Work started on the Municipal Buildings in and was completed in After the buildings were finished, further legal proceedings started and a court decision meant Robert Cowan had to move. The property at the corner of the square was destroyed during the Blitz of Despite Robert Cowan being forced out, it would appear the council could not proceed with any plans it had for the site prior to the Blitz.
A Telegraph story stated that only a few years earlier had Greenock Corporation managed to negotiate its purchase due to conflicting claims by descendants of the original owners. The article said that it had been suggested the corporation might finally be able to complete the Municipal Buildings to approximately the original designs. Cowan's Corner remains vacant but is a landscaped area with seating. Further evidence of this wealth can be seen in the large villas of Greenock's west end, one time home to the ship owners, industrialists and investors.
The area is fronted by the mile long 1. The War of reawakened fears of American raids against Britain's ports. Earlier gun batteries, had been dismantled, and in ground was granted for a battery at Whitefarland Point: Fort Matilda was completed in , and was sporadically modified over the century. The land to the west of this was common ground for inhabitants of the town, but in the Admiralty compulsorily purchased part of this land for a torpedo factory.
The remaining space was handed over to Greenock Corporation in as a public park.
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The site was tasked with designing and testing of torpedoes. These were then tested in Loch Long. During the Second World War the site switched entirely to manufacturing torpedoes. The original gun battery site was occupied by the Navy Buildings , the main offices, just to the east of the torpedo factory buildings. A church which became known as the Old West Kirk had been established in Greenock in under the patronage of John Schaw, the first built in Scotland since the Reformation.
It was extended over the years, at an early stage the Schaw aisle provided pews for the Laird of the Barony, built as a gallery to the east of the nave of the church. Opposite it, above the front entrance, is the Crawfurdsburn or Choir Gallery. At the south end of the nave, the Sailor's Loft gallery was built in , and features a 19th-century model frigate, which replaced earlier models. At the north end, the Farmer's Gallery is above the main seating area. A tower was added in the mid 19th century. The shipbuilders provided the Pirrie Hall to the south of the site: It then came into use as the church hall.
The Church has a website. Greenock suffered badly during the Second World War and its anchorage at the Tail of the Bank became the base for the Home Fleet as well as the main assembly point for Atlantic convoys. On the nights of 6 May and 7 May around Luftwaffe aircraft attacked the town in the Greenock Blitz. A large building housing a drapery business constructed on Cowan's property at the corner of the Municipal Buildings was badly damaged and was demolished, leaving the blank brick corner area still known as "Cowan's Corner".
This was later set as a garden for the blind. The original blank brick of Cowans Corner was covered in as part of the continuing work to improve the look of the town centre. Greenock thrived in the post-war years but as the heavy industries declined in the s and s unemployment became a major problem, and it has only been in the last ten years with reinvestment and the redevelopment of large sections of the town that the local economy has started to revive. Tourism has appeared as an unexpected bonus with the development of the Clydeport Container Terminal as an Ocean Terminal for cruise ships crossing the Atlantic.
Students who do not travel further afield for study often attend the Greenock campus of West College formerly known as James Watt College of Further and Higher Education. Greenock reached its population peak in 81, and was once the sixth largest town in Scotland. Until , Greenock was a parliamentary burgh in its own right. In , it became Greenock and Inverclyde. After the redistribution of Scottish seats, it was merged into an enlarged Inverclyde constituency — the first time in political history that Greenock has not been named in a parliamentary seat.
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Greenock and Inverclyde remains a Scottish Parliament constituency. Spango Valley is located to the west of the town. Historically, the town relied on shipbuilding , sugar refining and wool manufacturing for employment, but none of these industries are today part of Greenock's economy. More recently the town relied heavily on electronics manufacture. However, this has given way mostly to call centre business, insurance, banking and shipping export. The Fleming and Reid merino wool mill employed people — mostly women and produced wool garments spun and woven at the mill.
This mill was at the corner of Drumfrochar Road and Mill Road.
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As of October Greenock has an unemployment rate of 5. In the early 17th century, the first pier was built in Greenock. Shipbuilding was already an important employer by this time. The first proper harbour was constructed in and the first well-known shipbuilders, Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company , was established the following year. It was the oldest shipbuilding business in the world [ citation needed ] and gained numerous contracts with the Royal Navy from , building ships such as Glasgow. In Scott's was merged with Lithgows founded , later the largest privately owned yard in the world the same year becoming Scott Lithgow , which was later nationalised as part of British Shipbuilders in From the to many thousands of people worked to design, build and repair ships.
The reduction in shipbuilding in the s and s meant that none of these companies are still trading. Other marine engineering related companies included engine-makers — Kincaids, Scotts, Rankin and Blackmore which included the Eagle Foundry — ship repair Lamonts and Hasties for steering gear. Other yards included Cartsburn, Cartsdyke, and Klondyke — all of which closed during the s and s due to competition from South Korea and Japan. Part of the site of the Scott's yard, is now an EE call centre, and the Kingston Yard was redeveloped for housing.
On 1 May Clydeport stated that the drydock cranes are to be demolished.
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The same terminal is a regular port of call for cruise liners visiting the west of Scotland. Greenock was a regular port of call for Cunard Line and Canadian Pacific in the s and s. Ships on the Montreal to Liverpool transit would anchor at the Tail of the Bank off Greenock in the Firth of Clyde and steam paddlewheel ferries would service the liners. Greenock's attractive esplanade provides a gently curving riverside walk just over a mile 1. The present clubhouse dates from , and was subsequently extended. The buildings have now been demolished, as a site for blocks of flats off Eldon Street.
Sugar refining began in Greenock in Another 12 refineries were active at one point. It was formed from a merger in between Abram Lyle, who had expanded into Plaistow , and Henry Tate , who had set up a sugar refinery in Liverpool and had expanded into London. The James Watt Dock, opened in , provided shipping and shipbuilding facilities including a large warehouse known as the Sugar Shed which was used for both imported raw sugar, and refined sugar ready for delivery.
Tobacco from the Americas also arrived here.
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When Tate and Lyle finally closed its Greenock refinery in it brought to an end the town's year-old connections with sugar manufacture. A newly built sugar warehouse continued shipping operations at Greenock's Ocean Terminal. The former sugar warehouse at the James Watt Dock was by then scheduled as a category A listed building as a fine example of early industrial architecture, with an unusual feature of a colonnade of cast iron columns forming a sheltered unloading area next to the quayside.
This building has since lain empty, with various schemes being proposed for conversion and restoration. The photographs show the building still intact in February , but a fire on the evening of 12 June caused severe damage to much of the building before being brought under control in the early hours of 13 June. The local council confirmed that parts of the building will have to be taken down to ensure public safety, but promised an investigation and emphasised the importance of this world heritage building.
In , approval was given to proposals for a major regeneration project. Since IBM arrived in the town in , electronics and light manufacturing have, until recently, been the mainstay of local employment.
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Texas Instruments Formerly National Semiconductor has run a silicon wafer manufacturing plant in the town since However, with manufacturing moving to Eastern Europe and Asia, work has shifted to the service sector , especially call centres. IBM closed their entire factory in Greenock which is in the process of being demolished. Sanmina , another electronics company, took over much of the IBM installation but moved jobs to Hungary in The Spango Valley site was rebranded as "Valley Park" in late Greenock's main shopping thoroughfare was Hamilton Street, which connected West Blackhall Street in the west to Clyde Square in the east.
In it disappeared along with several other streets as the area was pedestrianised as Hamilton Way.