The Glasgow canal dock that built the D-Day landing craft used in Normandy

Today, it's one of Glasgow's sleepiest and most tranquil beauty spots, yet 80 years ago it performed a crucial role in producing landing craft for the historic D-Day assault on the beaches of Normandy.

Looking around the remains of the Kelvin Dock by the Forth and Clyde Canal at Maryhill, there is little to indicate the epoch-defining role the former boat building yard played during the Second World War.

Now restored and beautifully landscaped, the old Kelvin dry dock once operated as Swan & Co's boat building and repair yard from the 19th century onwards.

The yard, which opened in the 1790s for repairing canal vessels, was later responsible for the construction of canal barges and even the first steam-powered boats: the Clyde Puffers.

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It was during the Second World War, however, that the Maryhill yard became one of the most important military production sites in all of Europe.

The final contract for the Kelvin Dock workers was to build the landing craft that transported Allied troops on to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

The landing craft vehicles, known as LCVPs or Higgins boats, played a vital role for what was the largest seaborne invasion in history on June 6, 1944 and were used extensively in other amphibious landings during the war.

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Typically built from plywood, the shallow, barge-like boats ferried up to 36 men to shore a rate of 12 knots, or roughly 13mph.

Interestingly, at Maryhill, the legendary artist Joan Eardley, who had been learning joinery during the war, was enlisted to help paint camouflage on to the boats.

The first of the "Love Charlie Victor Peters" - made famous with film fans in the 1998 blockbuster Saving Private Ryan starring Tom Hanks, were launched from the Glasgow yard in 1942 and many more would follow.

While it is unclear exactly how many were built in Maryhill, by the time of D-Day, a total of 839 of the iconic landing craft were involved in the assault on the Normandy beaches.

A total of 81 were lost on the day or shortly afterward, including 55 at Omaha Beach. Hundreds of other LCVPs were also used in the Mediterranean and Pacific.

In the post-war era, much of the Forth and Clyde Canal ceased being used and the Kelvin Dock was closed along with the surrounding waterways in the 1960s.

Thankfully, the Maryhill waterways, which are referred to by some as Glasgow's answer to Venice, were reopened as part of the Millennium Link Project in the early 2000s, creating the lush and peaceful beauty spot we know and love today.

Article first published on March 1, 2022.