An overview of the site
In the late 19th century the Site occupied rural land on the north bank of the River Clyde, some of which was subjected to flooding at high water. The Lanarkshire & Dunbartonshire Railway, opened in 1894, is shown running adjacent to the east of the Site. The larger North British Railway (NBR) mainline is shown approximately 0.5km northeast of the Site. Erskine Ferry had been established approximately 0.3km north-northwest of the Site in the late 18th century as a commercial and passenger route between Renfrewshire and Dunbartonshire. The Forth & Clyde Canal, running in close proximity to the east of the Site, had also been established at this time. There was little industry in the vicinity of the Site, except for a print works in Dalmuir, approximately 0.8km southeast of the Site, and Auchentoshan Distillery, approximately 1km northeast of the Site.
In 1906, Napier & Miller built a shipyard adjacent to the north of the Site. Several minesweepers and sloops were built at the shipyard by the Royal Navy (RN) during World War One (WWI). During peacetime, the shipyard was used to build and repair merchant vessels. Towards the end of WWI, the Admiralty constructed a Naval Oil Fuel Depot between the River Clyde and Old Kilpatrick. The depot’s oil terminal, in addition to 20 No. fuel storage tanks, was constructed on the Site.
Significant post-WWII reconstruction took place in the vicinity of the Site, with the building of new residential estates in Old Kilpatrick, Mountblow and Dalmuir. This is shown on the historical maps below left. The fuel storage tanks on the Site are not marked on the map although they remained in use under MoD control.
WWI military history
The towns along the River Clyde had become heavily industrialised by WWI and several local industrial works became engaged in the war effort. Napier & Miller had a large shipbuilding yard at Old Kilpatrick, adjacent to the north of the Site. The company built sloops and minesweepers for the RN, in addition to merchant ships. The shipyard also had facilities for assembling Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 aircraft.
William Beardmore & Company had the largest shipyard in Britain during WWI, the Naval Construction Works at Dalmuir, approximately 0.9km southeast of the Site. A number of dreadnoughts, merchant ships, oil tankers and aircraft carriers were built at the shipyard during WWI. There were also facilities for armaments manufacture and tank construction. The company also established and ran the Inchinnan Airship Constructional Station, approximately 4.3km southeast of the Site.
Other strategic targets in the vicinity of the Site during WWI included docks, shipbuilding yards, iron and steel works. An estimated 9,000 German bombs were dropped over Britain during WWI. It was the first time that strategic aerial bombing had been used. There are no records of WWI bombing on or in the vicinity of the Site.
Towards the end of WWI, the Admiralty built a RN Oil Fuel Depot on the Site.
WWII bombing in Clydebank
From 1939 Scotland was subjected to reconnaissance flights by the Luftwaffe which was building up a photographic record of potential targets.
Because of the Admiralty’s Dalnottar Oil Fuel Depot, and the various industrial works situated along the River Clyde, the area surrounding the Site was an important strategic target for the Luftwaffe.
Air raids on Clydebank commenced in July 1940 and remained minor in severity until March 1941. On the 13th and 14th March 1941, Clydebank was subjected to 2 heavy raids, subsequently known as the ‘Clydebank Blitz’.
- Over 650 HE bombs and 105,000 IBs fell on Clydebank and its surrounding districts.
- 528 fatalities were recorded and over 4,000 houses were completely destroyed.
A further 3 air raids took place on Clydebank until the final raid in August 1941. The River Clyde and the Forth & Clyde Canal provided useful navigational aids for the Luftwaffe and all the main strategic targets in the vicinity of the Site were bombed.
Post WWII developments
Dalnottar Oil Fuel Depot remained operational until the 1960s when it was closed. The fuel tanks and oil terminal on the Site were bought by Carless for use as an oil refinery. The layout of the tanks remained the same as in WWII, as shown on the historical map. The former railway running adjacent to the east of the Site had been dismantled.
Erskine Bridge, approximately 0.5km north-northwest of the Site, had opened across the River Clyde in 1971. Also during the 1970s a series of bonded warehouses for distilling and storing whiskey were built in close proximity to the southeast of the Site. Significant urbanisation had taken place to the northeast of the Site and on the south bank of the River Clyde in Erskine.
During the late 1980s, the fuel storage tanks at Mountblow, approximately 0.5km northeast of the Site, were demolished and have subsequently been replaced by housing developments.
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