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Greenock, Cartsburn Shipyard, Scott Lithgow Ltd, Dry Dock

Dry Dock (19th Century)

Site Name Greenock, Cartsburn Shipyard, Scott Lithgow Ltd, Dry Dock

Classification Dry Dock (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Scott's Shipbuilding Yard; Lower Clyde

Canmore ID 281754

Site Number NS27NE 29.01

NGR NS 28717 75788

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Inverclyde
  • Parish Greenock
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Inverclyde
  • Former County Renfrewshire

Archaeology Notes

NS27NE 29.01 28717 75788

Dry Dock [NAT]

OS (GIS) ep. 4.

(Location cited as NS 288 758). Drydock, built 1810 by Scott and Son. A small masonry dry dock, still in use, now the oldest on the Clyde. The adjoining shipyard (NS27NE 29.00) has some much-altered 19th centrury buildings.

J R Hume 1976.

Site Management (22 August 2008)

Oblong dry dock roughly 110m long and 20m wide, with semi-octagonal S end, stepped sides, later steel gates, and outer basin to N. Sandstone ashlar. 2 steeply sloped ramps on each side. Iron rings at regular intervals along cobbled quayside. Remains of cast-iron operating machinery including capstan with Stothert & Pitt of Bath maker's plate. Rectangular outer basin (partly filled in to E side) with roughly 20m entrance to Clyde. Also known as the Submarine Dock.

Situated in Cartsdyke, off Rue End Street, between Victorian Harbour and the T-Mobile office. It is believed to be the oldest surviving dry (or graving) dock in Scotland. There are 8 dry docks currently (2005) listed in Scotland, the oldest of which is the one in Troon, which was built in 1840s; all the others were built in the 2nd half of the 19th century. Built for Steele's shipyard, which occupied this site until it closed in 1883, at which point it was taken over by Scott's. James Steele was born in Ayr, and started his career building fishing vessels and coasters in Saltcoats. He later joined partnership with John Carswell, and the firm Steele and Carswell moved to Greenock in 1796. It is therefore possible (although unlikely) that the dry dock dates from this time. In 1816 the Steele and Carswell partnership was dissolved and Steele joined partnership with his sons, Robert and James. In the 1820s the firm began building steam ships, and it is likely that dry dock was built at about this time. The dry dock and outer basin are shown on John Wood's Town Plan of 1825; the 1838 town plan is more specific, marking the graving dock in 'Mr Steele's Ship Building Yard'. It is interesting to note that the Dry Dock in East India Harbour, which was completed in 1823, is marked as 'New Graving Dock' on the 1838 map, which perhaps suggests that Steele's dock was older.

The dock was extended between the publication of the 1st and 2nd edition OS maps, probably when the yard was purchased by Scott's. (Historic Scotland)


Project (May 2016 - September 2017)

Running from May 2016 to September 2017 and part of the Canmore Mapping Programme, Yard by Yard was an area-focused, desk-based project that tested the Defining Scotland’s Places (DSP) methodology in an area for which the records in the NRHE showed considerable variation from one historic map source to another.

Following discussions with local heritage groups and with the ambition of collecting data useful to the communities’ ambition to develop a coastal heritage trail, the project aimed to map the extent of the shipyards and associated industry between Port Glasgow and Greenock. To achieve this aim, the project used historic mapping, ortho-rectified modern aerial photography and the HES aerial photograph collection to map the extents of, and upgrade the records of, the shipyards and associated features such as quays, docks, areas of land reclamation and associated industry.


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