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
Selection of black and white photos set to music. Lots of people, places and industries in the old days.
Another selection of old photos, many in colour.
1937: The Launch Of A Ship
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
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.
A photo montage showing how extensive the blitz damage was. Good clear location titles.
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
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.
Discover two films about the town and its future in the 1950s and 1970s.
The Town In The 1960s
A great collection of 1960s colour photos.
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.
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.
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: