puffers & vics




Swan,  Kelvin Dock




Although the first officially recorded vessel built by Swan at Kelvin Dock is the first ever puffer the Glasgow  in 1857, records indicate that they were building ships there as far back as 1837 and I have been informed by the great-great-great grandaughter of David and Janet Swan that her family research has revealed David working there in 1840.  The earliest recorded building yard, in 1837, was located in the docks complex adjacent to the flight of locks on the Forth and Clyde Canal at Maryhill.   Over the ensuing years they built many more puffers under a number of different members of the Swan family and with partners, including as Cumming & Swan, and as J & R Swan in the 1860s, and William Swan in the 1870s and 80s.

The name Marshall appears in the records in the  1890s and Richard Munro & Co is regustered at the same address between 1910 and 1922, but so far I have no details of the specific relationships of the latter companies to the Swan family. I can only assume that the business was sold by them sometine around 1890.

The business was sold to McNicol Brothers in 1922. From then the yard was in a steady decline when it was saved by being contracted to build landing craft during WW2. It was in this period that the building berth was enclosed in a roofed building to allow work to continue day and night in all weathers.

The Kelvin Dock itself is the only evidence of the yard's existence which remains, as seen in this photograph taken in October 2010. The name itself appears to be remembered only by having been taken by a nearby pub. The dock entrance gates look to be in good condition, at least what of them can be seen above the water, and the stonework around the side has also been maintained.  It is a great pity that there is nothing other than a pub to commemorate this very important place in the history of Central Scotland, not even a simple plaque. At least the British Waterways Board are putting some effort into keeping the canal an attractive environment, but that's just not enough.