CLYDEBANK today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of one of the town’s most famous ships: the QE2.

The luxury liner slipped into the Clyde on September 20, 1967 and would become a symbol of “Clyde built”.

Queen Elizabeth formally gave name to yard number 736 as the entire town turned out to watch the occasion.

Fifty years on, a special sold-out conference – The QE2 Story – is being held at Clydebank Town Hall on Friday to talk about the liner and what she meant to the area and the wider world.

Hugh Morrison, who started as an apprentice five weeks after the keel of 736 was laid and who saw it throughout the building process, said it had been a complicated build, particularly as the first aluminium hull of that scale.

The QE2 came amidst significant overhauls of Clyde yards and just before the decade-long decline of shipbuilding on the river.

Hugh, now 68, told the Post: “The day of the launch was a happy and joyful day for all of those at the yard, especially those who had taken part in the work.

“It was the people at the shipyard who meant and mean most to me. It was their willingness to impart their knowledge which gave me the basis upon which to build my whole career.

“I would never have attained such a level in my chosen profession had it not been for the basis provided at Clydebank.”

Clydebank MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, whose father worked at John Browns, said it was great that so many former workers on the QE2 were returning for the conference this week.

He said: “The QE2 played a major part in the construction of the idea of what it means to be ‘Clyde built’.

“The 50th anniversary of number 736 will be remembered fondly by many in the town and beyond.”

He added: “We need to re-appreciate this town’s cultural heritage and take ownership of it. There’s a huge benefit in historical and cultural activities. It brings people in from all over the world. People are interested in our heritage and we need to give them the opportunity to come here.”

One of the conference organisers, Michael Gallagher, said it was right to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the QE2 in the town of her birth.

He said: “Many great ships have been built on the Clyde but QE2 must be one of the greatest and that famous saying ‘Clyde built is well built’ could probably have been written for her as she is surely the most successful liner ever built.

“She is a monument to the skills of those who built her, recall the hopes and aspirations of all of those at the yard at the time and remember a ship which defied the odds and broke the records.

“Each of those attending the conference has a personal association or connection to QE2 and will be celebrating a ship which means so much to them.”

Provost William Hendrie added: “Everybody in the town always remembers where they were when the QE2 was launched. The history stays in Clydebank. Today they learn about it in schools, which is excellent.”

“Hopefully the Queens Quay development will do the shipyard justice and be something Bankies can be proud of again.”

Read Hugh Morrison's description of the launch from John Brown's.