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29 October 2014
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COAST
Ferry Chains
Clyde Ferries
As the settlement of Glasgow grew up along both banks of the Clyde, the need arose to communicate and travel between north of the river and the south side. The most obvious manner to cross the water was via a ferry service, and there was certainly a regular service operating at Renfrew by the 17th Century.

Another service sprang up between Govan and Partick, with the impetus coming from cattle drovers wishing to cross the river to reach their markets, although it seems hard to believe that two of the most industrialised and urban areas of the entire country once stood with cattle passing through the streets.

However, it was with the rapid growth of the 19th Century and the increasing role the river played in the life of the city at that time that the ferries across the Clyde really took off, and by the end of that century there were eight in operation.

A ferry on the lower Clyde
A ferry on the Lower Clyde

Most of the ferries' main traffic was bringing shipyard workers from their homes to the yards and back again, and in fact, some of the ferries went directly to jetties at particular shipyards.

However, just as with their rise, the decline of the Clyde led to the end of the ferries as well. By the 1960s the lessening of traffic had led many to close, and the extension of cross-river road traffic via the Clyde Tunnel and Kingston Bridge sounded the death-knell for the river craft.

The last ferry to cease operations was the Kelvinhaugh Ferry in 1982, although the Govan Ferry had come out of retirement in 1978, serving as a free mode of transport between Govan and Partick while the Glasgow Underground was refurbished. Today, there is continued talk of bringing a ferry back into use on the Clyde, although at the moment the only ferry active on the river is the Renfrew Ferry, which stands perpetually moored as a floating nightclub.

Directions: It's now a straight path all the way along to the Suspension Bridge at the end of the walk.

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