I WAS recently asked what was the original use of the Inverclyde Centre for the homeless in Greenock's Dalrymple Street.

It was built as the Inverclyde Sailors' Centre and officially opened in March 1944 by the Duchess of Kent.

The foundation stone was laid by Lord Inverclyde of Castle Wemyss at Wemyss Bay, who had been chairman of the British Sailors' Society in Scotland for 18 years.

The society said it was wished that Lord Inverclyde's name be linked with the centre.

He agreed to this because he regarded it not so much an honour to him personally as an honour to and recognition of the unremitting support he had received from thousands of people locally and throughout Scotland to create a hostel for sailors from the Royal and merchant navies. Lord Inverclyde said donations had raised �19,200 but the project would require something in the region of �40,000.

Two years after the opening of Inverclyde Sailors' Centre, the Telegraph reported it had served well over half a million meals and three quarters of a million hot beverages, minerals and light refreshments. Around 140,000 sailors had taken advantage of the sleeping facilities.

More than 15,000 letters had been received for visiting sailors, and 21,000 personal calls had been made from the telephone kiosk in the entrance hall.

A total of 20,000 visiting seamen had taken advantage of the free baths for residents.

In 1946, shipping traffic associated with the war effort had considerably decreased but the centre was still catering for and looking after the interests of hundreds of seamen every week.