Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Going Dutch

It's not as grand as the Custom House, or as vast as the Sugar Sheds, but the Dutch Gable House at 14 William Street, Greenock is one of the oldest buildings in the town, and in very good repair for it's age. It was built in 1755, just 10 years after the Jacobite rebellion. To the rear of the building, is the oldest surviving house in Greenock, built in 1751 and between them both, the same close quartered, cobbled street you would have walked down hundreds of years ago.

Inverclyde Community Development Trust took ownership of the Dutch Gable this morning and we are absolutely delighted that over the next few months, some parts of the Identity project will be able to be delivered from this iconic local building.

We have loads of plans for the Gable, it presents so many opportunities, and without a doubt, using the space to continue to promote and celebrate local heritage is right at the top of the list. It's a real long term project for us, but we also want to get a few things happening in part of the building over the summer.

We'll be telling the story of the Gable and hopefully some of the people who have passed through it on the blog over the next few months, and sharing some more of our plans as it all starts coming together.

Check us out on facebook, or if you prefer @dutchgable on twitter. Or both!

We look forward to being able to welcome some of you in soon.

Rear of Dutch Gable, with view of oldest house in the town
(and some wee eggs in the hanging basket)

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Volunteer Group: Progress Report

Last Wednesdays meeting with our volunteer group was a highly successful one. A great deal of progress has been made on the genealogy front with many of them tracing their roots back to mid 1800s, and a few have been able to go even further back. While doing this we have uncovered numerous stories about their families, one volunteer's story tells us of his fathers passage from America, while another tells us of a family member who was captain of a which unfortunately sunk. The important thing however is that our volunteers are becoming increasingly more confident in researching their past, and exploring it in a broader context in relation to what else was going on in Inverclyde at the time.

This project we are working  on benefits greatly from the use of physical evidence, be that in the form of old photographs, films, passports and various other documents, in fact, anything they can get their hands on which they feel is useful. We strongly encourage our volunteers to search their homes, wardrobes, attics and basements, anywhere at all in hope that they may find something useful.

This is where we make our plea to the good people of Inverclyde. Do you have anything historical in your home? Do you have an old photograph that you are unable to identify, or that you would like to share with us? Are there dusty old boxes tucked away in the catacombs of your house that you have not explored for YEARS? Then why not dig them out and have a look. You never know, you may find a hidden gem amongst them.

Although slightly more recent than the type of thing we normally search for, one of our volunteers stumbled across these pictures lying in her house. We do not have a date for them (although going by the clothes we have to assume that it’s sometime in the 1990s) do you know when the raft race took place? Were you in it? Or were you a spectator? Then contact us HERE

Do you have something lying around your house that you feel would be of use to us, or that you would like to find out more about? Then why not come in and see us:

Kay Clark - Project Manager
7 1/2 John Wood st
Port Glasgow
PA14 5HU
Telephone: 01475 806774
01475 806760

Friday, 20 April 2012

Celebrating the Comet - Part Eight

In 1912 it was decided that celebrations would be held throughout the country to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the launch oh Henry Bells prestigious ship. In excess of twenty-eight port towns throughout Scotland were asked to commemorate this historic event by displaying flags and bunting throughout their harbours and town centres. Some towns, including Greenock and Port Glasgow (where the hull of the ship was built) were asked to do a bit more to mark the occasion:

                “Recommend that Saturday, 31st curt., be observed as a public holiday; that flags, bunting, etc., be displayed in public buildings; the shipping in the harbour, and the ship building yards; the running of specially decorated tram cars; illuminations, and decorations in the town; parade of Royal Naval volunteers; and display of fireworks.”

Port Glasgow
                “A general holiday is to be observed.
Flags, bunting, etc., are to be displayed upon public buildings and shipping.
The procession of Trades and Societies is to take place.
The Greenock and Port-Glasgow Tramways Company are to run illuminated car designed as a model of the Comet.
An appeal is to be made for funds to found a John Wood Scholarship.
The yard at Port-Glasgow where the Comet was built is to be specially decorated for the occasion by Messrs. Robert Duncan & Co.”

The Procession of Trades and Societies in 1912

Monday, 16 April 2012

Ninety Years Ago… Has it Been That Long?

April 15 marked something of a historic event for Greenock Morton. No, it did not mark the clubs return to the Scottish Premier League (although in this supporters mind, it would have). However what it did mark, was the ninety year anniversary of the clubs unexpected one nil victory over Glasgow Rangers in the 1992 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden.

The name Greenock Morton only appears once on the trophy, having failed to celebrate at Hampden since that historic day in 1922. This is not for lack of trying though, the club have flirted with the cup over the years, bringing supporters agonisingly close to seeing their heroes hoist the glistening silverware in to the air one more time. It appeared that the club were destined to win the trophy in 1948, playing Rangers (once again) in the final. Unfortunately luck was not on their side that day. Many supporters will speak fondly of the clubs run to the 1963 League Cup Final, unfortunately that was not to end happily as they were on the receiving end of a sound thrashing by a lethal Glasgow Rangers side.

Yet, the club have given us some historic moments in the competition over the years. Many fans eyes will light up with glee when they think back to 2007 and the clubs stellar home performance against Kilmarnock at Cappielow where Chris Templeman played quite possibly his best game in the blue and white hoops. One year later, the club were to provide a moment of cup glory where they beat Hibernian by three goals to one at Easter Road.

However, this season with the tournament in its final stages and the finalists decided, it looks like the club will have to wait one more year to get their hands on the trophy. Until then, allow us to regale you with the tale of 1922:

Morton beat Vale of Leithen, Clydebank, Clyde, Motherwell and Aberdeen on their amazing journey to the 1922 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden, where they were set to take on Glasgow Rangers.

Morale and confidence were running low within the Morton Side during the run up to the game, even so much that they didn’t have any plans to return to Greenock after the game. Instead, convinced that they would be defeated, Morton planned to head straight to England to play a friendly match against Hartlepools United.

The team and supporters received a further blow to their confidence when it was announced that their top goal scorer, George French, would not be playing. French had sustained an injury in a previous game and had not yet recovered. The team on the day consisted of: Edwards, McIntyre and Brown; Gourlay, Wright and McGregor (Captain); McNab and Mckay, Buchanan, A. Brown and McMinn.

Seventy five thousand fans gathered at Hampden for the big game, many of them supporters from Greenock who had travelled there on the many trains and vehicles organised for the big event.

Despite Mortons worries, Rangers were not playing at their best in the early stages, this was made even worse when the Ibrox side were reduced to ten men, and with the substitution rule not implemented yet, it appeared as if Rangers were going to have to dig deep to get the victory expected of them. Soon after the first ten minutes had passed, Morton were granted a direct free kick after the Rangers goalkeeper carried the ball over the eighteen yard line. Morton’s luck took a turn for the better as Jimmy Gourlay came to take the free kick. When he calmly took his shot, he drove it in to the top corner of the Rangers net with deadly accuracy. (Side note, this was the first goal to come from a direct free kick in Scottish Cup history. It would be a further twenty six years before another goal was scored from a direct free kick, when Morton scored against Rangers in the 1948 Cup Final.)

This spurred Morton on to play a great defensive game to finish one - nil victors, making the club the winners of the 1922 Scottish Cup Final. However, as the club had expected to lose they never bothered to bring any celebratory materials with them, Rangers on the other hand had brought champagne to celebrate what they thought would be an easy victory. In the end it was the Morton players who lifted the Scottish Cup, and toasted their victory with their opponents champagne. 

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Archivist has Spoken!

The archivist has been informed that we are running a poll to name the title of our graphic novel, and wants your help in naming it.

Celebrating the Comet - Part Seven

Our last post documented the end of The Comet, and subsequently Henry Bell’s dream, after the ships disastrous crash off of Kempock Point, Gourock.

Before we move on further in celebrating the history of the vessel, we feel that it is only right that we devote a post to the crash, in order to give you an idea of the full scale of the travesty. What follows are a collection of newspaper articles, pictures, and first hand accounts of the sinking.

This article from the Glasgow Courier gives an account of the “Fatal ACCIDENT” that occurred on Friday 21st October, 1825. We can see upon closer examination that it gives an explanation of the crash, and an insight in to the survivors, and those who unfortunately “perished.”

The only twelve people to survive the “Fatal Accident.” We can see the name of Colin Alex. Anderson, who was the ONLY cabin passenger to survive, his story can be seen in the newspaper article from the Glasgow Courier. However, Provost Dugald Campbell is  able to give us an account of Mr. Anderson’s harrowing tale:

At the moment the fatal accident took place, Mr. C. A. Anderson, the only cabin passenger to saved, was below. Such of the passengers as were awake were in high spirits, narrating and listening to diverting tales. When the collision took place, he, with others, instantly rushed upon deck to learn the cause. In the panic that ensued, he in obedience to the captains orders to all on board, repaired aft. He was an excellent swimmer, and calculated upon that resource in the last extremity.

While standing on the deck, holding by a rope, he was seized round the arm with a convulsive grasp by a person behind him, lamenting their fate. In his perilous situation, he endeavoured to shake the person off, exclaiminf, “let me go;” when turn-ing round to disengage himself, he perceived that the person who had seized hold of him was Mrs. Sutherland. His heart smote him at the sight, and he immediately apologised in the kindest manner for having accosted her so roughly, being ignorant who it was that addressed him. At that moment he perceived Captain Sutherland in the act of throwing off his coat or cloak, to prepare himself for swimming. Mr. Anderson, not thinking it advisable to let go his hold of the rope, yet wish-ing to serve the lady, gave her gave her a strong shove forward in the direction of the boat astern, as her only chance of safety.

What became of the unfor-tunate couple afterwards he saw not, as he was immediately compelled to attend to his own safety by finding the water covering the deck. He retained his hold of the rope till the water reached his middle, when a wave, rolling over the Comet, carried him off his feet. The packet then went down, bow foremost; and the drowning multitude sent forth the most appa-ling screams, imploring the Ayr to return and save them. A second wave threw his greatcoat ovr his head, and almost suffocated him. For a time he swam about, ignorant of the direction in which the shore lay, and greatly exhausted.

In this state he was seized by the engineman of the Comet, who held him so closely that he found it impossible to disentangle himself. They were on the point of sinking, when they fortunately came in contact with the steamer’s yawl, which was floating about, keel uppermost, with several in-dividuals clinging to it. In consequence of their struggles, the yawl righted, when they got into it, though it was full of water. Being without oars, they were unable to make any effort to gain the shore. They remained in this situation about twenty minutes, when a pilot boat discovered them. In the struggle to get in to the pilot boat, they nearly upset it. They were obliged, there-fore, to cling to the side of it, and in this manner reached the shore, greatly exhausted. 

Jean Munro, another survivor  who is believed to have clung to the collar of a dog. Her story is as follows:

An article from an unlisted newspaper highlighting the crash in a few brief, yet unsettling paragraphs.

There were many poems and songs documenting the loss of the comet. Below are a examples of two of them:

It is believed that somewhere in the region of seventy three people "perished" however, only forty-nine bodies were recovered from this terrible and "Fatal Accident." Many people cast a deal of the blame towards McClelland, the master  of the Ayr, which collided with the Comet. Rather than keep his ship in the region, and pick up the passengers who were surely faced with certain death, he continued on, sentencing them to a watery grave. Henry Cockburn (one of the council for Duncan McInnes and Peter McBride, the master and pilot of the comet) launches a scathing attack on McClelland, stating:

"The master of the Ayr - whose credit I am entitled to try, and whose situation, gentlemen, I say is not so enviable as that of those who perished - has given evidence which no man in his senses can believe. It is false. It is false that he did not hear the cries from the Comet. It is false that he stopped for a moment. It is false that he considered his vessel in the least danger. He remained? he fled! 

His ears pierced with the cries, but his heart not softened by the agonies of those dying men. He fled and saved no life. He made no attempt to save a single drowning being, though there was time for human people at Gourock to put off their boats and rescue many. 

I never knew a human creature placed in such a situation as this man. I repeat that, compared with him, I envy the fate of those that were lost. I will not disgust further by talking of him, but say he is not to be believed."

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Celebrating the Comet - Part Six

'The magazine of the Lithgow group of Companies', The Birth of the "Comet", P.11

After the wreck at Dhorus Mhor it was decided that a new steamboat would be built to replace the destroyed original.  Using shares donated by generous subscribers, the Comet 2 was finished in 1821.

It remained in service “plying the river and seas” until the 20th of October 1825 when it collided with the Ayr steamer off Kempock Point, Gourock whilst travelling from Inverness to Glasgow.  Despite being just 165 yards from shore, the majority of the passengers perished.

 It was about one o'clock in the morning but The Comet 2 had neglected to display a light and the lack of visibility caused the vessels to collide.  The Master and Pilot of The Comet 2 were among the survivors and both were charged with culpable homicide and the culpable, negligent, and reckless command, charge, and steering of the Comet.

The Master, Duncan McInnes, was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment.  The second sinking of the Comet was a terrible tragedy which spelled the end of Henry Bell’s dream and he abandoned his work on steam navigation. Unfortunately for Bell his fortunes never recovered, and he died a poor man. However his legacy lives on, not only in the form of the PS Comet, but for daring to experiment and harness steam power.

Below is an excerpt from the Glasgow Courier, 22nd October 1825.  

The Morton Competition - Update

Last week we launched our Morton Competition, giving you, the fans an opportunity to win a replica shirt from the 1969-71 season.

Currently we have had a great deal of interest from fans from around the Inverclyde area, this is in part down to the use of our Blog and Facebook Page.

However after correspondence with Greenock Morton Football Club, we arranged to have the questions published in the match day programme on Saturday April 7, when Morton took on Queen of the South.

Don't forget, there is still plenty of time to enter. Just answer the questions and send them to

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Newark to Newark - Now Available Online

Over the past few weeks we have received a number of requests for our highly successful publication, Newark to Newark. Unfortunately due to this high demand we are down to our final few copies of the book.

But fear not my friends as you are able to download it directly from the Inverclyde Community Development Trust website at:

For those of you who can't wait to have a look at the book, we have included a virtual copy for you below.

Newark to Newark

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Graphic Novel: It's Almost There!

Yesterday the team in charge of the graphic novel met to discuss the current state of the project. It came as no great surprise to everyone that the overall quality of the completed pages was extremely high. However, what did surprise the team was just how close to completion the project was.

The team spent the best part of the day deciding upon a layout for the completed book (below are some pictures highlighting the scale of the project) and it was agreed that the project will soon be finalised, and sent off to the printers. 

 Yet, one thing which was overlooked by the team up until this point was the final title of the novel. This is where you come in. We have narrowed down to two options, and would like the final decision to be made by you, the people who will soon be reading it. 

So please, vote in our poll (located on the sidebar opposite the post) and help us decide on the name for our highly anticipated graphic novel.

What should be the title of our Graphic Novel?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Morton Competition

Last year the Inverclyde Community Development Trust worked closely with local school pupils, teachers, players and fans in order to highlight and celebrate the history of Greenock Morton. 

In the short space of time since the project began, we have gathered a great deal of information on the club and on the town of Greenock in general. the conclusion to this project was the highly successful book titled "We are Morton" Which is still available for free at 7/12 John wood Street Port Glasgow. 

As the Morton project is now complete we begin to move forward with our Identity project (focusing on the experiences of migrants passing through or settling in Inverclyde). We are in the process of sorting through the mountains of information and artefacts we have acquired. While doing so we have stumbled across a replica shirt from the years 1969-71.

Rather than have the shirt lay around the office we have decided that it's only right that it go to you, the fans. 

So, if you want to be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is answer the following questions:

  1. Name the founding member of Morton who owned a shop in the area of Greenock where The Wee Dublin End stands today.
  2. Who is the man in the above photograph?
  3. Which former player scored a record breaking hat-trick in the 1968/69 season? What nationality was he?
  4. Which highlander celebrated his Olympic victory with a celebratory lap around Cappielow?
  5. From which language does the name "Cappielow" or "Capellow" originate?
          1. German
          2. Dutch
          3. French

Please send your answers to: along with your name and telephone number so that we can contact you if you win.

Competition closes at noon on Friday 20 April 2012.

Please check out and like our facebook by clicking HERE

Do you have an interesting story from the past? Did your father work in the shipyards? Did your family migrate to Inverclyde? We would love to hear your story. Please, feel free to contact us with any information you have. Everything is appreciated no matter how big or small.