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Decontamination Centre Gourock

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Entrance canopy, south building, 2007, Fox
South building, entrance canopy

The site of a World War II Decontamination Centre has been identified in Gourock, within Gourock Park on the west side of Larkfield Road, south of its junction with Broomberry Drive. The park was originally named Darroch Park, later renamed Gourock Park, but would have been the current name when the centre was built.

Shortly after the centre was photographed during 2007, the building were demolished in 2008, and the site cleared of all evidence of their existence.

Similar decontamination centres were prepared around the country, such as Kilmacolm, but there seems to be little record of them, so we would d be grateful for any further information, or similar site locations.

World War II

The three main buildings of the decontamination centre lie adjacent to Larkfield Road, and run downhill from south to north. These are all flat-roofed, brick built structures with cement rendering, each with a water tank installed on the roof. A fourth building lies to the west of the southernmost building, considerably smaller than the others, of brick with a flat concrete roof. Its function is not known, but may have been a shelter or store, with a baffle wall protecting the entrance.

The most southerly of the three building is smaller than the others, and appears to have been an administration centre or ready room for personnel.

The next two buildings are larger, almost identical, and would have been used to process contaminated personnel.

A boundary wall separates the centre from Larkfield Road, with metal railings and gates for access, all painted green.

Postwar use

Conversation with a local resident indicates that the centre was once used as a fire station, and was then converted for reuse as a decontamination centre during the Cold War.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the lower building was used as a dining room for the nearby Eastern Primary School, which formerly resided on the site now occupied by the multi-storey flats on the corner of Chapel Street, and lacked its own catering facilities. Large garage style doors were fitted to the buildings during this period, and would not have been present on the original structure.

Council notes

Communication with the local council in 2007 confirmed the original purpose of the buildings, constructed as a decontamination centre at the beginning of World War II, intended to be used for decontaminating gas attack victims. Based on the Firth of Clyde, which was a busy wartime port, it would also have been used for any ship's crews that suffered a similar attack. Within the centre, victims' clothing would have been removed and incinerated, while the victims would have been showered and treated to remove and neutralise any surface contamination, then provided with replacement clothing by the Red Cross or others. Despite the persistent fear of such an attack, it was never to come, and the buildings were never used for their intended purpose.

The buildings were later cleared, and their internal partition walls removed. The two larger buildings were used as depots by the Parks Department, while the smaller one served as a bothy for workers. The buildings were also used to store equipment used by local drama groups.

The building were eventually cleared, after funding was approved for their demolition in 2008, after locals requested their removal on the basis that they were an eyesore.

Site visit

A site visit carried out during 2007 found that the drama groups appeared to have left their equipment in the buildings.

The buildings appeared to have been divided into two parts by a internal partition wall mounted across their centres when they were built, and this was still present in all three buildings. Vandals had created small openings in the corrugated doors which face the road, and it could be seen that there was only access to one half the building. Unfortunately, the view was restricted, and it was not possible to see what the partitioning was blocking off.

The openings once provided by the baffle wall on the smaller brick building to the southwest were found to have been bricked up, the work being completed only a few years earlier


Razed site, 2008
Razed site
© Thomas Nugent

A visit in September 2008 confirmed that the demolition requested by the local had been completed and the site had been razed, removing the eyesore and all evidence that the decontamination centre had ever existed.


South building, from the south, 2007, Fox
South building, from south
Middle building, from the south, 2007, Fox
Middle building, from south
North building, from the south, 2007, Fox
North building, from south

South building interior

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