The River Clyde is a name which has become synonymous with ships and shipbuilding worldwide. Even before the advent of steam, the riverbanks were lined with dozens of shipyards. The steam engine itself was developed on it’s banks and the first commercial steamships plied their trade on it’s waters in the middle of the 19th Century. Some of the world’s most famous ships, including the Cunard Queens, SS Lusitania, HMS Hood and countless others were constructed on her river banks. It is estimated that more than 25,000 vessels have been launched into the river since shipbuilding began there.
During both World Wars the upper river became a key base for vessels, both naval and merchant, arriving and departing on the North Atlantic convoy routes. This and the concentration of shipyards made the area an important target for the German Luftwaffe. The narrow portion of the upper Clyde was protected by a boom across the river from Gourock to Dunoon. In more modern times the sheltered nature of this part of the river resulted in it’s choice as a base for the now departed American nuclear submarines in Holy Loch. To this day the British nuclear submarine fleet is based at Faslane in the Gareloch.
As the river flows past the Cloch lighthouse it opens into the wide, deep expanse of the Firth of Clyde with it’s popular islands of Bute, Cumbrae and Arran. Here dozens of excursion steamships plied there trade in the latter years of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century mixing with the hundreds of trading steamships bringing goods from across the world to the ports at Greenock, Port Glasgow and the city of Glasgow itself. Geographically the Firth of Clyde ends with the imposing granite rock of Ailsa Craig off Girvan.
The concentration of shipping traffic has resulted in hundreds of shipwrecks in the area. Collisions were common, bad weather not unknown and the attentions of our country’s enemies during wartime and all have contributed to the underwater legacy. Many of the wrecks are deep but often in tact, some are smashed and scattered in shallower waters but almost always interesting encrusted and surrounded by sealife.
Area Wreck Map
Akka – Beagle – Captayannis – Empire Adventure – Esbo – Europa – Greenock – Iona I – Iris – Kintyre – Lady Isabella – Lairdscastle – Longwy – Louise – Moonlight II – Ovington – HMS Sealion – Topaz – Trygon – Tuscan – U-33 – Wallachia