Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Greenock and Lyle Hill

Situated on a steep north-facing slope, Greenock recieves more rain than anywhere else in the Lowlands. It is the heart of Inverclyde - one of the most deprived areas in Scotland. It was once one of Britain's major ports - hundreds if not thousands of emigrant ships sailed for the New World from Greenock, and it was the major landing point for Glasgow before the dredging of the Clyde. It has a particularly handsome town hall, built at the height of its prosperity, and is the home town of James Watt and the pirate Captain Kidd. There is still a shipyard (Fergusons) in the area, and plenty of freight activity, but the tide of economic activity has receeded from Greenock; leaving behind, similar to many former mining villages, a larger population than the local economy can usefully employ. But still people stick it out in Greenock, hoping to transform the town and ensure a good future for the area.

And, you may ask, why shouldn't they? When the road above town has a view like this?

Clyde from Lyle Hill:


Unknown said...

I have little affection for Greenock despite having been born there. The best thing about the place is the view!

Robert Craig said...

Wanting to get the hell out as soon as possible is a defining experience in most Scottish towns.

I grew up in Helensburgh (could have waved at you across the water in Greenock!) and despite Helensburgh's reputation as an upmarket town, the amount of teenagers who couldn't wait to leave and called it 'Hellburgh' was striking.

The cities are different (plenty of Edinbores and Weegie lovers out there), perhaps because there is a critical mass of diversity and things to do, but Scottish small towns seem purposely designed to encourage emigration.

PurestGreen said...

Great shot. My boyfriend is from Greenock and I spent some time exploring the town before he moved to Edinburgh. There is a lot of beauty in the area that I think gets missed because of its rough reputation.

Jane said...

This is a lovely photo of my favourite view of all time!! I love Greenock, went to school there for a while and have many happy memories of good times there. My relatives were very proud of the town and I find it sad that it now has a bad reputation and many people can't wait to leave.

Robert Craig said...

It is a shame what has happened to a lot of Scottish (and not just Scottish) towns since the 70s. It seems especially striking given the contrast between nearby places like Loch Lomond and the Vale of Leven or Greenock and Cowal: the grim and the picturesque cheek by jowl.

David said...

Auspiciously I came across this blog by google imaging 'Lyle Hill'.

This is a view over Gourock...but I find it a little bit patronising the way you describe Greenock and the idea that everyone is "sticking it out". It's like reverse parochialism your attitude.

My family are from there and while it [Inverclyde] does have its problems - like lots of post-industrial Britain - it is still a very diverse area including places like Kilmacolm which has more grand villas than almost any other village in Scotland to James Millar's awesome Weymss Bay station.

And yes, the vistas are incredible.

Robert Craig said...

Good on you for standing up for Greenock David, though I'd be amazed if you found anyone from Kilmacolm who admitted being from Inverclyde - do they not prefer the appellation Renfrewshire?

I suppose I have been a bit of a reverse parochalist - nice phrase by the way - in chafing against the limitations of my hometown and wanting out, but that seems to be universal amongst most teenagers in Scotland (Britain? The world?) whatever their wee towns are like.

David said...

If you must know, my mum is a social worker in Inverclyde and you would be surprised to hear there is a bit of council housing in Kilmacolm - and it has its problems too!

I have never met anyone from Kilmacolm who claims that Renfrewshire is somehow superior to Inverclyde (they might wish they were in East Renfrewshire, however!) Most of St Columba's [the private school in Kilmacolm] feeds from the Inverclyde area.

In reality, the choice is over whether they want to send their children to Greenock Academy (one of the top comprehensives in Scotland) or Gryffe Academy to the absolute disadvantage to Port Glasgow High.

I am not sure how much you know about Greenock or its surrounding area, but you'd be surprised to know that Greenock's West End is one of the finest in Scotland. That sugar and shipbuilding certainly left a legacy.

I live in London so can empathise with small town mentality but all I wanted to highlight is that sometimes its harder to stay and make a difference. Add into that, that people [including my brother] actually enjoy living there.


Anonymous said...

I love Greenock! I have never been happier than when living in Scotland. It has got the nicest people.

madhatter said...

I moved myself and my family from england to greenock, i stuck it out for just over a year and i ran for the hills, ive never seen a place thats so behind in its times.
Full of drugies and crime.
Bringing a child up in a area like this would be the worst decision of your life. Even then schools are backwards. People that have grown up in a place like this dont know any better, but i know life in other places and i couldnt get my son to a normal way of life quick enough.
The only thing i can say thats nice about greenock is the views when its not raining and that isnt much. If you are considering moving there please take my advice and dont make the same mistake as i did...