Seawards The Great Ships

Maritime and offshore news website gCaptain recently got quite excited about some remarkable ship launching footage from Croatia.

[Update December 10 2014: unfortunately the original HD footage of the heavy lift ship Jumbo Kinetic’s launching at Brodosplit Shipyards, Croatia was pulled from YouTube in June this year during a period of serious contract renegotiation. The inferior quality version above is all that we can now embed here. An HD version that is not compatible for embedding at this WordPress blog “theme” can be viewed here. Anyway, we always felt that it was stealing more than a little of the limelight from the only wonderful, Seawards the Great Ships (below)… Please don’t pull that, Scottish Screen… ]

We are reminded of the much older but no less remarkable late 1950s River Clyde ship launching sequences from Seawards the Great Ships, Hilary Harris and John Grierson’s oscar-winning documentary  which can be viewed full length at the Scottish Screen Archive’s Pandora’s Box of a website here (Adobe Flash required):

Seaward the Great ShipsFilmed at now long-lost Clyde shipbuiders with famous names like Blythswood of Scotstoun, John Brown of Clydebank, Fairfield of Govan, Lithgows of Port Glasgow and Scotts of Greenock – some of them well-known to Glasgow yacht designer G.L. WatsonSeawards the Great Ships was described by Scottish Screen Archive founding curator Janet McBain as, “this glorious swansong of shipbuilding on the Clyde”.

Nevertheless, major shipbuilding activity is continued in the 21st Century at the Govan and Scotstoun sites by BAE Systems Maritime.

[Updates 2 & 6 November, 2013: Did we speak too soon about Govan? Does removal of cranes not used since 2008 signal the beginning of the end for shipbuiding at Govan?]

[Update 14 November, 2013: When we originally published this post – only in the interests of spreading the word about the wonderful film, Seawards the Great Ships, little did we know what was just around the corner for the Govan and Scotstoun shipbuilding yards. We’ll let Ian Jack bring you up to date along with his Guardian colleagues. Ian is a London-based Scottish journalist with a fierce passion for the Clyde.]

[Update 20 January, 2014: Glasgow’s Evening Times newspaper on the future for the Glasgow yards. Is there a possibility for a merchant shipbuilding revival at Govan?]


Glasgow based yacht designer to the world, G.L. Watson, witnessed hundreds of his designs being launched at Clyde shipyards and boatyards during his all too short career from 1873 to 1904. Martin Black’s profusely illustrated biography, G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design details them all. Buy online here.

~ Iain McAllister ~

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About Peggy Bawn Press

496pg biography of Scottish yacht designer, George Lennox Watson (1851-1904). Significant book on the history of yacht design & the development of modern yachting. Beautifully illustrated. Many photographs previously unpublished.
This entry was posted in Clydebuilt, film, Firth of Clyde, G.L. Watson, Glasgow, journalists, Martin Black, naval architect, object of desire, River Clyde, ship launch, shipyards, tank testing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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