Between McAlpine and Polaris: A social inscape study

Giarchi, George Giacinto (1981) Between McAlpine and Polaris: A social inscape study. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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On the 4th.March, 1961, the Polaris Nuclear Submarine Base was set up on the Holy Loch, in an area known as East Cowal, Argyllshire, Scotland. About 3, 000 Americans, mostly U.S servicemen, settled either at Base or ashore in the semi-remote area. Another outside intrusion upon the quiet life of the people in the Cowal Peninsula took place in the winter of 1972, when McAlpine, the civil engineering and building contractor, set up a concrete gravity structural complex at Ardyne within the same area . Almost 1, 600 navvies descended upon the locality to build North Sea platforms for the oil exploration off-shore in East Scotland . For eleven years before the people had had experience of inroads of foreign populations coming in by regular rotation. In 1972 the situation altered dramatically, with the incomers total' a proportion of 29% of the resident population. Between these two intruding, mostly bachelor, alien groups, life in the old capital of Cowal, Dunoon, and a girdle of villages stretching on either side, had been affected, and a seaside locality pushed into the front-line of the arms build-up. The ecology, the political set-up, the economy, and the culture locally had been diversely affected by the invasions. In addition, regionalization exacerbated the outside remote controls when area was absorbed into the Strathclyde Region. For centuries the township of Dunoon had been the adminstrative centre for the shore settlements. Now the area was to be administered by Glasgow regarding major matters, and by Lochgilphead regarding District affairs. Lochgilphead, ironically had been for years a challenge to the Dunoonite bid for more and more local autonomy. However, in 1975 the Dunoon Provost and the Town Council were waived aside, and the locality together with the town were administered by a lesser burgh. The outside controls were now complete, as the locality became more and more enmeshed within the faraway centres of power - Washington with its military aims, London with its oil objectives and assosciated industries, and Glasgow with its Regionalization programmes. The peripheral was therefore necessarily caught up with the centres of power with a growing local frustration . The impact was assessed during the election campaign of autumn '74, when 130 people were interviewed in the Burgh, so as to explore the burning local issues that were surfacing during the local debates, at a time when discussion was encouraged regarding macro and micro issues. Letters to the local press concerning the intrusions had been analyzed in the macro/micro context, and the Sheriff Court accounts explored, in an attempt to piece together the impact at cultural levels. The photographs in the local press over the period since the USN invasion were also assessed to establish the comparative effects of the intrusions and also of regionalization locally. A conspectus of what the visitors to the traditional seaside holiday strip felt about the possible changes was in part established through interviews on the ferries, when 148 visitors were contacted during the summer season of 1975. Opinions of the locality have been ascertained, thus providing an outside view, and some appraisal of what visitors were feeling about the changing face of East Cowal. In the autumn/winter of 1975-'76, 525 people were interviewed in their homes within the locality, so as to establish what they were feeling about the changes which appeared to constitute a state almost of social siege, which provided an inside view of local happenings and feelings. The whole study was organized and designed within a new approach , providing a macro/micro analysis of events and their outcome over the years since Proteus arrived at Holy Loch, and also an assessment, in particular, of the plural consciousness of the people during the period of research . Throughout that approach the study was set in the historical context of the locality, especially of its old capital Dunoon, and focused upon the locality in triptych viz. the Burgh of Dunoon in the centre, and the settlements to the South-West and the North-East flanking it and hinged to it on each side. Central to the approach - a "social-inscape approach" - was the importance of the familiar to the residents, and the psychosocial upset that surprise may bring. "Particularity" was a central concept throughout. From the initial impact of outside invasions phases have been identified in the chronicle of local events described as a "maze". The political interventions from faraway centres of power were also analyzed, and often exposed as "oblique" intrusions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: John E.T. Eldridge.
Keywords: Area planning and development, social structure.
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Supervisor, not known
Date of Award: 1981
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1981-73920
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2022 13:43
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.73920

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