Shipbuilding on the River Clyde fuelled Glasgow’s growth for decades. But as demand for naval manufacturing declined in the second half of the twentieth century, the city was forced to look to new markets.
Now bold plans are set to breathe new life into one of the brownfield sites on the banks of the Clyde. Glasgow-based marine engineering firm Malin Group has announced that it has taken ownership of an old oil refinery near the Erskine Bridge, and aims to transform it into a cutting-edge maritime technology hub.
John MacSween, Managing Director of Malin Group stressed that the manufacturing pedigree of the Clyde should not be lost in spite of a downturn in interest. MacSween said: “The heritage of the Clyde is something we should be rightly proud of. We ourselves have been working on the river in the shipping industry for more than 100 years. But there is a need to be looking to the future as well to ensure the long term success of the Clyde as a maritime centre of excellence.”
The 47-acre Carless refinery is situated on a large site to the south-west of Old Kilpatrick, next to the Clyde in West Dunbartonshire. In 1992 oil refining operations ceased and since then the site has been left vacant. Malin Group have expressed hope to reinvigorate the patch, and by extension, the Clyde, by attracting new build projects.
“What we are hoping to achieve at our Carless site is to compliment these activities and bring other clients, companies and interests to the region. We are looking to create a marine technology hub which brings together providers of research, skills, development, design, manufacturing and practical marine operational and logistics experience in a location that has complementary facilities backed by direct access to the deepwater channel of the Clyde.
“Due to its industrial heritage the land requires considerable remediation before it can be put to use. However, to exploit our positive heritage, we must address the negative. Simply leaving it until the economics stacked up for a housing development would have been a shame and, we feel, a real missed opportunity.”
Adrian Gillespie, Managing Director of Scottish Enterprise, said: “We are delighted to hear about Malin’s ambitious and visionary plans to revitalise the former Carless Oil Refinery site in West Dunbartonshire. We look forward to working with the company to support their plans.”
Malin have previously demonstrated their commitment to the heritage of the Clyde by moving its head office to the river’s renovated South Rotunda, one of the few original Clydeside buildings left in the area.