Newark, now Port Glasgow and Newark Castle where the first established settlements in the area.

  • 1478 – Newark Castle first built by Sir George Maxwell
  • 1484 – Newark Castle South East corner tower added
  • 1495 – King James IV entertained at Newark Castle by George Maxwell


Towards the end of the 1500’s this stretch of land along the River Clyde had started to grow as a fishing village.

  • 1591 – Old West Kirk first opened as the first Presbyterian church built in Scotland following the Scottish Reformation
  • 1592 – Greenock founded as a fishing village
  • 1595 – Patrick Maxwell rebuilds Newark Castle

1600 - 1650

With the establishment of the Burgh and the harbour at Port Glasgow beginning to expand with trade for the Merchants of Glasgow, this century saw rapid growth and new opportunities for shipping.

  • 1600s – The first pier was built in Greenock and by 1635 the population was 900
  • 1635 – Burgh of Greenock was established

1651 - 1700

By the end of the century there were harbours in all three main towns, Port Glasgow, Greenock and Gourock and shipping was expanding rapidly.

  • 1667 – Government decree that all goods be shipped at Port Glasgow
  • 1668 – New Port Glasgow created
  • 1692 – 81 Glasgow merchants agree to load and discharge their cargoes at Newark
  • 1694 – Gourock created a Burgh of Barony and power to form a harbour
  • 1697 – Petition presented to Old West Kirk Session by the shipmasters asking for a sailors loft to be built, permission was granted provided the seamen built it.

1700 - 1750

In the early 18th Century the area started to establish itself in the shipping building industry, still operating as the main point of customs for Glasgow.  James Watt was born in this era, he went to become arguably the most famous of son of Inverclyde, and went on to change the world due to his contribution to the Industrial Revolution.

  • 1707 – Port Glasgow declared principal custom house for the Clyde & Greenock’s facilities made it the main port on the west coast of Scotland
  • 1710 – Custom house established
  • 1710 – The Harbour at Greenock completed
  • 1711 – Scott’s Shipbuilders established. This would go on to be Scotts Shipbuilding which went was based in Greenock for over 270 years and built over 1250 ships.
  • 1736 – James Watt was born

1751 - 1800

In the second half of the 18th Century trading was at its peak, there was international trade in Sugar, Tobacco and Slavery.   There were so many ships coming and going from around the world that Greenock also became an Emigration port for people looking to seek a new life in these new countries. Industry in the area also began to expand to service the goods coming in, sugar refineries, ship builders, rope works etc were all established here. The town of Greenock started to expand rapidly with the schools, churches, a library and transport to Glasgow.

  • 1761 – Mid Kirk, Cathcart Square opened
  • 1762 – First dry dock in Scotland built at Port Glasgow
  • 1763 – First stagecoach service between Greenock and Glasgow
  • 1765 – Sugar refining begins in Greenock
  • 1773 – Emigrants leave from Custom House Quay on The Hector for Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 1775 – 700 emigrants leave from Greenock and Port Glasgow for America
  • 1785 – 168 ships engaged in foreign trade at Greenock employing 1288 men
  • 1797 – Cloch Lighthouse completed

1800 - 1850

The first 50 years of the 19th Century saw the expansion of the towns, continuing to grow with the introduction of luxury houses for rich merchants. The Custom House was built to manage the busy harbour and customs and excise. It was the end of the slave trade however tobacco and sugar were still strong.  Signs of the Industrial Revolution also made their way to the area with gas street lighting and the train line to Glasgow.   James Watt’s steam engine was revolutionising the world and was put into the first steam passenger ferry, ‘The Comet’, built in Port Glasgow.

  • 1801 – Greenock Burns Club formed
  • 1811 – The Comet was built by John Wood Yard, Port Glasgow, Henry Bell design. World’s first steam passenger ferry
  • 1817 – Foundation stone of the new Custom House laid, Completed in 1819 at a cost of £30,000 built mainly by ex-soldiers
  • 1820 – Radical War, 9 prisoners were killed in Greenock
  • 1835 – Foundation stone of Watt Memorial Library, Union Street, was laid and this building still stands today.
  • 1836 – Port Glasgow builds Scotlands first wet dock with dock gates
  • 1841 – Greenock Central Station opened with a new railway line to Glasgow

1851 - 1900

Greenock remained the main trading port for sugar and this in turn created a lot of the buildings and locations we see today, such as The Sugar Sheds at James Watt Dock, which have been standing since 1886.  Abram Lyle of Tate & Lyle fame acquired his sugar refinery in Greenock at this time.  The gentry of the area built their homes on the ‘Esplanade’ and the majority of these are still standing today. Ship building was still very much a key industry and the docks continued to grow.

  • 1854 – Foundation Stone of Greenock town hall laid.
  • 1860 – Last wooden ship built in Greenock the “Euphemia”
  • 1865 – Abram Lyle, a cooper and shipowner, acquired an interest in a sugar refinery in 1865 in Greenock. He merged his company with his rival Henry Tate to become Tate & Lyle in 1921.
  • 1866 – West of Scotland Boat Club instituted, which still stands today at the end of the Esplanade.
  • 1874 – Greenock Morton Football Club founded
  • 1879 – Opening gala of Clyde Floating swimming pool, Fort Matilda
  • 1886 – James Watt Dock and Great Harbour constructed. Sugar Sheds constructed. Victoria Tower completed
  • 1889 – Railway to Gourock (Caledonian Line) opened

1900 - 1950

In the early 1900’s the area continued to thrive with the ship yards continuing to grow and spread throughout the area.  The Gourock Pool opened and you can still swim in this heated, salt water, outdoor pool today.   In the early part of the century the outdoor area at Battery Park saw the introduction of a Torpedo Factory, bringing even more people to the area.  Greenock was still a popular departure point for emigration on the many larger ships leaving for America.   A lot of the buildings from this era can still be seen today.

  • 1903 – Gourock Yacht Clubhouse opened, the gift of James Coats, Paisley
  • 1906 – Cardwell Bay Sailing Club Formed
  • 1906 – Henri Temianka was born, a virtuoso violinist, conductor, author and music educator
  • 1907 – Battery Park Formed
  • 1909 – Gourock swimming pool opened
  • 1911 – Royal Naval Torpedo Factory transfers from Woolwich to Battery park along with 700 workers
  • 1923 – 4,000 emigrants depart Tail of the Bank in 3 ships for America
  • 1949 – Large wartime aircraft hanger at Battery Park removed to England
  • 1949 – Greenock Arts Guild Theatre opened

1951 - 2000

  • 1951 – IBM established a plant in Spango Valley, Greenock
  • 1961 – Work starts at Inchgreen on building a 1,000 foot long dry dock
  • 1964 – Firth of Clyde dry dock officially opened by Princess Royal
  • 1965 – Queen Elizabeth docks at Firth of Clyde dry dock
  • 1969 – Scott’s was nationalised and merged with Lithgow’s becoming Scott Lithgow
  • 1973 – Inverclyde formed by amalgamating Greenock, Gourock & Port Glasgow
  • 1997 – The Tate and Lyle refinery closed
  • 1997 – Waterfront Leisure Complex constructed

2001 - present day

  • 2000s – Greenock becomes a popular cruise ship destination with over 85,000 visitors
  • 2010 – Both East India Harbour dry docks filled in
  • 2012 – Beacon Arts Centre completed on Customhouse Quay
  • 2012 – Her Majesty the Queen visits Greenock to open the new customer service centre at Inverclyde Council
  • 2014 – The Commonwealth baton travels through Inverclyde and a flotilla of 250 boats departs James Watt dock for Glasgow.
  • 2016 – The Gourock Highland Games was moved it’s new home at Battery Park and over 8,000 people attended.