move it from Irvine to Sunderland) – the ‘City of Adelaide’ (better known to Glaswegians as The Carrick) has been sailing again recently, as the hull of the former 1864 passenger ship had to be relocated about 200 metres to make way for housing development.

The hull remains on a barge (2,600 tonnes total weight with the hull on board) while work to preserve the remains continue as funds allow, and while local politicians and developers debate the location of the hull’s final home.

The new, temporary, site is expected to be the City of Adelaide’s home for the next two years after which it will most likely move to Dock Two — the State Government’s preferred site for a heritage shipyard.

But project organisers say they are open to other options such as Cruickshank’s Corner, where Alberton-based firm Southern Sea Eagles is planning a $5 million maritime tourist attraction.

The move — paid for by Renewal SA — cost about $50,000 and required the electricity to be disconnected, the gangway removed, and the barge to be turned around so it could be moved, involving some serious construction work requiring the hire of cranes, semi-trailers, trucks, and tugs, plus new construction around the resited barge.

Via The Port’s historic clipper ship is on the move and/or The Port’s historic clipper ship is on the move

There’s an amusing moment in a video included in the above article, where the presenter informs viewers the clipper sank and spent a year at the bottom of the ocean – in reality, it sank (many times in fact) while moored next to a bridge on the River Clyde in the middle of Glasgow, during the time it served as the RNVR Carrick, resting against these two piles.

Carrick berth

Carrick berth and former car parking area

Pictured below at the start of the first move to Australia, rescued from being ‘deconstructed’ (cut up and scrapped) at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine.

Jan 10, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Naval, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

How is the Carrick, or City of Adelaide, faring in Australia

Far from being loaded onto a barge and returned to Sunderland (as some loonies who don’t have a penny to their plans promised a year or two ago) from Australia, once known as the Carrick in Scotland, the last surviving clipper ship, City of Adelaide, miraculously seems to be surviving life in Australia, and has neither burst into flames, or collapsed into a pile of dust, despite the scorn of those who failed to rally any tangible support or funds to keep the historic hull in this country – where the last fate it was promised (prior to rescue by the Australians) was to be cut it into pieces to get rid of it (it was blocking some development land in Irvine) in a ‘historic deconstruction’, a process we were told would allow historians to see how it was built. Little was said about the fate of the pile of firewood this vandalism would have left behind.

Despite the contempt with which those who claim to have better plans, but no serious backing or support, apparently continue to hold the Australians, and attempts to discredit them (by suggesting they have no money for their plans – which is really a bit silly, since few projects have ALL the funds in place up front, and do as the Australians are doing it, by raising what they can when they can, and proceeding as funds permit), have continued to look after the hull, and attract visitors to view the relic. Oh, and donations.

Probably the main hassle has been finding a permanent home, but that’s not really in their hands, as development of the potential sites is yet to be approved or carried out and is, unfortunately, down to politicians and competition, as commercial and tourist demands (amongst others) argue. It’s been almost a year since they last received any news on the site(s), with only one update during the year. Things are still not settled with the landowners.

From halfway around the world it’s hard to be accurate, or even make a decent guess, due to lack if freely available information.

While I do have some search bots that watch online for any news articles, one of the disappointing results has been that almost every news item I get alerted to only lets me see the first few lines of any story, since the media source carrying the story is locked behind a 100% paywall. There’s no offer of a free article, or a sample subscription for a week – the only option is a full subscription, or nothing.

There are, however, occasional radio interviews, and this one was released recently:

Interview on Radio Adelaide from 5 December 2017

Visit the clipper’s web site to stay up to date.

Clipper Ship City of Adelaide

I can’t ‘Pop along the road/beach’ for a quick pic, so it’s back to one taken before the hull departed.

Thankfully, this REAL oldie is shared on Flickr (thanks).

Said to be 19 April 1960.

Glasgow, 19 April 1960

Glasgow, 19 April 1960 – allhails (Allan)


Dec 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Naval, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Anstruther exhibition honours fishermen killed in the First World War


World War I was not confined to the more well known venue of The Front, but also extended into the sea, with German submarines deployed in order to disrupt supplies – fishermen working off the coast were potential targets:

A new exhibition has been launched to honour the fishermen who died in service during the First World War.

Anstruther was one of the fishing communities affected when war broke out, as fishermen were called to fight.

Many men from Scotland’s fishing industry went to fight in the conflict, and fishing regions were highly affected by the injuries and casualties they suffered.

David Christie from Anstruther sank a German U-boat in 1918. His granddaughter Davina Knox has the casing of the shell and his medal.

She said: “They were on a drifter patrolling the Irish Channel and they only had one gun on board the ship and this U-boat must have come up and they had a wee battle seemingly and they fired a direct hit and they took the 36 men prisoner. There was no loss of life.”

David Christie’s story features in a new exhibition at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in the town.

via Anstruther exhibition honours fishermen killed in the First World War | Dundee & Tayside | News.

The First World War had both personal and collective impacts on those involved, whether they were away fighting or at home.  In this exhibition we explore the specific effects that the war had on those who made their living from the sea.  Using objects from our collections and individual stories of those affected we paint a national picture of the war in Scotland’s coastal communities.

At the beginning of the war many fishermen entered the services and swapped the familiar hazards of life at sea for the dangers of the trenches or naval work.  For those who stayed at home fishing became severely restricted.  Fishermen were left with very small areas left to fish in and many boats were requisitioned for the Navy.

Exhibition Dates:

28th June – 26th October

Entry : included in museum admission, accompanied children FREE

A Shared Experience · What’s on · Scottish Fisheries Museum

Jun 30, 2014 Posted by | Maritime, military, Naval, Transport, World War I | , | Leave a comment

A sub on the Clyde

I always mean to share these sub pics (hard to find something that better links to ‘secret’), but always seem to get diverted by something or other, so decided to ‘try harder’ this time.

One reason I usually fail is because I like to identify things I mention, but in the case of the subs that show up on the Clyde, I don’t seem to have any obvious reference to check with in order to find out which one is on show – so I didn’t even bother this time.

As always, pics like these are courtesy of Zak, and you can see the rest for this day at: 20th June photo – Zak photos at

Jun 20, 2014 Posted by | Naval, photography | , | Leave a comment

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