I remember as a small boy sitting at a table in a cafe or bakers,
upstairs in a tenement on Dumbarton Road in Clydebank. I don't remember
what I was eating or drinking. Memory can be so selective. That tenement
has long gone. The tiny newsagent/tobacconist that I used to stand at
while waiting for my Dad opposite the gates to John Brown's shipyard has
also long gone. My Dad's gone too, as has John Brown's shipyard. Even
those big gates have vanished. There is in fact practically nothing left
of Clydebank, just memories and isolated old remnants sitting forlornly
amidst a weed-strewn wasteland.
Clydebank only existed and blossomed as a town in the late nineteenth
century because of John Brown's shipyard and Singer's sowing machine
factory. Growth of Clydebank was phenomenal. It grew from merely a farm
or two in the late Victorian period to having a population of forty-odd
thousand by the beginning of the twentieth century. Stout stone
tenements lined expanding streets bustling with men and women in
employment. It's hard to imagine that in Singer's - Europe's largest
sowing-machine factory - there were once 14,000 people employed.
Thousands of other folk were employed in the shipyard. Without
John Brown's and Singer's there is almost no reason for Clydebank to
exist, and the town is in danger of being erased. Today, Clydebank town centre is merely a shopping centre, a
shopping centre just like every other shopping centre in the country. It
would make you weep, so it would.