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Preserving Sporting Heritage in Glasgow: The West Boathouse

By February 5, 2024February 13th, 2024No Comments
White, blue and terracotta historic boat house. The upstairs windows have pointed arches on top which mirror the bow of a boat. the photo is taken through trees on the other side of the river.

Celebrating sporting culture is important to preserve the shared experiences, traditions, and identity of communities. Sports-related buildings are tangible assets that can represent the unity, resilience, and aspirations of people within a place. Glasgow has a proud sporting legacy that includes football, swimming, and rowing.

In 1872, the first international football game between Scotland and England took place in Partick in Glasgow’s west end. There has been a lot of interest in football archaeology over the past few years with digs taking place to uncover original buildings on sites. However, it’s fair to say football is not a thing of the past, with playing and watching it still being hugely popular.

Similarly, in the Edwardian and Victorian periods bathhouses were constructed across the city. These iconic structures were where the people of the city learned to swim and became hubs of local communities. There are projects across the city that are preserving these buildings for future use such as the Govanhill Baths and Arlington Baths .

A room with rowing boats stacked on racks

Another popular sport in Glasgow, that connected locals with Glasgow’s River Clyde, was rowing. By the early 19th century, locals had begun to row for fun, rather than to simply get across the Clyde. As time went on the sportgrew in popularity with lots of rowing clubs being formed. In 1905, The Clydesdale Amateur Rowing club finally got a permanent home in the West Boathouse, which  sits on the river Clyde in Glasgow Green.

Through Glasgow Building Preservation Trust’s (GBPT) recent renewal of the West Boathouse, Glasgow’s important rowing heritage has been carefully conserved. Further to undertaking physical changes to the building, GBPT have assisted in properly archiving, digitising, and redisplaying the collections found within the building including photographs, ephemera and objects. They enlisted the help of rowing club members, university students and other volunteers to complete the project.


Room with rowing machines and framed photos and rowing outfits on wallThrough undertaking the collections project alongside the renewal project, GBPT aimed to ensure that the collections that provide context to the building and its rich history won’t be lost. Furthermore, these collections can now be accessed digitally and help to provide a better view of Glasgow’s sporting culture and in turn the history of the people who have lived in the city.

To explore the West Boathouse’s collection head to:

A full case study on the West Boathouse restoration project will be out soon so keep an eye on our social media.



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