The Govan Cat – Glasgow, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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The Govan Cat

This small memorial honors a ferocious feline and local hero. 

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It is no secret that Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, is intrinsically linked to the shipping industry, due to its close proximity to the River Clyde. What is not as publicly recognized, is a miniature monument dedicated to an animal that saved a small community in a residential area to the northwest of the city center.

The borough of Govan is situated alongside the western banks of the River Clyde. During the reign of Queen Victoria, this area was a thriving neighborhood closely linked to the prosperity of the shipping trade. Whole building blocks would be dedicated to the picking of oakum, a type of loose fiber that would be used as caulking between planks in wooden ships.

Besides bringing well-being and security to the residents, these watery vessels also carried vermin. These undesirable pests could destroy expensive materials, as well as carry diseases. Enter a ferocious feline who was well known for ridding whole buildings of these destructive creatures. Unfortunately, this much-loved moggie met its end defending the community from a ferocious rat.

The citizenry was so besotted with the heroic deeds of this feline that they decided to honor them with a small memorial. Attached to the southern portion of a sandstone Category B-listed building is a carved image of a cat. Ironically, the structure was initially used as Temperance (anti-alcohol) meeting place, but now houses Brechin’s Bar, a vintage watering hole.

Know Before You Go

The figure of the cat is fairly small and is made out of the same material as the building, sandstone, so it can be difficult to spot. It is located on the south-west end of the building, very close to where the rooftop ends. It is perched just above a circular portal and around the corner from the statue of Sir William Pearce, a prominent shipbuilder, that overlooks Govan Road.

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January 17, 2023

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