BY the time the Queen Elizabeth II made her final visit to the Clyde in 2008 before sailing off into the sunset, she had overseen countless changes at home and abroad.

The yards who built her were gone. Only the Titan Crane in Clydebank and the dry dock where she was fitted out in Port Glasgow still remain, its own cranes demolished earlier this year, further erasing “Clyde-built” from the physical memory.

Cruise ship travel has also changed, with vessels carrying 6,000 people now dominating. When the QE2 was commissioned, Cunard had been caught in the conflict between more traditional, almost nostalgic, liners, and ships focusing more on activities and shopping, now ditching even outdoor promenades.

In her lifetime, the QE2 would rescue passengers from other vessels, including 501 passengers and crew from French liner Antilles in 1971. A year later, an extortionist claimed there were six bombs on board and prompted a bomb disposal team being parachuted into the Atlantic. The man responsible for jailed for 20 years.

She was converted to a troopship and had three helicopter pads installed and took 3,000 troops and 650 crew volunteers to the Falklands in 1982. In 1986 she undertook the last crossing of the Atlantic as a steamship, ending a 146-year tradition before a re-fit with diesel electric engines.

She took part in D Day and VE Day commemorations, played host to countless celebrities and dignitaries, and was even set for episodes of Coronation Street and Keeping Up Appearances.

Read more: The QE2 at 50: Clydebank marks anniversary of proud launch of famous liner

The QE2, now languishing in Dubai under the shadow of vague plans to turn her into a floating hotel, also sits in an almost uncomfortable position for her hometown.

While she was one of Clydebank’s greatest technical feats, she also hastened the decline of John Brown and Company.

For the many staff who watched the freshly named ship slide into the Clyde shortly after 2.30pm on September 20, 1967, there is today a mix of pride in what Clydebank achieved, and sadness that it’s all gone.

Old aerial photos looking down over John Brown’s capture a bustling scene packed with nostalgia for long-lost industry, without the dirt, noise, asbestos, dangers and hardship. Would Clydebank trade that era again for the present leisure centre and West College Scotland and the future Queens Quay plans for houses, a nursing home and health centre?

As they marked 50 years since the name of the QE2, Cunard recently announced there would be a fourth liner to sail alongside the Queen Mary 2, the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. The as-yet unnamed vessel will enter service in 2022 – and be built in Italy.

Though she is half a world away, as she often has been throughout her lifetime, the QE2 is a source of pride for Clydebank, a symbol of industry, and a memorial to more than a century of shipbuilding.

Each John Brown’s build was bigger than the last, not only a challenge to the world but to the workers.

“The best ship is the next one,” said one former apprentice.

Making “stuff” with your hands, whether ships of wood or metal, or clothing, or sewing machines, is one of the most important and satisfying of human activities. Any community, especially Clydebank, is right to celebrate those proud traditions today and for decades to come.