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Clydeside - Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, 1993

1 September 2012

A few years before I took this photograph a fellow student at college got a shot of the River Clyde during a ship launch. The image greatly impressed me – the view of Glasgow, the ship and thousands of pigeons taking flight because of the noise. I wanted a photograph like that.

Launches were getting rarer, but driving past the shipyards as I often did you couldn’t help notice the ships being built, getting larger. As one ship neared completion I wangled covering the launch as an assignment for the Scotland On Sunday newspaper.

On the day of the launch I presented myself at the Meadowside Granary Building, once the biggest grain store in Britain and the largest brick built building in Europe. I wanted a shot from the roof. Security told me, “Go in yourself, up the stairs, the door to the roof is open.” As I walked through the deserted floors, empty except for bats, rats and pigeons, I heard footsteps but could see no one. My heart rate quickened and I imagined myself a murder victim in an episode of Taggart. Then two workers appeared in white overalls and gas masks. I made for the roof as quickly as I could.

There was still some time before the launch and as I enjoyed the view lo and behold, coming up the Clyde to my right was another Glasgow icon, the P. S. Waverley – the last seagoing paddle steamer, built in 1946 and still going strong to this day.

I was shooting black and white in those days. A roll of Tri-X wound through my trusty Nikon FM2 as fast as I could drive it. I wanted to capture a glimpse of old and new shipping on the Clyde.

Scotland on Sunday published one shot from the sequence and I later traded a 16×12” print of this image with a worker from the yard for more access to the shipyards. He got a print, I had a few wonderful hours wandering the yard shooting images of men at work.

In 2002 the Meadowside Granary was demolished, another Glasgow icon gone. To shoot the same view of the shipyards today you’d have to talk your way into someone’s penthouse apartment.

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert has been working for British editorial clients for twenty years, although it seems a lot less. For nine years he was based in Tokyo, Japan, working throughout the Asian Pacific region. He recently returned to Glasgow to immerse himself in his native city and culture.

Photographer since 1989, EPUK member since 2000.

See more work by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

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