Dumbarton, also known as the biggest unemployment blackspot in Scotland, is 15 miles west of Glasgow on the north side of the river Clyde. It is located at the point where the river Leven joins the Clyde after flowing from Loch Lomond, which is only 6 miles north and has a population of 23,300 people.
Dumbarton Castle sits atop a volcanic plug right at the point the Leven joins the Clyde. This location gives it a great view in both directions along the Clyde and also up the Leven valley to Loch Lomond. Its wide view of the surrounding land and near unscalable rock faces made it an obvious place of defence and the earliest recorded note of Dumbarton Castle was in the 5th century AD. It was still manned as a defensive location up until WW2 which means it was a military base for around 1500 years, far longer than any other place in Britain. It was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde and was the main port into the west of Scotland for many years.
Dumbarton Castle has had many famous "visitors" over the years. William Wallace was held in Dumbarton after his capture and before he was transported to England for trial. Mary, Queen of Scots, also briefly stayed at Dumbarton Castle. Robert the Bruce lived near Dumbarton towards the end of his life and part of him was buried in a (now ruined) chapel in Levengrove park.
Dumbarton was a centre of ship building for many years with various ship building companies operating in the town. One of the largest was the Denny Shipyard. The first commercial ship testing tank in the world was built in Dumbarton by Dennys and is still operational today, albeit as a museum. The Cutty Sark was built in Dumbarton by Scott & Linton in 1869. The ship building industry has long since left Dumbarton (Dennys closed in 1963) and is also slowly disappearing from the rest of the Clyde.
Since the shipyards closed, Dumbarton's biggest industry has been Scotch Whisky. Allied Distillers have various facilities around the town, and Ballantine's whisky was distilled in Dumbarton, however the plant has been mothballed and is due for demolition. The J&B plant at Gooseholm was the most productive J&B plant in Scotland when it was closed.
The old J&B plant at Gooseholm in Dumbarton has been bought by the BBC for use in the Scottish soap opera River City (lets hope it's better than Take the Highroad) and has been converted into a studio with large outdoor sets which are designed to look like Glasgow tenements.
Dumbartons other main source of employment was the Polaroid factory in Renton. There are also a large number of people who commute to Glasgow for work, as it is fairly close and easily accesable by both road and rail.
Dumbarton FC is a Scottish second division football club based at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium, situated under the shadow of the Castle. Formed in 1884, Dumbarton FC went on to jointly win the first Scottish League Championship in 1890 with Glasgow Rangers FC.
Dumbarton also has its own local radio station, Castle Rock FM, which broadcasts from within the town and can be picked up from as far away as Glasgow City Centre. Originally it was called Dumbarton Festival Radio and only ran for the duration of the Dumbarton Festival, however in 2001 it gained a full time license and has been broadcasting since then.
Some of Dumbarton's most famous sons are David Byrne of Talking Heads, and Jackie Stewart the Formula One driver.