Clydeside Historian - Ian Johnston
When director Ross set out to create Finnieston Clothing, quality has always come first. It’s vital that when paying tribute to such an important part of our city’s history that the materials, message and execution is completely authentic. There’s a certain level of responsibility that comes with doing what we are doing.
We’ve had a significant increase in followers on our social platforms and mailing list over the last couple of months and thought we would re-introduce a man who has brought us endless sources of inspiration when it came to creating Finnieston Clothing’s shipbuilding inspired collection – Ian Johnston, a family friend of Ross.
A graphic designer by profession, Ian came from a shipbuilding family in Glasgow and has published several books on the Clyde’s world-famous yards. A lifetime’s interest in ships and shipbuilding has borne fruit in a number of publications including 'Clydebank Battlecruisers’, ‘A Shipyard at War’, ‘Beardmore Built’ and ‘Ships for All Nations.’ Ian has dedicated years to ensuring the shipbuilding legacy of the Clyde lives on.
When Ross was first concentrating on the shipbuilding heritage angle, he knew his first port of call for help was Ian and when he asked who was the best person to speak to on the subject his reply was ‘Me!’ He is the absolute authority on Glasgow’s great shipbuilding past and we consider ourselves extremely lucky to work with him.
Our brand DNA ‘Dazzle Camouflage’ was a discovery made while browsing Ian’s personal collection of original drawings of wartime liveries for ocean-going vessels. Seeing pictures over 100 years old with such vibrant colour and geometric pattern work was oddly modern looking, which made it a perfect fit for us! While our Outerwear garments are utilitarian in design and inspired by workwear – rather than reproducing apparel from the past they are a contemporary reinvention for the modern day. Dazzle Camouflage can be found in our jacket linings and bespoke Dazzle Scarves.
For our current collection we’ve extracted and replicated several shipping company logos we unearthed when sifting through Ian's extensive archives of photography and original company documents.
There has been such a massive response to these lines most notably items carrying John Brown & Company, Fairfield and Govan Shipbuilders names.
Mostly we hear from individuals sharing stories of their family members (fathers, grandfathers, uncles etc.) who worked in the Clydebank and Govan yards amongst others and in some instances the men themselves(!) We’ve heard from ‘Bankies’ and ‘Govanites’ who have lived and worked in the local industry all of their days, and we’ve heard from people as far afield as the United States and Australia who are sharing their link to the Clyde’s yards and given the massive history it’s no surprise!
Make no mistake, we weren’t just good at ship construction, innovation and engineering in Glasgow– we were world leaders!
In 1901 it was claimed Govan was the ‘Shipbuildingest’ (yes you read that right) Burgh in the world and the Fairfield Yard was the jewel in it’s crown. Clydebuilt was an industry benchmark - a hallmark of quality. Since its beginnings and through to the industrial revolution and beyond, over twenty five thousand ships have been built on the Clyde. At one time the Clydeside Shipyards accounted for three quarters of ocean-going tonnage – GLOBALLY! Just let that sink in...
In its history around three hundred firms built ships on the Clyde, albeit around thirty-forty during any given period. If you take a look around today you’d need to know where to look to know how important Glasgow’s Shipbuilding contribution was. The Stobcross (Finnieston) Crane for many is an icon of the city’s industrial heritage, but so much else has already gone. Yards have disappeared and workshops demolished for housing, the quays and docks of the upper Clyde have long since been filled in, the cranes blown up or pulled down. Just two yards are still building ships on the Clyde today. BAE Systems Surface Ships at Govan (Fairfield Yard) and the other Ferguson Marine in Greenock, which has just been taken into public ownership.
We feel duty bound therefore to utilise our collections in telling the story. Our articles are made from the best quality materials, assembled with extra care and are built to last. Like the great Clydebuilt legacy we aim to keep alive, we hope to create something that Glasgow can be proud of too.
Once again a massive thanks to Ian for all of his help and support. We've some exciting projects coming up soon - watch this space!