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Glasgow’s crew help youngsters relive the heyday of Clyde shipbuilding

Glasgow’s crew help youngsters relive the heyday of Clyde shipbuilding
7 September 2023
Crew from HMS Glasgow joined pupils from their affiliated local school in delving into their namesake city’s long and proud history of shipbuilding.

Sailors from the new Type 26 frigate – fitting out on the Clyde – accompanied staff and youngsters from Holy Cross Primary School at Fairfield Heritage, a museum dedicated to local shipbuilding.

The river was renowned worldwide through much of the 19th and early 20th Centuries for the ships it produced – with some of the most famous names in seafaring such as liners Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and the QE2, plus mighty Royal Navy warships like HMS Hood – built on the Clyde.

Today only a few yards remain – including BAE’s two facilities at Scotstoun and Govan. The latter occupies the site of the old Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company… whose former offices now serve as the museum/heritage centre.

It features a wide range of exhibits, including ship models and memorabilia, along with images and records of what life was like when the Clyde was the centre of global shipbuilding, with centre co-ordinator Abigail Morris on hand to offer explanations and detailed background.

The display includes an impressive history of the construction of warships for the Royal Navy, and the role that the former Fairfield Yard is playing in the construction of the Type 26 Frigate led by HMS Glasgow.

Some of the children were surprised to learn that the new frigate’s Lieutenant David Missenden had served on helicopter carrier HMS Ocean – one of the ships whose model was present in the museum ­– which was also built at Govan.

After the tour, a discussion on shipbuilding and practical activities designed to give an insight into the way ships were assembled was led by Ian Johnston, a noted author and Clyde historian, who also impressed his visitors with photographs of the river during the heyday of the shipyards.

Helped by the sailors, children tried their hand various activities: driving a rivet into a mock-up of a ship’s side, under the supervision of CPO Marc Seymour; assembling the frame of a ship by laying the keel and placing the ribs so that the plates of the hull could be added; and getting to grips with original riveting tools, including a hammer and rivets.

“It was fantastic to see the children engage with the history of shipbuilding on the Clyde,” said Commander Phil Burgess, Glasgow’s Senior Naval Officer. “I hope this provides inspiration in addition to that from our previous STEM engagement at Holy Cross Primary School, and that some of those present have a career in engineering. Perhaps they may be involved in building successors to HMS Glasgow in years to come.”

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