The River Clyde flows through Glasgow, Scotland. After it was dredged in the 19th century, Clyde’s banks were lined with shipbuilders producing almost one-third of the world’s vessels. Only 2 remain. Elaborate models of proposed ships, everything from yachts to the Queen Elizabeth I and II, were made, and many of these models are on display in the Riverside Museum at 100 Pointhouse Place.
A model ship lovers dreamscape, Riverside opened in June, 2011, and won a European Museum of the Year Award in 2013. Reportedly £84 million was spent replacing a well-regarded transportation museum with a futuristic grey and glass building that looks like a modern cathedral on steroids on the outside. Built along the Clyde where a shipyard once stood, Riverside is full of touch screens, interactive stuff, and all forms-of-transportation displays. 1,500,000 people visited in its first year of operation.
Riverside has its critics. Many complain that too many historic cars are on undulating shelves and can’t be seen very well. This is true. One critic told me that it’s now like a warehouse and half the size of the previous museum, which isn’t true. It’s about the same. Perhaps it seems cramped to those who loved the old facility.
There are a couple of additions to the collection, like an impressively oversized South African Railways locomotive 3007. Built in Glasgow, this SAR class 15F steamer will certainly impress train enthusiasts. And there are displays for tram lovers, Anglia collectors, 50s fashions fans, those who remember the Lockerbie disaster, etc.
I didn’t see the old transport museum but the new one struck me as a stuffed-suggestion-box attraction that strives to impress but ends up frustrating. A museum that attempts to show examples of and tell you as much as possible about all forms of transportation throughout the history of a city like Glasgow is bound to overwhelm and result in limited focus on interesting details like….
Argyll set out to craft luxury motorcars in 1902. An opulent factory with marble staircase, deluxe washrooms, and gilded dome opened 4 years later in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. It employed a thousand people but went bankrupt in 2 years.
In addition to displaying the world’s oldest bicycle, The Riverside has a tribute to Graeme Obree, also known as The Flying Scotsman. Graeme broke the World Hour Record 2 times in the 1990s. The controversial bikes he competed on are on display. I had to look this competition up to be impressed. WHR measures the longest distance cycled on a bicycle in one hour.
I enjoyed the tribute to grocer Thomas Lipton who competed in America’s Cup 5 times beginning in 1899. Known as a good sport who never won the race, he finally earned respect with his new business, selling tea.
It took me a while to figure out why a mini-dress Audrey Hepburn wore in one of my favorite movies, Two for the Road, was on display.
When WW I broke out, 1000 Glasgow tram workers immediately volunteered and formed their own army unit unofficially known as the Tramway Battalion.
See Riverside if you’re in Glasgow. 4 Compass.