Letter: Pride of the Clyde

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The Independent Online
Sir: The decision by the Ministry of Defence to shortlist either Manchester or Leith as the final resting place for the Royal Yacht Britannia (report, 11 December) appears to be based solely on the ability of a wealthy company in each of these places to advance money for preservation. Scant attention seems to have been paid to British maritime heritage issues and more particularly to that of the river Clyde.

Britannia's importance, to any other place, is only as a very distinguished royal yacht. To Clydeside she is of great significance as a fine turbine- powered steamship created on this renowned shipbuilding river.

It was the development of steam power on the Clyde that, from 1812 onwards, led to the Clyde becoming the most famous shipbuilding river in the world. By around 1900 half of all steamships in the world were Clyde-built. There is not at present any adequate material tribute. The Clyde Heritage Trust has proposed the creation of the Clyde Maritime Heritage Park at the Govan dry docks complex in Glasgow. This development would be an international- class attraction, drawing some 350,000 visitors annually, and creating 600 jobs.

In this exciting development the ship taking pride of place would require at least some of these qualities: she must be Clyde-built; of reasonable proportions; a good example of a particular power era; preferably having been well maintained during her life; with historic associations and a unique ability to attract visitors.

Britannia is the only existing Clyde-built ship possessing all of these qualities. She represents the last chance for Clydeside to acquire a suitable example of over thirty thousand ships it has built.


Cardross, Dunbartonshire