The Riverside Museum, the Tall Ship Glenlee, the BBC building, Glasgow Science Centre, and Braehead Shopping Centre are all close by, but Govan has a rich and diverse heritage of its own to be explored. Govan is a recognised conservation area with superb ‘A’ and ‘B’ listed buildings including Govan Old Parish Church the former Orkney Street Police Station designed by architect John Burnett in 1866. The Pearce Institute, gifted to the people of Govan in 1906 by the wife of Sir William Pearce, Chairman of Fairfield Shipbuilding Company, in memory of her husband.
Govan Old Parish Church
Open daily from April 1st – October 31st, 1pm to 4pm,
Telephone: (0141) 440 2466 Guided tours available,
Govan Old Church is an A-listed building of architectural and historic interest just a few minutes walk from Fairfield and beside the Pearce Institute at Govan Cross. It stands on the site of the site of the oldest known Christian settlement on the Clyde and is the successor there to four or five previous churches dating back to 450 – 550 AD. The building is considered a masterpiece of gothic revival architecture, completed in 1888 by the distinguished Scottish architect Robert Rowand Anderson whose radical response, through this project, to the Presbyterian tradition of the time led to Govan Old being described as the most influential Presbyterian church ever built.
Govan itself is believed to have been the administrative and ecclesiastical centre of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde, and a place of great importance when the formation of Scotland was taking place. The most startling evidence of this power is the impressive collection of medieval sculpture housed within Govan Old, which almost certainly comprises the gravestones of the ancient kings’ monuments erected with royal patronage between 900 – 1100 AD.
Among Scotland’s internationally renowned medieval sculpture, the Govan collection is remarkable for the quality and rarity of its content, its most outstanding piece being the Govan Sarcophagus, the only one of its kind carved from solid stone from pre-Norman northern Britain. The collection is the largest outside Iona and St Andrews, and the largest in Scotland from the 9th to 11th centuries.
In all, it amounts to 31 carved stones, which along with the graveyard from which they were recovered, now form a Scheduled Ancient Monument known as Govan, Carved Stones and Old Parish Church Graveyard. The collection comprises a sarcophagus, five hogback tombstones, two cross-shafts, two upright cross-slabs and 21 recumbent cross-slabs.
BBC Scotland’s headquarters at Pacific Quay provides free public tours on Saturdays but you must book in advance.
Check their website for more details: http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tours/pacificquay.shtml
Glasgow Museums’ Riverside Museum
Glasgow Museums opened the new Riverside Museum – Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel – on the opposite bank of the river on 21st June 2011. Here you can see models of some of the vessels made at Fairfield, including the Empress of Britain, as well as Riverside’s Wall of Cars and Hanging Bicycle Veldodrome.