Founded in 1860, Shieldinch boatyard’s main purpose was to supplement production of the major Glasgow shipyards. It operated fully up until the Depression of 1930s.
Captain Kip McMichaels, a passionate, rebellious sea captain sailed many a boat in and out of the Clyde. His favourite drinking spot was The Tall Ship and, upstairs, he enjoyed the company of many a scarlet woman.
At the turn of the century, nights at The Tall Ship Public Bar were notorious. Seamen and labourers from the boatyard and Conway Spices drank their weight in whisky. A heavy night of drinking would have murderous consequences (see Mutiny at The Tall Ship, 1899).
The Boatyard Strike and Shieldinch Riot, 1895
The Boatyard Strike in 1895 had a grave effect on ship building and export activities. Workers wanted higher wages and blocked Conway shipments. As a result, Conway Spices' profit suffered and its own labourers’ wages were docked.
This led to huge unrest between the boatyard workers and labourers. There was also patent anger and resentment between the boatyard ‘locals’ and Conway ‘immigrants’. The boatyard’s organised protest was hijacked by Irish labourers hiding in the closes and a mass riot broke out. Three fatalities kept the tension bubbling for years. Religious figures and political activists exacerbated sectarianism.
Mutiny at The Tall Ship, 1899
Wayward sea captain Kip McMichaels was tamed when he fell in love with Kara Conway, heiress of Conway Spices. He literally swept Kara off her feet. Kara’s father, Thomas Conway, the rich and ruthless business trader, was outraged. He wanted a suitable heir to his empire and Kip McMichaels was nothing more than a vagabond seaman who didn’t deserve his military rank.
Captain Kip McMichaels was a determined man and attempted to elope with Kara in the still of the night. Thomas Conway had other ideas. Brandishing a pistol - and his mind drenched in whisky - Conway blocked the lovers’ path. Kip refused to surrender Kara and a row broke out. Thomas Conway mercilessly shot McMichaels dead. Kara never forgave her father – she was pregnant with Kip’s son.
Soon after, Kara Conway gave birth to a beautiful boy. A generation later, Rose was born. She is the granddaughter of Kara Conway, and she's Malcolm’s late wife! It’s no coincidence that the Conway coat of arms carries a rose, the symbol of beauty and grace.
The ghost of Kip McMichaels is said to roam Shieldinch, weeping for his lost love Kara.
Thomas Conway died shortly after in 1901, his heart broken by an unforgiving daughter.
The Shieldinch Memorial Drinking Fountain
This unique cast-iron fountain was erected in 1901, in memory of the great Thomas Conway, owner of Conway Spices.
The Wash House
With its entrance tucked away in a quiet square, the wash house saw a great deal of clandestine activity. Years later, Malcolm kissed Rose there for the first time. She caught his eye at a dance hosted by Conway Spices - it was the culmination of a long courtship.
Poor old Malcolm had spent a small fortune buying her tea in The Oyster and fresh cream cakes from the bakery – now Montego Deli.
The Depression and Shieldinch’s Great Fire, 1935
The 1930s Depression hit Glasgow hard. In Shieldinch, poverty and decay was rife and the town became a breeding ground for delinquents. These ‘newcomers’ set fire to the redundant boatyard, which also destroyed adjacent buildings. The site was derelict for some years until the 1950s. The area was rebuilt and now houses Moda Vida and the doctor’s surgery.