Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Glasgow Museum of Transport opens

Transport Museum by Paul Kennedy
Today sees the opening of Glasgow's new Transport Museum, housed in an utterly astonishing building designed by Zaha Hadid and built right in the heart of where ship-building on the upper Clyde started. It's more or less where Messrs D & W Henderson constructed gigantic racing yachts to designs of George Lennox Watson for characters such as Kaiser Bill and his uncle and sparring partner the Prince of Wales, about which I've already written here.

In common with many other Glaswegians I was introduced to the ship-models at Kelvingrove as a child and they soon became a weekend pilgrimage. I suffered real withdrawal symptoms when most of them later went into storage, there being insufficient space in the old transport museum. From the elegant creations of Watson and the Fifes to the battleships and liners of John Brown's they were an inspiring demonstration of the range of design and building skills to be found in and around the city in its industrial incarnation. It will be good to meet these old friends again, once the opening crowds have died down a bit.

The building is a huge shiny organic thing that snakes about on the banks of the river, perhaps like a metamorphosis of a few industrial sheds that have fused and twisted themselves together under some cosmic influence. It provides a perfect setting for the city's tall ship, the Glenlee, which together with the Waverley is virtually the last of our heritage still floating.

The Glenlee passes Ailsa Craig, by John Gardner

Like virtually all of Glasgow's municipal attractions the new museum is free. If there were no other this would be a good reason to visit the city. Details of the museum can be found here.

The Waverley passes down river, image by Paul Kennedy

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The Wherrymen

The Wherrymen
Two old friends on the water