Greenock's Historic Quarter

Take a step back in time and discover the hidden treasures of Greenock's rich past with this virtual tour of the Historic Quarter. Learn about the trade and commerce, the shipbuilding and migration all of which contributed to the growth of Greenock and th

Greenock's Historic Quarter

Scotland PA15 1BQ, United Kingdom

Created By: Inverclyde Tourist Group

Tour Information

Inverclyde Tourist Group (ITG) welcomes you to this virtual walking tour of Greenock's Historic Quarter. This tour was created for the Doors Open Days 2021 event and is based on the ITG booklet of the same name. For ease of parking, the tour starts and finishes at the same point. It can be completed in sections or in its entirety; on the ground or from the comfort of your armchair.

For a brief guide for first-time users of the PocketSights app, click this link: First Time user guide

The walk is mainly on flat ground; exceptions are highlighted within the tour. If you omit the Wellpark Loop and the Shipbuilding Loop, the walk is approximately 2 hours long.

Please take care on cobbled surfaces and use pedestrian crossings where possible. Care should be exercised when near the river's edge.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Inverclyde Tourist Group (ITG) (image 1) welcomes you to this virtual walking tour of Greenock's Historic Quarter. For a brief guide for first-time users of the PocketSights app, copy and paste this link into your browser: inverclydeheri... Read more
Clyde Square is a pedestrian area on the south side of the Municipal Buildings. In the 1960s, the Square and Municipal Buildings were seperated by a busy road called Hamilton Street (image 1). More recently the arcade behind the columns at ... Read more
The imposing Greenock Municipal Buildings were built originally in the 1880s but have undergone additions and updates well into the 21st Century (image 1). This southern facade has the official entrance to the former Burgh's administration ... Read more
The open area at the right-hand corner of the Municipal Buildings is known as Cowan's Corner (image 1), after a local businessman who refused to sell his property when the council was acquiring the land needed to build the award-winning de... Read more
Rising above the buildings, the 75 metre (245 feet) high Victoria Tower exceeds the height of the tower on Glasgow City Chambers, allegedly built this high in a bid of one-upmanship over the city. Tap the image to see the full picture. (C... Read more
Above the entrance arch to the Town Hall Carriageway (image 1), notice a set of carvings. These relief sculptures depict a 'zoo' of animals, some possibly inspired by Greenock's seafaring links with travel to foreign shores such as the p... Read more
William Street (image 1) was named after William Alexander, the first feuar of this land and was one of the first streets in Greenock to be named. It leads down from Cathcart Square and originally went down to the shore which later became a... Read more
The Dutch Gable House (image 1), is one of the oldest surviving buildings on William Street. It was built in 1755 and has been renovated and refurbished in recent years by a local group. Behind the Dutch Gable house is the oldest house in ... Read more
The red sandstone building next to the Dutch Gable House was part of the expansion to the Watt Memorial Engineering and Navigation School. The original entrance is around the corner in Dalrymple Street. The School originally opened in 190... Read more
This bronze statue (image 1) is on the corner of William Street and Dalrymple Street. The sculptor was Henry Charles Fehr and it was created as part of the Carnagie memorial funding. It shows Watt holding a Watt Indicator in his right hand... Read more
Heading back up the other side of William look out for the entrance to Mince Collop Close (image 1) tucked in behind the modern building. It is named after a local culinary staple made from minced meat and oats. This is an example of one ... Read more
Built in 1752, this is the oldest building in William Street. In the past it has been an inn and a public house. Today it is used for offices and for housing. Continue by walking forward a few steps to Pin 13: The Old Bank Building. ...
Also on this side of the street, in what is now Martini's Bar, was the premises of the Greenock Provident Bank. Built in 1861/1862, the architects were Baird and Thomson. Continue by walking up William Street then turn left into Cathcart ... Read more
Currently a steak house called 134, the Clydesdale Bank Building (image 1) was built on the north east corner of Cathcart Square in 1899 on the site of the former White Hart Inn (image 2). The Inn, founded in 1770, was the final stop on th... Read more
Situated in the middle of Cathcart Square, the Lyle Fountain was gifted to the town in 1880 by Abram Lyle, a successful businessman who founded the sugar refinery Abram Lyle & Sons. It later merged with a rival in 1921 to become Tate &... Read more
A horseshoe is set in the stone paving between the Fountain and the Church, close to site of the gallows used for public hangings of the condemned who were lodged in the nearby prison. The gallows was in fact located in front of the chur... Read more
The Wellpark Mid Kirk sits at the southern end of Cathcart Square (images 1 and 2). It is known locally at the 'Toon Kirk' because it is used for civic occasions such as 'Kirking the Council'. The church was built on land gifted by Lord ... Read more
Bank Street is in the south east corner of Cathcart Square. The first building on this street was a bank, hence its name. NB: If you do not wish to walk up the hill, you can follow the tour on the app and then continue the walk from Pin 28... Read more
Just behind the buildings of Wellpark Mid Kirk - the 'Toon Kirk' - is the former site of the County Buildings (images 1 and 2) built in 1834 where the Sheriff Courts and Justice of the Peace Court met. The Royal Coat of Arms (image 1) ... Read more
The pathway is roughly where the entrance to the Bridewell Prison was located. Costing £1,500, the prison was built half way up Bank Street in 1808 in the style of an old castle complete with two towers in front and battlements on top. ... Read more
Looking uphill from this point you can see the Renfrewshire Bank Buildings, the first building on the street. The architecture is Georgian with a horseshoe stairway and was completed in 1811. Banking here ceased in 1842. It has also been us... Read more
To the left of the Renfrewshire Bank Buildings is an entrance leading up to the Wellpark. The Wellpark is formed on the grounds of the old Mansion House, previously the Castle of Wester Greenock, home of the Schaw family. Continue by w... Read more
Looking across the park wall in an easterly direction is the derelict site (image 1) of the former Mansion House (image 2). Although the House was demolished in 1886, the Laird and his family had moved its home to Ardgowan House outsi... Read more
A pair of acorn-topped pillars (image 1 and 2) can be seen at the north end of Lyndoch Street. They are at the top of a set of stairs called 'Lord John's Brae' which leads down to Terrace Road and thereby to Cathcart Street. The pillars c... Read more
This was the well for the Mansion House, the source of fresh drinking water for the household. It gives its name to this now public park. It was built in the Scottish Renaissance style and has short columns supporting a pyramid. It is ... Read more
Wellpark is also the site of the town's main war memorial built in 1924. Continue by the smaller path back towards the entrance steps and Bank Street to Pin 27: Radical War Memorial.
As you walk down Bank Street you will see the Wall Inscription (images 1 and 2) by landscape artist James Gordon. This is part of a commemoration for those killed on Saturday, 8th April 1820 as part of what has become known as the Radical... Read more
Cathcart Street (images 1 to 3) was named after the Cathcart family. When Charles, 8th Baron Cathcart, married Marion Schaw in 1718, this was the beginning of a long association with the town. It was one of the first streets to be officia... Read more
The site of the Longwell is marked by a plaque on the wall (image 1) inside a carpark of an office building (only accessible on week days). If the gate is open, you may choose to go in and view the wall plaque and the engraved stone well c... Read more
The Greenock Blitz transformed the face of the town. It destroyed many historic buildings which in turn made way for new developments (images 1 to 4). The first wave began on the evening of 6th May, 1941. 50 enemy planes followed the Rive... Read more
In 1801, the original Tontine Hotel, a handsome building, (images 1 and 2) was erected. It contained a large hall, 12 sitting rooms and 30 bedrooms. Large stables for the use of customers was in the adjoining street. A tontine is a way of ... Read more
Across Cathcart Street, on the site now occupied by CVS Inverclyde, was the site of Greenock's Sugar Exchange and Assembly Rooms. They were located on the first floor of the building. The Sugar Exchange had its own exit to the Greenock C... Read more
There was great excitement on 31st March 1841 when Greenock Station (1841-1878), later Greenock Cathcart Street (1878-1889), opened on Cathcart Street, marking the start of a new era of rail travel. Flags were flying and bands playing whe... Read more
Ginger the Horse (2011), is a steel wire sculpture by Andy Scott, who also created The Kelpies at Falkirk. The statue celebrates the contribution made to the industrial life of the docks, shipyards and sugar refineries. It also commemorate... Read more
Crossing Dalrymple Street at the Pedestrian Crossing will take you to the gardens at Customhouse Place and the Admiralty Anchor which was presented to the town in 1972 by the Royal Navy to commemorate the many seafaring links of the area. ... Read more
This was a very busy and noisy area, and probably a bit dirty and smelly too! When it was formerly known as East Quay Lane (images 1 and 2), this street was a chaotic bustle of carters and their horses plus sailors and passengers all rushi... Read more
Greenock was a major immigration port in the 1840s and 50s. Scots looking for pastures new following the Highland Clearances and people from Ireland escaping the Great Famine headed for the town and the work opportunities made possible by t... Read more
Customhouse Quay (image 1), previously known as Steamboat Quay, was the main port for the booming shipping trade and passenger travel of the 19th century. Ships still call at the Quay (image 3), incuding the PS Waverley (image 2), and it h... Read more
This elaborate tower (image 1) incorporates a clock, weather vane, bell, fog horn and light plus a post box and 2 water fountains (image 2). It was designed by local marine artist William Clark and constructed in 1868 by Rankine and Blackmo... Read more
To facilitate this growth in trade, the Customhouse (image 1) was built between 1817 and 1819 at a cost of £30,000. Every vessel coming into the area had to pay duty. In 1728, gross receipts were £15,231 which rose to £455,596 in 1828. T... Read more
A more recent addition to Customhouse Quay is the Beacon Arts Centre. Check their website for opening hours. There are two main performance spaces, rehearsal rooms and a bar. It has also featured in at least two television dramas: Shetlan... Read more
Greenock's and Port Glasgow's rise as a major shipbuilding area (images 1 and 2) had its roots in the 18th century when it provided the vessels for the thriving local herring fishing industry. The skills learned in building these herring b... Read more
Scotts' Dry Dock (image 1) was constructed in the 1800s and the oldest surviving of its kind in Scotland. Also known as a Graving Dock, the stepped structure (image 2) enabled boats to be propped upright with struts. The underside of t... Read more
East of this Dry Dock near the roundabout, is a cairn built on the site of Scotts' shipyard to commemorates 300 years of shipbuilding in this area. This modern-style cairn was built in the same colour of brick as the walls of Scotts' off... Read more
In front of the Fire Station is a cairn built to commemorate the New York Firefighters who lost their lives in the 9/11 Twin Towers tragedy. Continue by walking along Rue End Street to Pin 46: Fire Station.
The present Fire Station (image 1) is built on the site of the former St Lawrence's Chapel (image 2), the first religious building in Scotland to use electric power. The church was destroyed on 7th May 1941 during the Greenock Blitz. A ne... Read more
Across the road is the current police station. Its offices and cells moved into this building in the early 1980s. They had previously been part of the Municipal Buildings. This large police station serves all the towns and villages of Inve... Read more
Walking past the James Watt Statue included earlier in the tour, look out for Drummer's Close and its decorative plaque. This recalls the times when undesirables were 'drummed out of town' from the courthouse along this street. Tap image to... Read more
This is the first of what was three functional and major entrances to the Municipal Buildings. Above the entrance of the building are two statues which represent Law (image 1) and Justice (image 2). This part of the Municipal Buildings hous... Read more
A second set of entrances consisting of 3 doors between 4 columns was designed to give the public a second means of access to and from the Town Hall (image 1). The Town Hall or Town House was originally built in 1765 (image 2) then enlarg... Read more
This third and final set of doors was the site of Greenock's 1753 firestation and later part of the Municipal Buildings (image 1). It also housed living quarters for its officers and stables for the horses that pulled the fire carts. Today... Read more
Little remains of the pretty garden that was Wallace Square having been built over in the replanning of the 1970s. Tap the image to see the full picture. Continue by walking up Wallace Place to Pin 53: Wallace Place. ...
This is the west facade of the Municipal Buildings. In its centre, stairs lead up to large red doors which was the entrance for the public to pay their Council rents and rates - today's Council Tax. Further up Wallace Place is a carriageway... Read more
The imposing building to the right of the Municipal Buildings was originally built as the main Post Office in 1882 (image 1). The architect was John Boston. When the Post Office moved to its new premises in Cathcart Street in 1899, the bui... Read more
In the modern landscaped square in front of the Municipal Buildings there is a statue and plaque named The Men of the Clyde (images 1 and 2). Comissioned in 1975, it was designed by Naomi Hunt, DA, and sculpted by Malcolm Robertson, DA. ... Read more
Thank you for visiting Greenock's Historic Quarter. We hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour - whether you have walked it on foot or from the comfort of your own home. If you have any questions or comments about any part of the tour, plea... Read more


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