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Greenock, Scotland: Old Photos & Films

Greenock Inverclyde Scotland History old photos vintage film

Greenock, the largest settlement in the Scottish area of Inverclyde, was once an important manufacturing, export and shipbuilding centre. It suffered badly in the bombing of May 1941, before watching many of its industries disappear in more recent decades. Many photos and films still exist to chart the many changes this town has witnessed.

Old Photos Through The Decades

⏯ WATCH: Black And White Photos Of Old Greenock

Selection of black and white photos set to music. Lots of people, places and industries in the old days.

⏯ WATCH: Greenock In Old Photos

Another selection of old photos, many in colour.

1937: The Launch Of A Ship

⏯ WATCH: Launching A Ship In Greenock (1937)

From the British Pathé collection comes this quick clip of a ship being launched in 1937. It had a surprising and deadly fate ahead.

Greenock In World War II

On the nights of 6th and 7th of May 1941, Luftwaffe bombing raids involving hundreds of aircraft took aim at the shipyards and berthed ships. Unfortunately, most of the bombs and incendiary devices fell on residential parts of town, causing damage and huge fires. 

The Greenock Blitz

6 & 7 May 1941


271 people killed

More than 10,200 people injured

Nearly 5,000 homes destroyed outright

25,000 homes damaged


⏯ WATCH: Greenock Blitz 1941

William Young identified the damaged sites. Where some of the old landscape still exists he’s compared old photos of the site to photos taken in the same location in 2014. He’s added clear titles to identity each scene.

⏯ WATCH: VE Day 75 Inverclyde – The Greenock Blitz

A photo montage showing how extensive the blitz damage was. Good clear location titles.

⏯ WATCH: Unveiling Memorial To Free French (1946)

See the unveiling of the memorial to the Free French Navy, which was a sculpture in the shape of an anchor, and discover more about the French tragedy that happened here.

The 1950s, 60s & 70s

⏯ WATCH: Greenock In 1959

It’s a bit fuzzy, but this old cine film includes lots of locations and gives a good impression of where people were spending time. Also, William Murray has added some interesting information too.

⏯ WATCH: Greenock Plans Ahead & Sea City

Discover two films about the town and its future in the 1950s and 1970s.

The Town In The 1960s

60s greenock 2: Alec Beaton

A great collection of 1960s colour photos.

⏯ WATCH: Greenock in the 1960s and 1970s

Lots of people, places and vehicles to spot.

The 1980s & 1990s

In the post-war years, Greenock prospered, but unemployment became a major problem as the heavy industry deteriorated in the 1970s and 1980s. It was only in the 2000s that the local economy began to recover with reinvestment and the regeneration of large parts of the area. With the establishment of the Clydeport container port as the Ocean Terminal, a passenger terminal for cruise ships visiting the Atlantic, tourism has emerged as an unforeseen bonus.

The town has traditionally relied on shipbuilding, sugar refining and the manufacture of wool for employment, but none of these industries are now part of the local economy. More recently, the town has relied heavily on the production of electronics. This has however, largely been supplanted with call centres, insurance, banking and export shipping.

Luckily we do have footage of industrial parts of town before they disappeared.

⏯ WATCH: Greenock 1981 – A Shipbuilding Town

Take a drive from the BPI factory at 90 Port Glasgow Road into the town centre in October 1981. Captures the shipbuilding firms and suppliers before the industrial landscape changed forever.

⏯ WATCH: Greenock Silos In 1992

Brian Jones used a Video 8 camcorder to record what he saw from the top of the silos at Anaplast (British Polythene Industries). This is now a housing estate. At the time, petrol was 47.9p a litre!

Facebook Groups For Local History

Discover more fascinating old photos and vintage film of the local area with the following Facebook pages and groups:

Greenock…A history in old pictures.

Greenock Pictures – Old and New

Greenock, Gourock and Port Glasgow – the way we were

RIP Greenock Academy 1855 – 2011

Greenock old schools photos.