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Prince's Dock and Pumping Station
Govan Road, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Prince's Dock and Pumping Station
associated engineer
James Deas
date  1886 - 10th September 1897
era  Victorian  |  category  Docks/Slipway  |  reference  NS562650
ICE reference number  HEW 2556
photo  © and licensed for reuse under this
Now reduced in size but still substantial, Prince's Dock on the Clyde in Glasgow, east of Govan, was once surrounded by two-storey warehouses — which was unusual for the city. The many hydraulically-driven cranes, lifts, capstans, pumps, etc., that once served the ships that docked here, were powered by the red brick pumping station located to the east of the main basin.
Known as Cessnock Dock during construction, Prince's Dock was renamed at its formal opening by the Duchess of York (wife of the future King George V) on 10th September 1897. The Act of Parliament that enabled its construction had been passed in 1883.
Prince's Dock is tidal, as the River Clyde is at this point, with no locks at its entrance. It was designed by James Deas (1827-99), who had been appointed Engineer to the Clyde Navigation Trust in 1869. Work began in 1886 and the last coping stone was laid on 2nd October 1896.
The dock lies on the south side of the Clyde, with its entrance in the north-west corner. The entry channel is 610m long by 335m wide and leads to a large canting basin (which allowed ships to turn around) — the area of water that remains today. To the east were three parallel basins, each 61m wide and 7.6m deep, surrounded by more than 3km of quays. The picture above was taken in 1968 and shows the view across the canting basin to one of the parallel basins. The total construction cost was £1.5m, excluding land purchases.
Deas devised an ingenious system of segmented precast-concrete hollow cylindrical foundations for constructing the quay walls in soft ground. The cylinders were arranged in connecting groups of three, like clover leaves in section. Each triple pile consisted of 10 rings 762mm high and one 457mm high, with a cast iron shoe at the base, making a total height of 8.53m.
During placement, specially designed excavators dug out the sand and gravel from the cylinders. Segmental weights of 305-406 tonnes were required to force each group of cylinders down, to 15.2m below dock coping level. The cavities were then filled with concrete.
The red brick pumping station (NS569650) is now a long way from the water's edge, to the east — as the intervening dock basins were filled in to create a site for Glasgow's Garden Festival of 1988. The pumping station produced hydraulic power at a pressure of 5,171kN per sq m, obtained from an accumulator with a 510mm diameter ram and 6.1m stroke.
The pumping station is the dock’s main historical architectural feature. It dates from 1894 and was designed by J.J. Burnett and J.A. Campbell. It has a massive square water tower on its north side, with ornamental corbelling, that provided a head of water to the accumulator. Another accumulator tower (NS561649), of three storeys, was added at the south west corner of the dock in 1911-12.
On the south side of the main building is an octagonal red brick chimney with eight sculpted panels representing winds, inspired by the 'Tower of the Winds' at Athens. Originally 52.6m tall, in 1927 the chimney was shortened to 16.8m.
The original hydraulic equipment remains in place inside two tall riveted cylinders in the first accumulator tower, which has been conserved. The whole pumping station has been listed as Category A since December 1970.
Prince’s Dock was in use until the 1970s. The majority of the dock area was infilled in the 1980s for the Garden Festival, and part of the festival site was redeveloped for housing on its completion. Some green space created remains as the 4ha Festival Park.
After Prince's Dock closed, the pumping station was abandoned and became derelict. It was restored in 1988 as a tram depot for the Garden Festival. The building has been in use as commercial offices since about 2005.
Resident engineer: Archibald Hamilton
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SLB

Prince's Dock and Pumping Station