infobox UK place
country = Scotland
official_name= Govan
gaelic_name= Baile a' Ghobhainn
os_grid_reference= NS555655
latitude= 55.861485
longitude= -4.308304
unitary_scotland= City of Glasgow
lieutenancy_scotland= Glasgow
constituency_westminster= Glasgow South West
constituency_scottish_parliament= Glasgow Govan
post_town= GLASGOW
postcode_district = G51
postcode_area= G
dial_code= 0141
edinburgh_distance= convert|45|mi|km|abbr=on E
london_distance= convert|346|mi|km|abbr=on SSE

static_image_caption=Govan Town Hall

Govan (Scottish Gaelic: "Baile a' Ghobhainn") is a district and former burgh in the southwestern part of the City of Glasgow, Scotland. It is situated convert|2.5|mi|km|1|lk=on west of Glasgow City Centre, on the south bank of the River Clyde, opposite the mouth of the River Kelvin and the district of Partick.

A monastery under the Columbanus Monastic Rule was founded in Govan in the 6th century by King Constantine of Cornwall. During the Middle Ages, Govan was the site of a ferry which linked the area with Partick for seasonal cattle drovers. In the 18th and 19th centuries weaving and coal mining were important and in the early 19th century shipbuilding emerged as Govan's principal industry. In 1864, Govan gained burgh status, and was Scotland's fifth largest burgh. It was incorporated into the city of Glasgow in 1912.


Early history

Recent studies of the archaeology of old Govan have revealed the presence of a Christian church. Two associated Christian burials are radiocarbon dated to the 5th or 6th centuries making Govan the earliest known Christian site in the region. [Driscoll, Stephen, "Govan, an early medieval royal centre", p. 79.] At this time Govan is believed to have formed part of a kingdom ruled from Dumbarton Rock, known as "Alt Clut", the rock on the Clyde. During the Viking Age, perhaps following the sack of Dumbarton Rock in 878, Govan is believed to have been one of the major centres of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. According to John of Fordun, Constantine, a 7th century King of Strathclyde, founded a monastery at Govan, where he died and was buried. In 1855, an elaborately carved sandstone sarcophagus was found during digging in the churchyard. It now resides inside the church and is thought to have contained the relics of Constantine.

Govan's earliest recorded name may be found in the "Historia Regnum Anglorum" attributed to Symeon of Durham. This is a 12th century Latin source, but one believed to be based on much earlier materials, which records a place near Dumbarton Rock named "Ouania". Based on this, Govan's Cumbric language named has been reconstructed as *"(G)uovan". [Koch, John, "Ovania", p. 34.] Govan is "Bàile Ghobhainn", 'smith's town' in Scottish Gaelic. Bishop Leslie in his "Scotia Descriptio" of 1578 says it got its name from the excellence of its ale "(God-win)" whereas Chalmers in his "Caledonia" says it is derived from Scottish Gaelic, "Gamhan", 'a ditch'.A History Of Glasgow & Govan (1883), "Ordnance Gazetteer Of Scotland"]

The earliest references to Govan are found in connection with the Christian church. In 1136, when Glasgow Cathedral was formally consecrated, King David I (1124-53) gave to the See the lands of Partick and also of the church at Govan (on opposite sides of the River Clyde), which became a prebend of Glasgow. The Govan Old Parish Church was rebuilt in 1762, 1826, and again 1884-1888. Within it and its roughly circular churchyard is one of the finest collections of Early Christian stones in the United Kingdom, dating from the 10th and 11th centuries.

By the 16th century, there were extensive coal mine workings around Craigton and Drumoyne. As the village grew, new trades and crafts, such as weaving, pottery and agriculture, were established.

There is an oddity whereby part of eighteenth century parish of Govan (which was in Lanarkshire) is counted as being within Renfrewshire. There existed a hospital in the area, and as quasi-religious foundations were not taxed, it had never been assigned to a sheriffdom. Thus, when Renfrewshire was created out of a sheriffdom of Lanarkshire in the early fifteenth century, the lands associated with the hospital (Polmadie) were not technically in the newly created shire, as they were not part of the sheriffdom. They were, however, very much a part of the physical landscape that became Renfrewshire. A similar uncertainty existed regarding the nearby lands of Pollokshields and Westends. Life proceeded apace and people simply lived with the inconsistency in the records. There was no real problem until a railroad was to be built in the late nineteenth century, and there was discomfort over the proper descriptions in the land titles that were needed. The solution was straightforward and simple: to the description of these lands were added the words, "but now by annexation in the County of Renfrew." [Citation
contribution=Notes on the Lands of Polmadie and Crosshill
title=Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society
publisher=James Maclehose & Sons
(available at

By the early part of the 19th century, Govan was rapidly losing its rural appearance and assuming the character of a town as other industries, including Reid's Dye Works and Pollok's Silk Mill, established themselves. Shipbuilding accelerated this change most prominently, with the deepening of the Clyde in 1759, the reclamation of the channels between the islands (The Whyte Inch, The Black Inch, and The King's Inch), and the construction of quays and docks. By the 1860s, it was obvious that a proper administration was required, and the village was made a burgh in 1864, under the General Police (Scotland) Act 1862. With Morris Pollok as its first Provost, the Burgh and its Commissioners ensured that over the next 48 years Govan became a well equipped, modern town. During the 19th century, the population of Govan increased from 9,000 in 1864 to 95,000 by 1907. Indeed in 1901 Govan was the 7th largest town in Scotland. [1911 Britannica Encyclopedia - Scotland [] ] In 1912, Govan was annexed to Glasgow.

A prominent feature of the Govan landscape was the Doomster or Moot Hill, which stood near the river, north of the present Govan Cross. It was removed in the early 19th century and Reid's Dyeworks erected on the site. The origins of the Doomster Hill are a mystery. One hypothesis is that it was a prehistoric burial mound. In 1996, a team from Channel 4's "Time Team" programme carried out a dig at the site. They suggested that it could be a 12th century Norman motte.

A useful reference source for this period is given below.T C F Brotchie (1905 & 1938), "History of Govan", Cossar Ltd]

20th century to the Present

Traditionally viewed as a working-class area, Govan has been a hotbed of support for the Labour Party, but the Scottish National Party (SNP) is strong there as well and in 1973 won a by-election with Margo MacDonald as their candidate. The SNP won another by-election victory in 1988, this time with Jim Sillars as candidate. The latest victory for the SNP was in the 2007 Scottish parliamentary elections when Nicola Sturgeon became the MSP for the constituency.

The area has had a reputation for deprivation and poverty, partly due to the construction of housing estates in the 1930s to relieve the overcrowded slum district of The Gorbals, Glasgow. The most famous of these housing estates is Moorpark, sometimes referred to jocularly as "The Wine Alley" which was parodied by the BBC sitcom "Rab C. Nesbitt". Although Govan was used as a setting for the show, it was seldom filmed there. In the post-war years, many Govanites were relocated, often reluctantly, from the town to outlying areas such as Drumchapel, Pollok, Darnley, Priesthill and Penilee by the Corporation of Glasgow.

Despite these developments, there were numerous older buildings around Govan until quite recently, most notably the terraces and tenements situated around Goven Road. These were not cleared until well into the 1970s.

Due to boundary changes, Govan in the early-1960's incorporated some surrounding more prosperous areas at its boundaries. Although technically part of Govan, these areas always regarded themselves as separate.

In the 1930s the Reverend George MacLeod - one of the Church of Scotland's best known ministers - was minister at Govan Old Parish Church. He founded the Iona Community, whose offices are still based in Govan.


Govan was at one stage the centre of the world-renowned Clydeside shipbuilding industry, although few yards remain today. Those that do are under almost constant financial threat. Govan remains one of two large shipyards to survive, the other being Yarrow Shipbuilders Limited. Both of these yards form a large part of BVT Surface Fleet.

Govan shipyard was founded in the 1860s as Randolph, Elder and Company, later John Elder and Company. In 1885 the yard was reorganised as the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd. This company continued until 1965 when it filed for bankruptcy. In response, the yard was again reorganised in 1966 as Fairfields, which was guaranteed by the government. The following year Fairfields and the other major Clydeside yards (Stephens, Connels, YSL and Browns) were merged to form Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, (UCS).

In 1971 the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders went into receivership and the Tory government under Edward Heath refused it a £6m loan. Rather than go on strike, which was the traditional form of industrial action, the union leadership of the yards decided to have a work-in and complete the orders that the shipyards had in place. In this way they dispelled the idea of the workers being 'work-shy' and also wanted to illustrate the long-term viability of the yards. The work-in was successful in the short-term. YSL withdrew from UCS in 1971 and Govan was sold off in 1973 as Govan Shipbuilders. Fact|date=June 2007

In 1977 the Labour government of James Callaghan passed the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act which nationalised Govan and grouped it with other major British shipyards as British Shipbuilders. In May 1979 Margaret Thatcher was elected as Prime Minister and her administration soon began its privatisation programme. British Aerospace, established by the same act, was privatised in 1981. British Shipbuilders' road to privatisation was not as swift, and the group was sold piece by piece throughout the decade.

Kværner of Norway, as part of a planned development of a large international shipbuilding group, took over Govan. [Birkler, J.L. "et al." (2002). [,M1 "The Royal Navy's New-generation Type 45 Destroyer: Acquisition Options and Implications," p. 13.] ] British Shipbuilders' sale of Govan to the Norwegian firm was completed in 1988.Birkler, [,M1 p. 14.] ]

In 1999, GEC's Marconi Marine division purchased the yard when Kværner announced its exit from the shipbuilding industry. [see above] ] GEC's Marconi Marine division already owned YSL (purchased in 1985) and VSEL (purchased in 1995). Marconi Electronic Systems and its Marconi Marine unit were sold to British Aerospace in 1999 to form BAE Systems. The shipbuilding operations became BAE Systems Marine, now part of BVT Surface Fleet, a naval shipbuilding joint venture between BAE Systems and VT Group.

hips built at Govan

*HMS "Northampton" (1876)
*HMS "Nelson" (1876)
*SS "Arizona" (1879)Johnston, Ian. "Govan Shipyard" in [ "Ships Monthly."] June 1985.]
*"Ibis" (1886)Clydebuilt Database - Shipping Times, Stuart Cameron]
*"Akasha" (1886)Clydebuilt Database - Shipping Times, Stuart Cameron]
* "Livadia" (1880) [see above] ]
* "Victoria" (1886)dn [see above] ]
*RMS "Campania" (1891)
*RMS "Lucania" (1893)
*HMS "Cressy" (1899)
*HMS "Aboukir" (1900)
*SS "Armadale Castle" (1903) [see above] ]
*HMS "Cochrane" (1905) [see above] ]
*HMS "Commonwealth" (1905) [see above] ]
*RMS "Empress Of Britain" (1906) [see above] ]
*RMS "Empress Of Ireland" (1906) [see above] ]
*HMS "Indomitable" (1907) [see above] ]
*SS "Balmoral Castle" (1910) [see above] ]
*HMS "New Zealand" (1911)
*HMAS "Sydney" (1912)
*RMS "Empress of Russia" (1913) [see above] ]
*RMS "Empress of Asia" (1913) [see above] ]
*SS "Calgarian" (1913) [see above] ]
*HMS "Valiant" (1914)
*HMS "Renown" (1916)
*RMS "Empress of Canada" (1922) [see above] ]
*SS "Athenia" (1922)
*"Aorangi" (1922)
*TSS "Tuscania" (1923)
*SS "Letitia" (1924)
*MV "Speybank" (1926)
*HMS "Berwick" (1926)
*HMS "Norfolk" (1928)
*RMS "Empress of Japan" (1930)
*HMS "Delight" (1932)
*HMS "Woolwich" (1934)
*HMS "Liverpool" (1937)
*HMS "Phoebe" (1937)
*HMS "Howe" (1940)
*HMS "Bellona" (1942)
*HMS "Implacable" (1942)
*HMS "Theseus" (1944)
*HMS "Chichester"
*HMS "Blake" (1945)
*SS "Karanja" (1948)
*TS "Oxfordshire" (1955)
* TS/SS "Empress of Britain" (1956)Clydebuilt Database - Shipping Times, Stuart Cameron] [cite web | url = | title = Shipping Times | accessdate = 2008-03-17 ]
*TS "Leecliffe Hall" (1961)
*HMS "Fife" (1964)
*HMS "Antrim" (1967)
*USNS "Harkness" (1968)
*HMAS "Jervis Bay" (1969)
*"Pacifique" (1969)
*USNS "Chauvenet" (1970)
*"Pacific Peace" (1981)
*MV "Selkirk Settler" (1983)
*MV "Saskatchewan Pioneer" (1983)
*"St. Lawrence Seaway" (1983)
*"Sir Charles Parsons" (1985)
*MV "Norsea" (1986)
*MV "Havis" (1992)
*"Sea Launch Commander" (1996)
*RFA "Wave Ruler" (2003) [Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA): [ RFA "Wave Ruler"] ]
*RFA "Mounts Bay" (2004) [Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA): [ RFA "Mounts Bay"] ]
*HMS "Dauntless" (2007)
*HMS "Diamond" (2007)


Govan is served by Govan subway station on the Glasgow subway system.

Govan railway station opened on 2 December 1868. It closed permanently to regular passenger services on 9 May 1921.

Regular bus services, mainly operated by Arriva and First Bus, offer frequent routes to Glasgow City Centre, as well as to numerous locations in Renfrewshire.


Govan borders the district of Ibrox home since 1899 to the well known football club Rangers FC. The Ibrox Stadium, (home to Rangers F.C.) has a stand named for Govan with the stadium itself being 1 of only 27 football stadiums in Europe to be ranked by UEFA as a 5-star stadium. This stadium has staged many great games, but was scene of one of the world's worst sporting tragedies in January 1971, when 66 Rangers fans were trampled to death on the terracing. Govan is home to the popular Scottish junior football team Benburb F.C. who play at Tinto Park, Craigton. They share a rivalry with St Anthony's F.C. who once hailed from the Helen Street district of Govan but who are now based further to the west at Cardonald. Linthouse F.C. were a successful senior side, who fell into decline and are now defunct.


Govan is served by community Radio Station [ Sunny Govan] broadcasting on 103.5FM to the city of Glasgow and surrounding districts.

Govan has had several local newspapers over the years such as the "Govan Press" published by the Cossar Family (1851-1983 & 2006 - present) which also serves the communities of Cardonald, Penilee and Hillington and the "Govan Post" (1983-1988) published by Cook, Paton & Co. of Paisley, now part of Dunfermline Press.

Notable people

* Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United was born in a council house on Shieldhall Road on 31 December 1941 but moved into a tenement at 667 Govan Road shortly after his birth and lived there until the mid 1960s. The tenement block where he lived has since been demolished. In the 1970s he ran a pub in the district, formerly the Burns Cottage, and named it Fergie's.
* Leo Blair, the father of Tony Blair, was brought up in Govan by his adoptive parents. He lived in Golspie Street and attended Govan High School.
*Gordon Brown was born in Govan [cite news|title =From education to politics: always top of the class|publisher = The Dundee Courier|date = 2007-06-27|accessdate = 2007-07-06|url = ] [ [ FAMOUS FOLK] , Kirkcaldy Civic Society]
* Johnny Quigley, the Nottingham Forest legend was instrumental in Forest's 1959 F.A Cup win over Luton Town, Johnny was born 28 June 1935 in Orkney Street and brought up in Dunsmuir Street he started his football career with St Anthony's F.C.
* Elish Angiolini grew up in Brighton Place north of Copland Road subway station and in 2006 became the first female Lord Advocate for Scotland.
* Billy Davies, former manager of Derby County and Preston North End
* Joe McBride, played for Celtic, Hibernian, Motherwell and Dunfermline Athletic.
* Jimmy Calderwood, manager of Aberdeen F.C.
* Stacey Borland, Miss Sweden 2007
* Brian Quinn former chairman of Celtic F.C. and former deputy governor of the Bank of England.




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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Govan —    GOVAN, a parish, chiefly in the Lower ward of the county of Lanark, but partly in the Upper ward of the county of Renfrew; including the village of Strathbungo, and the late quoad sacra district of Partick; and containing 7810 inhabitants, of… …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

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  • Govan — Govan, SC U.S. town in South Carolina Population (2000): 67 Housing Units (2000): 37 Land area (2000): 0.754771 sq. miles (1.954849 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.754771 sq. miles (1.954849 sq …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Govan, SC — U.S. town in South Carolina Population (2000): 67 Housing Units (2000): 37 Land area (2000): 0.754771 sq. miles (1.954849 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.754771 sq. miles (1.954849 sq. km) FIPS …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Govan — Govan, Stadt in Lanarkshire (Schottland), westlicher Vorort von Glasgow, links am Clyde, mit großen Schiffswerften, Maschinenfabriken, Eisengießereien, Fabrikation von Eisen und Bronzewaren und (1901) 76,351 Einw …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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  • Govan — This is a very early Scottish locational surname, and one that should perhaps be better known. It originates from the lands of Govan, on the River Clyde, and in the county of Lanarkshire. It is one of the most ancient of all Scottish surnames,… …   Surnames reference

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