Govan Workspace is rejuvenating Glasgow's shipyards, giving old buildings new life. Managing Director Pat Cassidy explains how a Charity Bank loan helped to save the historic headquarters.
With 19 shipyards employing over 70,000 people in the early 1900s, the small community of Govan in Glasgow was shipbuilder to the world. In recent years, global competition has taken its toll. Govan's vast shipbuilding operation has downsized dramatically, with many of its yards facing closure several times and forcing people into unemployment.
From then on Govan began to battle the symptoms of deprivation: drink, drugs and crime. As buildings fell into disrepair, a group of us saw an opportunity to use them to reignite the potential of the area. We began buying up run-down sites and turning them into affordable office spaces to support local businesses and create jobs. This is what we do at Govan Workspace.
Perhaps our biggest challenge yet has been restoring the Fairfield building: the former headquarters of Scotland's shipbuilding empire and a crumbling symbol of Govan's heritage, which many declared was beyond saving. 18,000 square foot of community pride and industrial heritage was rotting away. We couldn't let that happen.
With the help of a loan from Charity Bank, a rotting structure with smashed windows and gaping ceilings was steadily transformed into a grand building with teak floors, a spiralling staircase and corniced ceilings. While Fairfield's lower floors are dedicated to telling the story of Govan's shipbuilding heritage, the upper floors have been carefully designed to attract tech and design companies. Where shipbuilding engineers once drafted their designs, graphic design agencies and tech entrepreneurs can now be found working away.
After decades of shipbuilding excellence, restoring Fairfield has reinstated a huge source of community pride in Govan. The beautifully restored Victorian landmark now welcomes visitors, stating loudly and clearly: Govan is open for business.
"18,000 square foot of community pride and industrial heritage was rotting away. We couldn't let that happen."Pat Cassidy, Managing Director, Govan Workspace