Giants of the Clyde, memory and post-industrial archaeology on Clydeside

  • Martin Conlon

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

This thesis seeks to explore the material culture of one remaining and one removed giant crane along the River Clyde. It approaches the cranes as individual sites of both remembering and forgetting. The many giant cantilever cranes that have stood along the River Clyde in Glasgow can be seen as totems of both the excellence of Clyde engineering and the dynamism of industrial Scotland. For the people and communities living and working around the river, the cranes symbolise the pride of being part of industrial Scotland, often being beacons of cultural identity locally and helping to define and reinforce community identity. Around 50 giant cranes were built, with ten left, four of which are in Scotland. This project considers Scotland's remaining and removed giant cranes through the memories and interactions of the people and communities that have existed around them. This thesis does not intend to make a case for their preservation, though aims to highlight the various ways in which these fragments of industrial archaeology have been perceived, reused and re-animated in a way that that can seek to inform the conservation processes of these structures, and of post-industrial archaeological sites in general. This thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining history and archaeology to explore the connections people have with industrial fragments. The thesis combines new oral history testimony, documentary source analysis and material culture studies to account for the post-industrial phases of these cranes. This thesis asserts that the cranes have, over time, transitioned from working objects to cultural artefacts, and that in studying them, a better understanding of the relationship that people have with deindustrialisation and post-industrialism on Clydeside can be found. The original contribution to knowledge comes via considering, for the first time, the post-industrial archaeology on Clydeside, and the wider materiality of industrial change, in a global context, adding to the emergent field of deindustrialisation studies.
Date of Award29 Mar 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorArthur McIvor (Supervisor) & Philip Cooke (Supervisor)

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