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Neglected City

Humane Society

The Clyde

Riverside Museum

In April 2010, Glasgow bade farewell to the Transport Museum, which was situated in rear portion of the Kelvin Hall building, off Dumbarton Road.  Since that day, Glaswegians, have waited patiently for the new museum to open its doors.  The new venue, the                                ,  opened in June 2011.

Text Box: It was nice to see that Ben Parsonage has been honoured by an exhibit of his unique boat ‘Bennie’ used in rescues by the Humane Society.  
Text Box: The  Humane Society boat  - ‘Bennie’
 George Parsonage onscreen talking about  his father’s role in the Society and the boat his father designed and built.

The picture on the left is a reminder of how the subway station exhibit in the old museum looked.  The new museum is not set up to mimic an underground  station as well as this was.  There is now only one carriage, although you can board one of the old ‘shoogly’  carriages and watch a film about the subway during the War.

Riverside Museum

Text Box: Riverside Museum
Text Box: The building itself is very impressive, especially as a backdrop for the Glenlee, if you take the ferry from Govan, this is the view you would get.  

The short trip across the Clyde was part of the thrill for me.

The views from some of the full-length windows of the building are just inspiring, looking straight up the Clyde.

It would be nice to see more crafts on the Clyde, making it busier and more accessible again.
Text Box: View of the Riverside Museum from Govan

Once inside the museum, the ground floor is dominated by the Springburn built railway engine, which was brought back from South Africa.


It was great to see that there was access to the interior of the tram and bus and various other exhibits, something that was always lacking in the Kelvin Hall museum, but there were fewer of these modes of transport than were on show before.   I realise space is at a premium, but this is a new, purpose designed building, so I can’t understand why room wasn’t planned for these exhibits, which are so dear to the hearts of Glasgow folk.

Text Box: Springburn Tram
Text Box: On the subject of space to show exhibits, who came up with the idea of the ‘car wall?’   I understand that the cars have been photographed from all angles, so that they can be viewed on one of the several touch-screens.  Actually getting access to these screens is a long wait, as there is usually a child using  the screen.  Unfortunately, my experience was, on one day I visited, the screens were being used mainly as an amusement and not to learn anything about the exhibits.  Let’s hope that changes.  
I would much prefer that we could see the cars at ground level.  After all, the shelves might just as easily have been filled with fibreglass mock-ups of the cars!  
Why put them up there?  I suspect the answer is lack of space, again.
Text Box: The ‘Car Wall’

The ‘Tall Ship’, the                is berthed alongside the new museum, having moved from her berth at the Pumphouse.

It is a pity that there is no room for the items from the excellent, but now closed, Clydebuilt museum, which used to be at Braehead.  This museum told the story of the ships, their owners, their cargoes and their voyages so well and would have been an interesting adjunct to the scale model ships.  It also told the story of Glasgow and how it came to be a great port. 

On the ground floor is the old cobblestoned street, complete with horsedrawn carriage and shops you can go into—there are screens describing the premises and giving information. 


The street name is now ‘Main Street’ which sounds a bit more American than Scots. 


I was touched by the inclusion of the Rendezvous Café, as would anyone who had frequented it or seen the documentary on the museum, when we saw the last members of the family to have known it as a going concern visit the exhibit and relive their experiences.

Text Box: Some cars at ground level

 I miss the wee ‘Regal Cinema’ that nestled in Kelvin Street, where I could go in and watch short documentary films about shipbuilding and trips ‘Doon the Watter’ and lots of other things!

There are lots of other exhibits, of course.  Some I could see a link, if tenuous, to transport and travel, others I thought would be better suited to the People’s Palace museum.


It has to be said it is certainly geared (perhaps too much so) to young children.   I think the exhibits ought to be better displayed and grouped and descriptively ticketed (the touch screens won’t last forever) to allow adults to enjoy the museum as much as the children do.  And bring back some of the old favourites, for instance, the mosaic coat of arms from the St. Enoch station hotel—surely an area of floor space could have been set aside for that?


I doubt the cars and motorbikes are a lost cause—there is nowhere to put them.


For myself, I have to say that the museum has many missed opportunities, and art has triumphed over substance.  But these are purely personal views and perhaps, just perhaps, the museum will grow on me as time passes.


I was told in November 2009, at a meeting of a Club I am a member of; that the collection would be changed 8 times per year, the street(s) would have live representation (people in period costume), all the ship models would be on display. There would be a ship launch show and steam workings.  I watch with interest.


I’m sure the children, tourists and those with no real experience of or attachment to the old displays will find it absorbing and fun.  I hope so……….

Plaudits to the museum for the inclusion of the Tramway War Memorial.

Text Box: War Memorial to Tramway workers

There is also a ‘motorbike wall’ (do you detect a theme here?) and bicycles are displayed at various points in the museum, including on a large circular ‘velodrome’ hanging from the ceiling.

To be honest, it felt at times I was visiting an art installation themed on transport, rather than an actual museum dedicated to transport.

The wonderful Clyde Room has gone, to be replaced by a ‘conveyor’ belt of ship models and a large display case with other ship models.  These are upstairs, across the ‘bridge’ However, the models of the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mary and the QE2 are on display on the ground floor.

Text Box: The Queen Mary

Access to the facts on the ships on the conveyor is via touch screens and the ship models in the large display case, via ONE touch screen, so if you want information, you may have to wait.  There is a distinct lack of information boards at this point.

Text Box: Queen Elizabeth

My main complaint about the street is the absence of a cinema.  After all, Glasgow used to be known as ‘Cinema City’. 


There is a room set aside in another area, which is called a ‘street’, but in my mind bears no real resemblance to one.


In this room there are the ends of cinema seats in rows going up the wall (yes, I see a pattern here !) and the ubiquitous TV screen with people talking of their memories.

Text Box: The Regal cinema in the old Museum of Transport
Text Box: ‘Room and kitchen’ tram
Text Box: (above) Carriages, with Main Street in the background 
    (right) one of the vintage cars
Text Box: Duntocher tram
Text Box: Maryhill tram

While crossing the ‘bridge’, look out for the case which contains the information on the Daphne disaster, and particularly look out for the clock.  Clocks like this one, a rare surviving example, were presented to the men who rescued those who were drowning and the bodies of the drowned from the river.