Posted: 16 May 2023

The West Boathouse on Glasgow Green celebrated its grand reopening on Sunday 14th May.

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the two year restoration project completed in December 2022, securing a riverside landmark in the heart of Glasgow Green for future generations. 

“Up the watter” opening Event

Over 250 people joined Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, Tokyo Olympic Silver Medallist Harry Leask and representatives from funders, project partners, volunteers and the rowing community to officially re-open the West boathouse. A flotilla of boats carried a specially commissioned flag down the River Clyde where is was raised to commemorate its re-opening 118 years after it first opened its doors. A packed day of events along the Clyde from the Cunnigar Loop to Glasgow Green included crafting activities, walks, talks, tours, rowing demonstrations, music and an appearance from Clota, The ancient and venerable River Goddess of the Clyde.  

Boathouse Opening 1905 Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club archive

The Project

Over five years in development and two years in delivery, the West Boathouse project has repaired and adapted a beautiful listed building, improving accessibility and providing new facilities and flexible, multi-use spaces. A new bespoke pontoon funded with support from sportscotland allows safer access to the river for a wide range of groups. The renovation project has run in tandem with community heritage activities to open the building to new audiences and encourage people to re-engage with the River Clyde.

Glasgow Building Preservation Trust (GBPT) worked with volunteers from the two rowing clubs based in the West Boathouse, Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club and Clyde Amateur Rowing Club, to secure its future and encourage new users and audiences into the building and onto the river. The £3.05m project was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, The Robertson Trust, Glasgow City Council, the William Grant Foundation, The Hugh Fraser Foundation, the Architectural Heritage Fund and many others.

No2 WestBoathouse FlotillaCuningarLoop 008

The  renovation and renewal was led by ARPL Architects and overseen by Glasgow Building Preservation Trust. The project has sensitively restored and futureproofed the building for many years to come.

As part of the National Lottery Heritage funded project, a program of events and outreach was coordinated and delivered by a dedicated heritage engagement officer, embedded within the project since 2019. We have worked with communities living and working along the river from Glasgow Green to the Cuningar Loop. The rich heritage of the area includes a wealth of stories and places to explore, from rowing clubs to bowling greens, audacious schemes to straighten the river, dye works and bandana factories to historic court cases ensuring Glaswegian's access rights to the riverbanks. The programme has included boatbuilding with volunteers from Glasgow Disability Alliance, developing nature walks along the banks of the river and celebrating the sporting heritage of the east end of the city.

No3 WestBoathouse Opening 024

The Building

Built in 1905 for Clyde ARC and Clydesdale ARC, the West Boathouse is Category B Listed, architecturally significant and a prominent local landmark on Glasgow Green. It features an unusual timber-framed superstructure designed by city engineer A B MacDonald. Strathclyde University Boat Club has also joined Clydesdale and Clyde ARC in the restored building which is on a long term lease from its owner Glasgow City Council. 

Liz Davidson, Chair of Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, said:

“It’s wonderful to celebrate the reopening of the West Boathouse during Glasgow Building Preservation Trust’s 40th Anniversary Year. We’re delighted to have delivered a project which has preserved a key part of Glasgow’s architectural and sporting heritage and especially one where the country has achieved such success at Olympic and international level. Our Lottery Funded community activities reached out and helped people learn more about sport, history, ecology, and the importance of the River Clyde. It is fantastic to now see this landmark back in use as a busy hub for rowing and other activities for generations to come.”  

WB 2022 After PhotoCredit DavidCollie

 Caroline Clark, The National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland Director, said:

“Our new 10-year investment strategy Heritage 2033 has a focus on delivering long-term benefit for people, places and our natural environment. This project demonstrates how that works. Investing in the Boathouse has secured its future and preserved important sporting heritage. It has also delivered a much improved environment on this stretch of riverbank encouraging pride of place and supporting wider engagement with the river and its wildlife.”

Susan O'Connor, Head of Grants at Historic Environment Scotland, said: 

"It's fantastic to see the West Boathouse reopen after two years of restoration which we're proud to have funded. The Boathouse is a much-cherished piece of Glasgow Green’s history with a wonderfully prominent location, and we’re delighted to see it continue to be used for its original function. Not only is the building better preserved for future generations, but its improved accessibility means that even more people can enjoy this beautiful piece of our heritage."