Many believe that the town of Clydebank founded on the banks of the river Clyde (Clutha) is a relatively young place. In a way it is. Officially founded as a Police Burgh on the 18th of November 1886 as part of the county of Dunbartonshire, Clydebank served as an early housing scheme for several shipyards. Two were Thomson's Ship Builders (1871) and Beardmores (1860 Clyde Navigation Trust) when they opened their shipyards between Yoker village on what is now the western fringe of the city of Glasgow and the village of Dalmuir. Between 1884 and 1885 the American Singers Sewing Machines company opened and remained till its closure in 1984.

Though 18th of November 1886 is the official birthday of our town we have to remember that people have lived here and around for centuries. Lets start at the beginning.

AD 50 The Romans have conquered England and parts of Wales and have begun to move into the land of the Picts (Pcitum: meaning people who paint themselves); what we know as modern day Scotland. They are constantly harassed by the Picts and eventually build the Antonine wall and give us St Patrick born in Old Kilpatrick. For some years Southern Scotland basks in the delights of the Roman way of living; central heating, wine, and baths...sounds quite good. Then the city of Rome itself comes under attack from the Goths (modern Germans) and the Empire eventually begins the withdrawal of legions from across the empire. The Romans leave Scotland, retreating behind yet another wall...Hadrian's Wall in northern England. They leave behind in Old Kilpatrick an Imperial Port on the river Clyde and a defensive fort. In Hardgate they leave yet another hill fort plus the remnants of the Antonine Wall which, over time, becomes forgotten and grassed over. Only now, some 10 centuries later are we beginning to understand their impact upon our modern way of living.

What came next? Some call the next period in our history the dark ages...don't think so! The Celtic tribes who created the Kingdom of Dalriada settle after the Romans leave. They give us the foundations of modern Scotland and they do much to create the place we now know as Dunbartonshire or as we knew back then Lennox. Once the Celts and Britons (Modern Welsh...don't ask!) settle we begin to see a new civilisation process across Europe, as the Celts re-introduce the written word and re-establish the great libraries of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Monks and nuns of the Celtic Christian Church keep the libraries and the torch of learning alive here and in Ireland. The most notable are St Patrick, St Columba,, St Kessog, St Brig, St Mirren, and the founder of Christianity in Scotland St Ninian. Though these men and women are religious, they nonetheless find the time to spread the notion of learning across Scotland and as far as Italy and Eastern Europe.

Next? The medieval period, with the foundation of Dunglass Castle in Bowling in 1380, King Macbeth, St Margaret Queen of Scots, The Three King Alexanders and the Golden Age...then the wars of Independence, Robert the Bruce King of Scots, William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots, John Knox plus the reformation. The political centre of the region is Paisley Abbey from which the Lord Abbot dispensed ecclesiastical and temporal justice and gave out land...Well, this all continues until the reformation of the 1550's to 1600's. It's in this period that we begin to hear of places such as Dalmuir (Big Field), Culbowie (Kilbowie) and Boquanharan as well as Cochno.

Big Leap forward...We did say Basic History! Dumbarton is now the county capital with a county stretching from Helensburgh in the west to Cumbernauld in the east and Clydebank in the south, bordering the big neighbour Glasgow.

Essentially Clydebank has grown out of the housing built by Thomson's Ship Yard (opened in 1871) in Radnor Park, and the villages of Dalmuir and Kilbowie which had been around since the 1500's. The district eventually encompasses the villages of Hardgate (1945) & Old Kilpatrick (1975). Old Kilpatrick is mentioned as far back as the early 11th century; the people of the village are even mentioned as having attended the great battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Though technically part of the old Dumbarton district, the village of Bowling has a special place in the hearts of Bankies. Its connection to the river Clyde, the Forth and Clyde Canal and historical Shipyard Scott's has made it a very independent place where many Bankies worked and played. It is also home to Dunglass Castle, Margaret MacDonald and Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Yoker: the village of Yoker once part of the county of Renfrewshire, for many years fought off the expansion of both the City of Glasgow and the town of Clydebank. Sadly this old village which dates back to the 12th century was eventually split in two during the 1920's between Glasgow and Clydebank. The old Yoker distillery is now long gone and the Yoker Ferry (or Renfrew Ferry) sits on the Broomielaw in the centre of Glasgow as a music venue. For more information about Yoker see "Both Sides of the Burn - The Story of Yoker", a compelling local history of the village written by Yoker Secondary School pupils in 1966. The book has been re-published and is available from the Yoker Resource Centre, 10 Kelso Place Yoker or call them on 0141 952 6485. See the Glasgow Story for more.

War and the Blitz: Since the advent of the industrial age our worst and finest moment came in March 1941 during the Second World War. From the 13th till 15th of March Clydebank was systematically bombed in some of the heaviest bombing of the war. Over the years the information given by government has been limited and much is made of the official death toll of 528 killed and 617 seriously injured during the Blitz. Locals say the total was more than 1,200, even now the official listings in the National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle and the commemorative list in Westminster Abbey in London list a mere 448 dead. For listings of those killed view the casualties page.

After 1975: In 1975 Clydebank District Council took over from the old Burgh (or Town) Council and Strathclyde Region took over the remit of various County Councils. The new District council lasted for a mere 20 years until a smaller version of the old County Council was brought into being in 1996 bringing Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven under the umbrella of West Dunbartonshire Council. Yet Clydebank is still here!

Today Clydebank consists of the neighbourhoods of: Auchentoshan, Auchnacraig, Boquanharan, Braidfield, Clydeholm, Cochno, central Clydebank, Dalmuir, Dalmuir West, Drumry, Dalnottor, Edinbarnet, Faifley, Kilbowie, Linnvale, Mount Blow, Parkhall, Radnor Park, and Whitecrook (with the old Clydebank section of Yoker village) as well as the villages of Duntocher, Hardgate and Old Kilpatrick.

Ok we did say basic history...need more ? Then here are a few wee books to keep you busy.

Further Reading:

The Blitz

Clydebank Life Story Group Untold Stories: Remembering Clydebank in War Time Clydebank, Clydebank Life Story Group 1999, Re-print 1999, 2003. An excellent collection of personal stories from those who survived. A must read for those interested in the Blitz and its survivors ***** Available from the group direct or West Dunbartonshire Libraries.

MacPhail, I .M.M The Clydebank Blitz Glasgow, Clydebank District Libraries 1974 Re-print 1991, 1995, Dunbartonshire Libraries 2000. One of the earliest and the main reference book for those interested in the Clydebank Blitz and Scotland at war in general. A gem of a book ***** Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries.


Struthers, Sheila Old Clydebank Catrine, Sheila Struthers 1994. If its old pictures you're after then Sheila's book is one of the best****Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries and most tourist shops in the west of Scotland

Rankin, Robert A March Stones in the Kilpatrick Hills: A Feuars' Dispute of the 1850's Clydebank, Clydebank District Libraries and Museum Dept 1993. Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries, this fascinating story recalls the forgotten boundary stones in the Kilpatrick Hills***

Hood, John Duntocher Trinity Church: 1836 - 1986 Glasgow, Clydebank District Libraries 1986
An interesting history of the Parish of Duntocher Trinity *** Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries

Clydebank District Libraries More Duntocher and Hardgate in Pictures Helensburgh, Clydebank District Libraries 1984. Great wee book full of pictures *** Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries

Yoker Secondary School Pupils Both Sides of the Burn - The Story of Yoker Glasgow, Yoker Resource Centre. A fantastic book covering the history of the village of Yoker from its earliest days to the decline of shipping in 1966. A must read**** Available from Yoker Resource Centre, 10 Kelso Place, Yoker, Glasgow G14 0LL Tel: 0141 952 6485

Industry and the Workers

Ballantine, Ishbel et al The Singer Strike: Clydebank 1911 Glasgow, Clydebank District Libraries 1989. An excellent insight into the drama of working life and the housing conditions of the early twentieth century ****Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries

Johnman, Lewis et al Down the River Glendaruel, Johnman, Lewis et al 2001. A look back through the eyes of the workers of the ship yards on the shipping history of the Clyde.****Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries

McKinlay, Alan Making Ships Making Men: Working for John Brown's - Between the Wars Alexandria, Alan McKinlay 1991. A great introduction to the lean years in ship building between 1919 and 1939***Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries

Castle, Colin Clydebank 100: Ships from Clydebank & District West Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire Libraries 1996. Colin Castle gives us in one book the key vessels of the Clydebank Shipping Age, a pivotal pictorial catalogue of shipping history****Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries

Winter, C.W.R Long Live the Queen Mary Isle of Wight, Forget-me-not Press 1994. Nothing sums up the artistic and architectural excellence of Clydebank than the Queen Mary. A floating palace that now rests in the USA, a great book****Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries

Johnstone, Ian Beardmore Built: The Rise and Fall of a Clydeside Shipyard Clydebank, Clydebank & District Libraries 1993. The forgotten yet compelling story of Beardmore's works, from great ships to spectacular airships like the No 24****Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries

Johnstone, Ian Ships for a Nation 1847 - 1971: John Brown & Company Clydebank West Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire Libraries 2000. The book towers over all it surveys. A colossal history of John Brown's Shipyard with outstanding images of Clydebank.*****Available from West Dunbartonshire Libraries

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