The Tall Ship is a 19th-century fully-restored sailing ship and museum moored up at Pointhouse Quay next to The Riverside Transport Museum in Glasgow.
The floating museum features a restored interior with authentic displays of life at sea in Victorian times and it also houses a shop and a café. It is currently free to visit.
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Review of The Tall Ship
One of the highlights of visiting Glasgow is heading down to the River Clyde and having a look around The Tall Ship, the 19th-century sailing ship moored alongside Pointhouse Quay.
This fully restored three-mast sailing ship offers an interesting glimpse into a bygone era of wind-powered shipping that’s open to the public as a four-star-rated tourist attraction.
The Tall Ship (real name Glenlee) is one of only five remaining tall ships built on the Clyde that is still afloat today, and a visit is well worth making the time for if you’ve ever wanted to know anything about Glasgow’s shipbuilding heritage.
The Glenlee is one of those tourist attractions that’s guaranteed to keep all members of the family entertained and mums and dads will enjoy their visit just as much as the kids thanks to the tales of her sea-faring voyages captured on numerous displays dotted around the ship.
Questions like ‘what did the crew eat?’ and ‘where did the ship sail?’ are answered in detail during your walk around this grand old vessel and there’s an informative audio guide that will tell you all about what life was like on a British sailing ship over a hundred years ago.
Perhaps the best thing about a visit to The Tall Ship is exploring every nook and cranny and imagining what it would have been like to live on board her as she sailed around the world’s oceans.
It’s pretty much impossible to get bored at this attraction because there are so many things to see and do, including taking the wheel in the wheelhouse, inspecting the captains quarters, viewing the onboard cinema, and walking around the cargo hold. There’s even a restaurant and a souvenir shop on board.
I have to say I was mightily impressed by this floating museum during my time in Glasgow and I think if you head the River Clyde to see The Tall Ship for yourself you’ll agree with me that it has to be one of the city’s best attractions.
Things to do at The Tall Ship
There’s a surprising amount of things to see in The Tall Ship and I really wasn’t expecting to spend more than a half hour aboard her, so I was surprised to find myself strolling through the exit over two hours later.
You’ll begin your tour at the gangway and from there you can walk around the upper deck and look inside the main deckhouse before stopping to gaze up at the masts and their impossibly complicated network of ropes and pulleys.
How those yester-year sailors managed to keep all that rigging in working order is hard to imagine but it must have been a back-breaking job keeping the Glenlee ship-shape as she sailed across the globe.
The upper deck is also where you’ll find the galley and the carpentry and sailmaking workshops, and it’s in these sections of the ship where the history of the Glenlee really comes to life.
All these areas have been faithfully restored to their original condition and it’s genuinely interesting to see how the sailors would have lived and worked when the ship was operating in its heyday.
From the upper deck you’ll move down to the tween deck and I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how big the ship actually is once you start exploring the lower levels.
The Glenlee is a bit of a Tardis because she seems to be a lot bigger on the inside than you’d think from looking at her on the quay, and not only is there a fairly well-stocked gift shop on one side of the tween deck but they’ve also managed to fit a decent café in there as well, both of which take up less than half the floor space of the deck.
The café is pretty good and you can grab a coffee and a basic lunch – think chips/soup/sandwich – for a reasonable price before heading out to wander around the rest of the vessel.
The only negative I have about the café is that you might feel a bit enclosed because the only windows are small portholes, but on the other hand how often do you get to munch a sandwich inside an old-fashioned sailing ship?
The lower deck is where you’ll find the toilets and an education room along with a few informative displays about the types of cargo the ship would have carried, but it’s the cargo hold that really impresses. It’s way bigger than you might expect and even though it’s dimly lit down there it’s very atmospheric.
If you’ve got kids with you they’re going to love spending time in the hold, especially seeing as there is a play area and a mini cinema down there too. It’s a really nice touch to have somewhere to let the kids burn off some energy and it’s further proof that this attraction totally deserves its four-star Scottish Tourist Board rating.
Perhaps best of all, The Riverside Museum of Transport is situated next door to where The Tall Ship is moored so you can easily combine a visit to both attractions in one afternoon – which you should definitely do seeing as they’re both completely free to enter.
If you’d like to know more about The Riverside Museum check out my Complete Guide to The Riverside Museum of Transport for full details including opening times, photos, a video and more.
If you’re in Glasgow and looking for a cheap way to kill a few hours I honestly can’t think of a better place to visit than the River Clyde and these two fascinating museums.
The history of the Tall Ship
The Glenlee was built in 1896 as a cargo ship at the Anderson Rodger shipyard in Port Glasgow, and during the course of her 47 years of service she navigated the world’s oceans both as a transport vessel and as a military training ship before being rescued and converted into the floating museum that we can visit today.
The vessel changed ownership several times during the 23 years that she operated as a bulk carrier and was renamed Islamount in the early 1900s until she was purchased by the Star of Italy shipping company in 1919.
At this time the days of traditional sailing ships were dwindling due to the preference for motorized power and by 1922 Islamount’s Italian owners had retrofitted the vessel with two auxiliary diesel engines.
Shortly after this upgrade she was sold to the Spanish Military Naval School who renamed her the Galatea and converted her into an officer training vessel capable of accommodating three hundred military personnel.
By 1943 the Galatea had been abandoned in a Spanish port and it seemed as if her sailing days were over, at least until plans were made to transform her into a floating naval museum in Seville.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for Glasgow) the Spanish decided to scrap her in the early 90s but thankfully she was discovered by a British naval architect and was subsequently purchased by the Clyde Maritime Trust.
The trust ensured the ship was restored with her original name Glenlee before carrying out an exhaustive six-year plan of restoration that completely transformed the sailing ship into the faithful recreation that we see today, and she’s now a permanent fixture at Glasgow’s Riverside Transport Museum on the River Clyde.
- There are enough things to do that both adults and children will enjoy their visit.
- The facilities are great and very family-friendly, especially the café and the play are in the cargo hold.
- The Tall Ship completely free and it’s close enough to the Transport Museum that you can combine a visit to both in one afternoon.
- Another first-rate attraction in the area is the Glasgow Science Centre which is located across the River Clyde. Unfortunately, entry to the science centre is not free.
- If you’re feeling like a land-lubber you should head inland to Kelvingrove Park which is a 20-minute walk.
- For inspiration on more things to do in Glasgow check out my Glasgow Weekend Itinerary.
150 Pointhouse Place,
Photo gallery and video
Things to do near The Tall Ship
- The Glasgow SEC. Exhibition Way, Glasgow G3 8YW. 21-minute walk. Arts and exhibitions arena located on the bank of The River Clyde. The SECC is split into three different buildings which are the most distinctive in Glasgow. The Finnieston Crane is nearby and there are cafés and bars inside the centre.
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG. 18-minute walk. One of Scotland’s most-visited museums, Kelvingrove offers a diverse range of exhibits and artefacts from across the globe. The museum is situated near the west end of the 84-acre Kelvingrove Park. Entry is free.
- Kelvingrove Park. 6 Professors’ Square, Glasgow G3 6BY. 23-minute walk. One of the oldest public parks in Scotland. Kelvingrove Park features a collection of memorials, walking paths, sports areas, the River Kelvin and Kelvingrove Museum.
- The Glasgow Science Centre. 50 Pacific Quay, Glasgow G51 1EA. 21-minute walk. Science and technology museum situated on the bank of the River Clyde. The centre offers a collection of fun and informative interactive exhibits based on all aspects of science. There is also a tall rotating tower that offers panoramic views of Glasgow, an IMAX cinema, a planetarium, a shop and a café.
- The Riverside Museum of Transport. 100 Pointhouse Rd, Govan, Glasgow G3 8RS. 1-minute walk. Scotland’s premier museum dedicated to all forms of transport from bicycles to aircraft. The museum features a collection of rare cars, steam trains, a re-creation of a Victorian Glasgow street, interactive displays, a café, shop and much more.
More places to visit in Glasgow
- The Glasgow Science Centre: Complete Visitor GuideThe Glasgow Science Centre is located in the heart of the city on the banks of the River Clyde – more or less opposite the SECC – and it’s widely regarded as one of the top visitor attractions in Scotland.
- Glasgow Green – Glasgow: Complete Visitor GuideGlasgow is well known for the number of inner-city green spaces it has compared to other British cities and in fact it’s second only to Edinburgh for its parks, gardens and other outdoor areas that allow its residents to enjoy the great outdoors.
- The Hunterian Museum – Glasgow: Complete Visitor GuideWhen you hear the words ‘Museum’ and ‘Glasgow’ I bet the first place that pops into your head is the fantastic Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Kelvingrove Park (click the links to read my guides to both attractions).
- Kelvingrove Park – Glasgow: Complete Visitor GuideI’m going to start this guide with a confession. The first time I visited Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum I left without visiting the park. Not because I didn’t have time but because I didn’t even know it was there.
- The University of Glasgow: Complete Visitor GuideIf you’re thinking about heading to Glasgow to explore it’s tourist attractions I wouldn’t blame you if the last place you’ve got on your to-do list is the University of Glasgow. After all, who wants to walk around a boring university surrounded by a load of dusty old books and smelly students?