Blurry SkyTrain Near Renfrew Station by sillygwailo
Now that we’ve explored ancient Renfrew, it’s time to seek out what has made the town what it is today. We’ll discover how the simple act of getting from one place to another can shape the history and industry of a town. 

Let’s take a walk toward what is probably Renfrew’s longest standing mode of transportation (excepting legs and horsepower), a ferry which has operated here for about 500 years.

This little beauty is run by Clydelink, and she is the latest inheritor of a long, long tradition of ferries that have crossed over the River Clyde from Renfrew to Yoker. What was once one of the only ways to cross the 

File:Renfrew Ferry 2010-2.jpg
Finavon [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Clyde, and what later provided easy transport for factory workers and ship builders, runs today as a way for tourists to see the river and experience a nostalgic mode of travel. Today we’ll step up onto its algae covered decks (it’s called a “slipway” for a reason!), and then we just might stop inside The Ferry Inn (operating since 1703) for some warm steak pie and a refreshing beverage.

Shipbuilding was the major industry of Industrial Era Clydeside, and Renfrew was one of the area’s key manufacturing centers. The banks of the Clyde must have been bursting with traffic in those days, and there were plenty of jobs to be had with companies like Coulburn Lobnitz & Company creating their truly superior sand dredgers and hopper barges. 

Jet Stream by Bricheno
Jet Stream, a photo by Bricheno on Flickr.

Aviation also forms a great part of Renfrew’s proud legacy of transportation. According to one local archivist, “For such a tiny country, Scotland lays claim to being arguably the most inventive of nations …. It is in a way questionable that the moon landing of 1969 would actually have happened if it had not been for Scottish innovation and discovery. Arguably the most significant place in Scotland, where pioneering and flight operations took place…was Renfrew Airport….” The town’s love affair with planes stretches back to World War I when a military airfield was created here, and after World War II this was converted into a civilian airport. This was decommissioned in 1966 (the location of its Art Deco terminal building is now occupied by a Tesco supermarket), and the main flow of air traffic through the area today is through Glasgow International Airport. This is located between Renfrew and Paisley and is the second busiest airport in Scotland.

Sunset Renfrew 2 by mariabowskill
Sunset Renfrew 2, a photo by mariabowskill on Flickr.

The rest of our day will be spent poking about Renfrew’s lovely town center and marveling at its Town Hall, a French-Gothic structure with a tower that pierces the sky a hundred feet above our heads. This landmark was almost destroyed by fire in the late 1800s, but it was renovated and improved by the addition of a new clock, which at the time was declared to “doubtless prove a boon to the inhabitants, who were sometimes led astray in their calculations by the original timepiece, which was eccentric in its movements.”

I Believe I can Fly by mariabowskill
I Believe I can Fly, a photo by mariabowskill on Flickr.

From the swing bridge that actually lifts, to the town’s beautiful parks, to its massive indoor snow slopes and historic spots laced with legend, Renfrew is certainly one of Scotland’s little gems. 

First Photo: Blurry SkyTrain Near Renfrew Station, a photo by sillygwailo on Flickr.


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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

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