THE district's largest housing association has handed over 40 new homes to people in the Port as a £12m neighbourhood transformation continues despite lockdown.

Amid the pandemic, River Clyde Homes used an innovative contactless letting initiative after the second phase of its new build and regeneration project in the Slaemuir area of Port Glasgow was completed last month.

Keys have just been handed over to delighted residents.

The social landlord says this marks the end of a 'very challenging' project that started back in April 2019 and is now finally complete after work on the site was temporarily halted during the Covid-19 shutdown.

Slaemuir was one of the last housing schemes to be built in Inverclyde and whilst the old stub blocks are being replaced by 96 modern homes, the positive wider community feeling created almost 50 years ago still exists.

Marcia Ward, who lived in one of the blocks for more than 40 years and recently received the keys to her new home, is looking forward to many more happy years living in the area.

Born in Greenock just after the Second World War, Marcia moved to Port Glasgow when she married in 1967.

At first she lived in Houston Street, a long-gone area in The Glen, in what was known as ‘the Lithgow Houses’.

With one bedroom, two kids, no heating and no bath, she was glad of the offer of a new home in 1973 in the Slaemuir development.

Marcia said: “I couldn’t believe we had a bath!

"I no longer had to wash the boys in the sink.

"It was hard going at first, the rent was £5 a week, which was a fortune in those days.

"The rent in Houston Street was only £5 a month!”

Marcia soon settled in and took a job Clarke's the local bookmakers.

She said: "My sister stayed just down the road, which was really handy when I went back to work and the boys had loads of friends and went to the local school.

"We lived right on the edge of the countryside and the surrounding fields were the boys’ playground.

“It was always a great block to live in - the neighbours have always looked out for each other and when I moved in, no one bothered to put their doors off the snib."

Now, after 47 years, Marcia has moved on and is very happy in her new home.

Marcia said: “I’m pleased that all this investment is taking place in the area.

"While it was sad to say goodbye to the flat after all those years, I wanted to continue living in Slaemuir as it’s the place I call home.

"This feels like a new beginning.”

Jillian Moffat, chair of the RCH Group board, says the regeneration of the upper part of the Slaemuir area has been a community-driven project and has created modern, energy efficient homes. Jillian said: "This is the second phase and we look forward to starting the third and final development soon.

“To have completed these homes and handed them over to customers during the current pandemic is quite incredible.

"Tribute must be paid to contractors Cruden Building for their determination and agility to finish the development.

"Staff at RCH have shown remarkable innovation in letting these homes in a safe and timely manner that ensures customers have the homes they were so looking forward to moving into."

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, added: “Cruden Building is delighted to have completed the second phase of this modern housing development as part of the wider regeneration of the Slaemuir community and it is great to see the new residents moving in.

“We look forward to working with River Clyde Homes on the final stage of this development to provide a further 24 new homes for residents in Slaemuir."

The next steps in the Slaemuir regeneration will see the demolition of the last four remaining stub blocks to make way for 17 new homes on Slaemuir Avenue and seven on Campsie Road. Completion is scheduled for August 2021.